Low Back Pain

Pain in the lower back and pelvic area is one of the most common symptoms suffered by women in the last trimester of pregnancy. A recent study published in “Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica” examined the role acupuncture could play in relieving pelvic and low back pain in pregnant women, and has concluded that it is a safe and effective method of reducing pain, without producing any serious side-effects.


In the study, 72 pregnant women with pelvic or low back pain were randomized, during weeks 24-37 of their pregnancies, to either an acupuncture group or a control group. Women in the acupuncture group received needling at traditional acupuncture points and “local tender points” based on their individual pain patterns, and were treated once or twice a week until the child was delivered. Women in the control group were given no stimulation.

Pain Rated

Throughout the study, patients in both groups were asked to rate their pain weekly on a visual analog scale, and to rate their pain on a three-point scale during various activities. Over time, visual analog pain intensity scores decreased in 60 percent of the women given acupuncture, but in only 14 percent of the women in the control group. Additionally, 43 percent of the acupuncture patients reported a decrease in pain during activity, compared with only 9 percent of the control patients.


No serious adverse effects were observed in the women receiving acupuncture, and no adverse effects of any kind were noticed in the babies born to women in the acupuncture group. The authors noted succinctly that acupuncture “relieves low back and pelvic pain without serious adverse effects in late pregnancy,” and suggested that further studies be conducted to validate their research.

SOURCE: Kvorning N, Holmberg C, Grennert L, et al. Acupuncture relieves pelvic and low-back pain in late pregnancy. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, March 2004;83(3):246-50.