A feasibility study carried out in the UK suggests that acupuncture can add benefit to standard care (SC) for back pain in pregnancy. The pilot randomised trial assigned 125 women with pregnancy-related back pain to one of three treatment arms: SC (self-management advice and physiotherapy), SC plus true acupuncture or SC plus non-penetrating acupuncture. Physiotherapists carried out acupuncture using six to 10 bilateral points selected from an agreed list, including both local paraspinal points and distal points. Between six and eight treatment sessions were offered to participants over a period of six weeks. Patient-reported outcomes (pain, function and quality of life) favoured the addition of acupuncture to SC for pregnancy-related back pain. Analysis of health economic outcomes showed that although SC plus true acupuncture had a higher total cost than SC alone, it also achieved higher QALY (quality-adjusted life-years) gains. No evidence of serious adverse effects on mothers or birth and neonatal outcomes from acupuncture was found.
Evaluating Acupuncture and Standard carE for pregnant women with Back pain (EASE Back): a feasibility study and pilot randomised trial. Health Technol Assess. 2016 Apr;20(33):1-236.