Acupuncture can relieve lower back and pelvic pain that often occurs during pregnancy

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Acupuncture can significantly reduce low back and/or pelvic pain that women often experience during pregnancy, suggests a data analysis of available data, published in BMJ Open.

And there were no noticeable major side effects for newborns whose moms opted for the treatment, the findings suggest, although only a few of the published studies included in the analysis assessed outcomes, such as preterm birth, the researchers noted.

Acupuncture is emerging as a potential treatment for a variety of different types of pain because it does not involve the need for drugs and is considered safe, researchers say.

Exactly how it might relieve pain isn’t clear, but it’s thought to involve the release of the body’s innate “happy” chemicals—endorphins—as well as increased blood flow to local skin and muscles.

But whether it can reduce the debilitating lower back and/or pelvic pain that up to 90% of women experience during pregnancy is still hotly debated.

To add to the database, the researchers reviewed research databases for relevant clinical trials that compared the pain relief of pregnant women receiving acupuncture, alone or when combined with other treatments, with other/none/invalid treatment, as well as potential effects. on their newborns.

The final analysis included 10 randomized controlled trials, involving 1,040 women. Each study was published between 2000 and 2020 and conducted in Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, and Brazil.

The mothers-to-be were all healthy, 17 to 30 weeks pregnant on average, and had low back and/or pelvic pain.

Acupuncture was administered either by trained acupuncturists, physiotherapists or midwives. Seven trials described body acupuncture; three described acupuncture for the eye (earlobe).

All studies reported pretreatment acupuncture points, needle retention time, and dose. In seven, points that are usually considered contraindicated during pregnancy — “forbidden points” — were used.

A pooled data analysis of study results for nine studies indicated that acupuncture significantly alleviated pain during pregnancy.

Four of these studies reported the potential of acupuncture to restore physical function, and the results showed that this was significantly improved.

Quality of life was recorded in five studies. When the results of these were combined, the results indicated that acupuncture improved this significantly as well.

A pooled data analysis of four studies indicated that there was a significant difference in the overall effect when acupuncture was compared with other or no interventions.

But a pooled data analysis of two studies reporting pain medication showed no difference in consumption between those who received acupuncture and those who did not.

Adjusted pooled data analysis also indicated that acupuncture is safe, and for the four studies that reported it, there was no significant difference in neonatal health (Apgar) scores when acupuncture was compared with other interventions or no intervention.

Only one study reported gestational age and that study was not included in the pooled data analysis. Prematurity was reported in two studies, but these children were healthy at birth.

Seven studies listed other minor side effects expected for mums-to-be, such as pain, tenderness and bleeding at the needle site and drowsiness. Nevertheless, the participants rated acupuncture well and most were willing to repeat it if necessary.

However, the researchers are cautious about their findings: the number of included studies was relatively small and their quality varied. Furthermore, the design, methodology, outcomes, and participant characteristics differed significantly. And in two studies, the dropout rate exceeded 20% among the control group.

Nevertheless, they conclude that acupuncture deserves closer attention because of its potential to relieve pain at a time when it is desirable to avoid drugs because of their potential side effects for mother and child.

“Acupuncture significantly improved pain, function and quality of life in women with [lower back/pelvic pain] during pregnancy. In addition, acupuncture had no serious adverse effects on neonates,” they wrote.

“Larger and well designed [randomized controlled trials] are still needed to further confirm these findings,” they added.

More information:
Acupuncture for low back and/or pelvic pain in pregnancy: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, BMJ Open (2022). DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-056878

Published by the British Medical Journal

Quotation: Acupuncture can relieve low back and pelvic pain common during pregnancy (2022, November 21) retrieved November 22, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-11-acupuncture-relieve-pelvic-pain -experienced.html

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