Category Archives: Pregnancy

Acupuncture for pregnancy-related conditions, plus recent research.

Acupuncture is Cost-Effective for Lower Back Pain in Pregnancy

Acupuncture is cost-effective for lower back pain in pregnancy. French researchers have found acupuncture to be a cost-effective treatment for pelvic girdle and lower back pain in pregnancy. Women given acupuncture in addition to standard care reported less pain and disability than those given standard care alone.

A total of 199 women at gestations of between 16 and 34 weeks, were randomly allocated to receive either five sessions of acupuncture plus routine care, or routine care alone, over four weeks. Additional sessions were available at the patients’ request. The study took place across five maternity hospitals in the Paris region. Routine care comprised a pregnancy belt, lifestyle recommendations and exercises. Painkillers, rest and sick leave were prescribed by the referring physician or midwife.

The proportion of days on which women reported a pain score less than 4/10 was 61% in the acupuncture group, compared with 48% in the routine care group. Mean disability scores were also lower in the acupuncture group. As well as being more effective, acupuncture plus routine care was more than 300 euros per patient cheaper for the economy overall: the cost of providing acupuncture was offset by the costs of reduced absence from work.

(Cost-effectiveness of acupuncture versus standard care for pelvic and low back pain in pregnancy: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS One, 22 April 2019.)

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Acupuncture for Morning Sickness

Researchers interested in acupuncture for morning sickness, have undertaken a network meta-analysis comparing treatments. Acupuncture, acupressure and methylprednisolone for hyperemesis gravidarum, the severe form of morning sickness, offered better therapeutic benefits than standard care. Acupressure also reduced the need for rescue antiemetics.

(Interventions for treating hyperemesis gravidarum: a network meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Journal of Maternal-Fetal & Neonatal Medicine, 25 September 2018.)

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Acupuncture helps Lower Back Pain in Pregnancy

Research from Brazil: acupuncture helps lower back pain in pregnancy. Researchers in the Department of Nursing at the Federal University of CearĂ¡, Brazil have found that a course of acupuncture offers significant analgesic effects for women experiencing lower back pain in pregnancy. A total of 56 women between 14 and 37 weeks pregnant, and mean age 25, were given up to six acupuncture sessions. Pain scores showed a statistically significant reduction in lower back pain as early as the second session, with further gradual improvements following. The women also reported improvements in relaxation, stress, sleep and anxiety. The researchers concluded that acupuncture “has the potential to promote health in a pleasant, simple, convenient, practical, risk-free and cost-effective manner”.

(Acupuncture treatment: multidimensional assessment of low back pain in pregnant women. Revista da Escola Enfermagem da USP, 11 June 2018.)

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Acupuncture Reduces Need for Labour Induction

Acupuncture reduces the need for labour induction. Researchers from the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department at the University of Modena in Italy, have found that acupuncture given regularly from full term, may be effective in reducing the rates of labour induction performed for women whose pregnancies are running on significantly past their due dates. A total of 375 women at 40 weeks gestation received either acupuncture or routine care. Acupuncture was given on alternate days from 40 weeks plus 2 days, up until 41 weeks plus 4 days. Acupuncture points were chosen from those traditionally indicated to enhance uterine activity, ripen the cervix, relax the muscles and reduce anxiety.

Compared with the control group, women who received acupuncture: experienced a higher rate of spontaneous delivery (75% versus 53%); delivered on average two days earlier; had lower rates of labour induction (20% versus 38%); needed less oxytocin to strengthen their contractions; had lower rates of operative delivery (6% versus 11%). The researchers point out the significance of the reduced demand for oxytocin, in the context of a recent study suggesting adverse effects of oxytocin on birth outcomes.

(Acupuncture in Postdate Pregnancy Management. Journal of Acupuncture & Meridian Studies, October 2018.)

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Acupuncture for Pain in Pregnancy

Research from New Zealand: acupuncture for pain in pregnancy. A study on acupuncture for pain in pregnancy undertaken at a New Zealand hospital, shows a clinically meaningful symptom reduction in women with lower back and pelvic pain. The observational study looked at data on 81 women with lumbopelvic pain, who received traditional Chinese acupuncture weekly. In all, 89% of patients reported a clinically meaningful symptom reduction following treatment.

The authors conclude that this study supports existing clinical trial results indicating the benefits of acupuncture in reducing symptoms. The nature and extent of adverse events were consistent with those found in reviews whose authors have concluded that acupuncture in pregnancy is safe overall. Tailoring the treatment to the concerns of pregnancy may help clinicians feel more confident in acupuncture as a safe and effective treatment.

(Treating Pain in Pregnancy with Acupuncture: Observational Study Results from a Free Clinic in New Zealand. Journal of Acupuncture & Meridian Studies, February 2018.)

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