Pregnant women with pelvic girdle and low back pain treated with acupuncture in addition to routine care report less pain and disability than those who receive routine care alone. French researchers allocated 199 women at gestational age between 16 and 34 weeks to either five sessions of acupuncture plus standard care, or standard care alone, over a four-week period, with additional sessions available at the patient’s request. Acupuncture point selection was based on pain location and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) diagnosis of either Kidney deficiency or Blood stagnation. Acupoints used were Weizhong BL-40, Cilao BL-32 Shenshu BL-23, Zhubin KID-9, Taichong LIV-3, SP-10 Xuehai, Huantiao GB-30, Chengshan BL-57, Hengu KID-11, Zhongdu LIV-6 and ahshi points. The proportion of days when patients reported pain scores less than 4/10 was greater in the acupuncture group than in the standard care group (61 percent versus 48 percent). Mean disability scores were also lower in the acupuncture group than with standard care alone. As well as being more effective, acupuncture plus routine care was cheaper than routine care alone from the perspective of society. From the perspective of the hospital, acupuncture cost an additional €22 for each day with a pain score less than four. From the societal perspective, the higher direct healthcare costs of acupuncture were offset by lower indirect costs of absence from work.

Cost-effectiveness of acupuncture versus standard care for pelvic and low back pain in pregnancy: A randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2019 Apr 22;14(4):e0214195