Acupuncture Helps Relieve Pregnancy's Low Back Pain

| October 1, 2012 | 0 Comments | 24 views

July 6, 2000 -- For low back pain during pregnancy, acupuncture may bebetter than traditional treatment with massage, heat, and exercise, accordingto a Swedish report in a recent issue of the journal Acta Obstetricia etGynecologica Scandinavica.

"I'm happy to say that I was wrong about acupuncture," says leadstudy author Kaj Wedenberg, MD, PhD, the assistant chief of Ob-Gyn at CentralHospital in Vasteras, Sweden. "This preliminary study showed thatacupuncture can reduce low back pain and disability in just a few simpletreatments."

Low back pain affects up to three-quarters of all pregnant women, usuallyduring the time between their sixth and ninth months of pregnancy. The cause isnot yet known, but risk factors include smoking, strenuous work, and a historyof low back problems. Symptoms are usually worse in the evening, can oftenaffect sleep, and can interfere with a woman's ability to perform daily tasks-- even causing her to need time off from work.

Wedenberg and two nurse-midwives compared acupuncture to physical therapy in60 pregnant women with low back pain. Over four to eight weeks, participantsreceived 10 treatments of either acupuncture or physical therapy. Before,during, and after treatment, they rated their pain and disability on a scale ofzero to 10.

The groups rated their low back pain similarly before treatment, but therewere significant differences afterward. The acupuncture group had an averagepain reduction of 2.5 points in the morning and six points in the evening,whereas the physical therapy group had a reduction of only 1.5 points in themorning and two points in the evening.

Similarly, there were significant differences in disability after treatment.The acupuncture group had less difficulty in performing 11 out of 12 dailyactivities, yet there were no changes reported by the physical therapygroup.

"Acupuncture is a valid treatment for low back pain, but only afterposture and proper body mechanics have been addressed," says Judy Fielder,CNM, MN, a nurse-midwife who practices in Atlanta. "And we usuallyrecommend a support device that holds the uterus up and in, relieving stress onback muscles," she adds.

Doctors say acupuncture can also relieve nausea during pregnancy."During the first six months, acupuncture is a safe and effective treatmentfor nausea and vomiting," says Truett Bridges, MD, a pain specialist andpresident of the Georgia Association of Medical Acupuncturists. "But you'vegot to be very careful with pregnant women, because some acupuncture pointsactually induce labor," he tells WebMD.

For this reason, Bridges supports the study researchers' use of earacupuncture, rather than body acupuncture. "But I think a combination ofacupuncture and physical therapy is probably the best approach," he tellsWebMD. "And repeated massage works particularly well for low backpain."

Vital Information:

Low back pain affects up to three-quarters of all pregnant women,especially those who smoke, do strenuous work, or have a history of backproblems. A new study shows that acupuncture may work better for low back pain inpregnant women than the conventional treatment with massage, heat, andexercise. There are special precautions to take with pregnant women, because expertssay some acupuncture points can actually induce labor.

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