A UK feasibility study suggests that acupuncture adds benefit to standard care for back pain in pregnancy. The randomised trial allocated 125 women with pregnancy-related back pain, to one of three treatment groups: standard care alone (advice plus physiotherapy); standard care plus true acupuncture; standard care plus sham acupuncture. Participants received between six and eight treatment sessions over a six week period. The researchers found pregnant women were keen to take part, and they and their midwives had few concerns about acupuncture.
Patient-reported outcome measures of pain, function and quality of life, favoured the addition of true acupuncture to standard care. An economic analysis showed that although the addition of acupuncture lead to a higher total cost of care, it also achieved higher quality-adjusted life-years gains. There was no evidence of serious adverse events for mothers, birth or neonatal outcomes. The researchers conclude that a future, large randomised controlled trial is desirable and feasible, and would be welcomed by pregnant women and clinicians.
(Evaluating Acupuncture and Standard Care for Pregnant Women with Back Pain: a feasibility study and pilot randomised trial. Health Technology Assessment, April 2016.)