Background: The aim of this study was to describe the effects of acupuncture in the treatment of low-back and pelvic pain during pregnancy and compare it with physiotherapy.
Methods: Sixty pregnant women were allotted to acupuncture or physiotherapy. The women estimated the severity of their pain using a visual analog scale (VAS) from 0 to 10 and disability in performing twelve common daily activities using a disability-rating index (DRI) from 0 to 10.
Results: In the acupuncture group all 30 women completed the study (two exclusions), in the physiotherapy group only 18. Before treatment the two study groups were rather similar with respect to pain and disability. After treatment the mean morning VAS had declined from 3.4 to 0.9 (p<0.01) in the acupuncture group and from 3.7 to 2.3 (NS) in the physiotherapy group. The corresponding evening values had declined from 7.4 to 1.7 (p<0.01) and 6.6 to 4.5 (p<0.01), respectively. The mean VAS values were lower after acupuncture than after physiotherapy both in the morning (p=0.02) and in the evening (p<0.01). After treatment also the mean DRI values had decreased significantly in the acupuncture group for 11 of 12 activities and the values were significantly lower for all activities than in the physiotherapy group where no significant changes had taken place. Overall satisfaction was good in both groups. There were no serious adverse events in any of the patients.
Conclusions: Acupuncture relieved pain and diminished disability in low-back pain during pregnancy better than physiotherapy.