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Acupuncture May Cut Pregnancy Pelvic Pain

Stabilizing Exercises Also Helped -- but Not as Much

Safety First With Acupuncture continued...

Acupressure applies pressure to specific points, but does not use needles.

Many acupuncture studies have been done, and some have been more useful than others, says the NCCAM. More work is needed, but promising results have been seen in acupuncture studies of adults with pain after surgery or dental procedures, chemotherapy nausea, and vomiting, says the NCCAM.

In 1997, an NIH panel also noted that acupuncture might help relieve nausea during pregnancy. A long list of other conditions -- including addiction, menstrual cramps, and pain from knee osteoarthritis -- might also benefit from acupuncture, says the NCCAM.

Swedish Study Shows Acupuncture Helps

The pelvic girdle pain study included 386 pregnant women. All were 12-31 weeks into their pregnancy.

Every woman got standard care -- education about activity, rest, and the back and pelvis. They also got a pelvic belt for support and a home exercise program to strengthen their stomach and gluteal muscles.

Another group of women also got two acupuncture sessions per week for six weeks. The women's and babies' heart rates were monitored before and after all treatments.

A third group got standard care plus specific exercises to stabilize their back and pelvis. The women were instructed to do the exercises throughout the day at home and with a trainer for six weeks.

The acupuncture group got the most relief from pelvic girdle pain, followed by the stabilization exercise group. Those who just got standard care didn't have any improvement. The findings were based on patients' pain reports recorded every morning and evening, along with an examiner's evaluation.

No one had any serious side effects during the treatments or follow-up a week later. The study by Swedish midwife Helen Elden and colleagues appears on BMJ Online First.

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