Auricular acupuncture as a treatment for pregnant women who have low back and posterior pelvic pain: a pilot study

We wanted to share a compelling study (click to download entire research paper) with you all, showing efficacy of ear acupuncture in treating low back pain and posterior pelvic pain in pregnant women.  It was performed at the Center for the Advancement of Perioperative Health at Yale-New Haven Hospital after obtaining approval from the Human Investigation Committee at Yale University School of Medicine.  It was done primarily due to the prevalence of Pregnancy-related low back and posterior pelvic pain (PRLP) (up to 2 million women affected by PRLP annually), and an obvious need for additional, safe, and effective treatments that are non-drug and non-invasive.

 

The importance of treating acute low back pain to prevent long-term and chronic back pain is explained in the introduction:


Chronic/recurrent low back pain is often initiated by an acute episode of low back pain with local irritation and in- flammation, followed by immobilization and abnormal posture caused by this pain.  The immobilization and abnormal posture leads to worsening of local irritation and inflammation, ultimately resulting in the development of chronic low back pain.  If an effective intervention that reduces pain is applied at the onset of acute low back pain, it may facilitate the early resumption of daily activities and lead to a decrease in the incidence of recurrent and chronic low back pain.

 

 

While several studies have also recommended traditional body acupuncture for Pregnancy-related low back and posterior pelvic pain (PRLP), auricular acupuncture is particularly appealing due to its ease of administration, effectiveness, and safety during pregnancy.  It can be used to increase efficacy of pain treatment, like body acupuncture, Craniosacral therapy, or massage.  As was noted by the authors of the study:

 

Auricular acupuncture is preferable to body acupuncture, because it is easy to apply without undressing the patient or using sophisticated needle manipulations, as in traditional body acupuncture. Last, the use of auricular press needles (Small; Seirin Pyonex, Shizuoka, Japan) (Figure 1) allows the provision of continuous acupuncture intervention while the patient continues with her daily activities.

 

After performing the randomized, blinded, and controlled trial on 152 women, the acupuncture group experienced the most reduction in pain, after 1 week.  No participants experienced pre-term labor and no adverse pregnancy outcomes were reported.  As noted by the researchers:
 

At the day 7 follow-up, we found that about 80% of the participants in the acupuncture group experienced a clinically significant reduction in pain compared with 56% of participants in the sham acupuncture group and 36% of participants in the control group. This clinically important outcome was associated with an improvement in functional status as the pain decreased. The reduction of pain continued to the day 14 follow-up.

 

 

They conclude that it is a safe treatment for PRLP, and that more research is needed to expand upon this outcome and the knowledge of the mechanisms involved, how to expand the results, etc.

 

If you wish to experience auricular acupuncture at our clinic in Campbell, we ask that you schedule an appointment to determine if we can help you.  You may call for a free 20 minute phone consultation, or schedule a new patient assessment with Jessica or Michael, Monday through Friday.

Auricular acupuncture is a anatomical and neurologically derived acupuncture system, developed by Chinese, French, and German medical professionals and research facilities for the last 70 years.  It is founded on principles of embryological continuity, and brain-proximity, utilizing the cranial nerves that extend into the external ear and allow direct stimulation of the central nervous system using acupuncture needles and/or medical 'seeds' that apply continuous pressure to the nerves.

 

You can see a demonstration of Dr. Li-Chun Huang performing her diagnostic assessment using sensors of electromagnetic resistance on the surface of the ear in this video.  If you look at Google Scholar, you will find an endless supply of studies into auriculotherapy.  One excellent text on the subject is Auriculotherapy Manual: Chinese and Western Systems of Ear Acupuncture, by Terry Oleson.

 

 

 

 

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