Low back pain and pelvic discomfort can be nearly unbearable in the latter stages of pregnancy. But, research has shown that pregnancy back pain relief can be achieved by using ear acupuncture. According to Reuters Health, a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found pregnant women who use acupuncture experienced “significant reductions” in such pain.
The women in the study were given three needles placed at specific acupuncture points in their ears. They wore them for one week. Eighty-one percent of the women in that group experienced a 30 percent or greater reduction in pain.
Other women were given acupuncture needles in “sham” points in the ear (those that shouldn’t have any pain-relieving results). Fifty-nine percent of this group experienced pain reduction of 30 percent or more. In the control group, with no needles used, pregnancy back pain relief of 30% or more was experienced by 47 percent of the women.
All of the women were encouraged to use self-care during the period of the study. This means they were instructed to use things like rest, over the counter pain medication, and hot and cold packs.
The greatest number of women reporting to be “pain free” was in the acupuncture group. Thirty-seven percent were pain free while 22 percent of the “sham” group and 9 percent of the control group were.
The study has two important findings: first, that acupuncture can offer significant pain relief in pregnant women, and second that even self-care methods can offer relief.
Acupuncture is a relatively inexpensive procedure, and can be used for a variety of things. For pregnant women in particular, however, it is promising that a drug-free method of pain relief is so effective.
The only reported side effect in the study was tenderness in the ear, where the acupuncture needles were used.
Scientists involved in the study believe more research is needed “to explore whether extended continuous ear acupuncture yields a more sustained effect and determine the characteristics of acupuncture responders vs. nonresponders.”
Typically, an acupuncture treatment doesn’t require the long term wearing of needles. However, there seem to be no ill effects from doing so, and possibly greater positive effects. Discussing this option with your own acupuncture provider can help you determine if such practice could give you intensified results from your regular treatments.
If you have never used acupuncture treatment before for pregnancy back pain relief, now is the time.