(Health Secrets) Ear acupuncture is a safe and effective way to relieve pregnancy related lower back and posterior pelvic pain, known commonly as PRLP. This is the conclusion from a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Most women are reluctant to take drugs during pregnancy because of the risk to their baby, so ear acupuncture provides a natural way to combat PRLP without the need for drugs.
How common is PRLP?
Lower back pain affects a large percentage of the American population and pregnancy is seen as a major contributing factor. Around 20% of pregnant women report lower back and pelvic pain, including 2 million women in the U.S. each year. For many women, symptoms of PRLP can continue after they give birth.
As well as pain in the lower back, many pregnant women complain of pain in the buttocks and the front of the pelvic area, in addition to pain radiating down their legs. This type of pain usually becomes worse after standing for long periods of time, and is one of the key reasons given for absence or sick leave during pregnancy. The earlier back pain is experienced during pregnancy, the more severe it is likely to become, and the greater the chances that it will continue after the birth.
What is ear acupuncture?
The study used ear acupuncture, also known as auricular therapy, to relieve PRLP. Auricular therapy is an ancient treatment and has been a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. It is often used in conjunction with body acupuncture.
In recent years ear acupuncture has been shown to stimulate the release of endorphins, feel-good chemicals released by the body that help to combat pain naturally. As well as PRLP and other types of pain, ear acupuncture is used to treat addictions, mood disorders, and obesity.
The acupuncture points on the ear are connected to the body’s internal organs, structures and functions, and ear acupuncture can help to regulate these. For optimum effect, ear acupuncture points can be stimulated over long periods of time, possibly up to a week or more. This is done by inserting small needles into the acupuncture points and taping them to the ear.
Who took part in the study?
There were 152 participants in the study, all pregnant women with a gestational age of between 25 and 38 weeks, who were experiencing lower back pain. They were otherwise healthy, and had never before been treated with acupuncture. The participants were randomly divided into three study groups:
- The acupuncture group had acupuncture needles inserted into three acupuncture points on the ear, known as the kidney, analgesia, and shenmen points. These points were selected because they are thought to specifically target the areas where PRLP is experienced. The needles were taped to the ear and remained in place for a week.
- The sham acupuncture group was a control group that had acupuncture needles inserted into three other ear acupuncture points, the shoulder, wrist, and extra-auricular points, which were not expected to have much impact on PRLP.
- The control group did not have any acupuncture treatment, but were told simply to rest and take painkillers if they felt this was necessary because of the pain.
Clear indication that auricular therapy is successful in PRLP relief
After a week, the women who participated in the study were assessed to see if they had experienced any improvement in PRLP symptoms. Only 47% of women in the control group, and 59% of women in the sham acupuncture group reported a significant reduction in pain compared to a staggering 81% of women in the ear acupuncture group.
Ear acupuncture is a treatment that has been developed over many years, and is ideal for use during pregnancy, as it has very few side effects and does not involve drugs that may harm a developing baby. It is seen to be very effective when combined with body acupuncture as well as other natural remedies such as gentle stretching exercises, and massage by a therapist who specializes in prenatal treatments. Two or three ear acupuncture sessions, combined with massage and exercise could be all it takes to find relief from PRLP.
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