Objectives: To compare the efficacy of standard treatment, standard treatment plus acupuncture, and standard treatment plus stabilising exercises for pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy.
Design: Randomised single blind controlled trial. Settings East Hospital, Gothenburg, and 27 maternity care centres in Sweden.
Participants: 386 pregnant women with pelvic girdle pain.
Interventions: Treatment for six weeks with standard treatment (n = 130), standard treatment plus acupuncture (n = 125), or standard treatment plus stabilising exercises (n = 131).
Main outcome measures: Primary outcome measure was pain (visual analogue scale); secondary outcome measure was assessment of severity of pelvic girdle pain by an independent examiner before and after treatment.
Results: After treatment the stabilising exercise group had less pain than the standard group in the morning (median difference = 9, 95% confidence interval 1.7 to 12.8; P = 0.0312) and in the evening (13, 2.7 to 17.5; P = 0.0245). The acupuncture group, in turn, had less pain in the evening than the stabilising exercise group (-14, -18.1 to -3.3; P = 0.0130). Furthermore, the acupuncture group had less pain than the standard treatment group in the morning (12, 5.9 to 17.3; P < 0.001) and in the evening (27, 13.3 to 29.5; P < 0.001). Attenuation of pelvic girdle pain as assessed by the independent examiner was greatest in the acupuncture group.
Conclusion: Acupuncture and stabilising exercises constitute efficient complements to standard treatment for the management of pelvic girdle pain during pregnancy. Acupuncture was superior to stabilising exercises in this study.