Numerous pregnant women suffer from back pain, and a new study analysis reveals that an ancient remedy can provide relief.
According to a meta-analysis of 10 clinical trials from around the world, acupuncture significantly alleviated lower back and pelvic discomfort. The findings were published in BMJ Open on November 21.
“Acupuncture significantly reduced pain, functional status, and quality of life in pregnant women with [lower back/pelvic pain],” wrote Dr. Wei Dong of the Department of Orthopaedics at the Kunming Municipal Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China.
“Additionally, acupuncture had no discernible deleterious effects on the neonates,” the researchers wrote in a journal press release.
As per US News, the ten trials were done in the United States, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Brazil between 2000 and 2020. The studies involved 1,040 healthy women in total. They were, on average, between the 17th and 30th week of pregnancy.
All had lower back and/or pelvic pain and were treated by acupuncturists, physiotherapists, or midwives with the appropriate training. In seven of the ten trials, body acupuncture was described. The other three described acupuncture for the earlobe.
Nine trials with varying results indicated that acupuncture considerably alleviated pregnancy-related discomfort. The results of four investigations on the ability of acupuncture to restore physical function indicate significant gains.
In the five research that examined the effect of acupuncture on quality of life, the results indicated a considerable improvement. According to a meta-analysis of four studies, there was a significant difference in overall outcomes when acupuncture was compared to other therapies or no intervention.
A separate analysis of two studies reporting on pain medication, however, revealed no significant difference between those who received acupuncture and those who received nothing. Seven studies made use of “forbidden spots” — places that are normally discouraged during pregnancy.
The data indicate that acupuncture is safe, according to the researchers. Four investigations on the health scores of babies found no statistically significant difference between acupuncture and other treatments.
In two investigations, preterm contractions were documented, but the newborns were in good health, the authors said. In addition to drowsiness, pregnant women experienced pain and bleeding at the injection site. Most were willing to undergo acupuncture treatment again.
It is unclear exactly how acupuncture can relieve pain, although it is believed to include the production of endorphins and an increase in blood flow to the skin and muscles.
According to the researchers, the number of included studies was quite limited, and their quality varied. Design, techniques, outcomes, and participant characteristics varied amongst studies. The authors highlighted that more than 20% of participants dropped out of two studies.
They stated that acupuncture merits further study due to its ability to alleviate pain when it is desirable to avoid medication. The scientists stated, “More large-scale and well-designed [randomized controlled trials] are still required to corroborate these results.”