Basic in Western Medicine
Since early in pregnancy when there are very few changes in body shape, musculoskeletal problems are often present due to hormonal effects of progesterone on the ligament. As pregnancy progresses these conditions become more prevalent. In addition to the weight of the growing foetus which needs to be compensated for by the women’ muscles and joints, there is also the fact that this weight is distributed in the abdomen rather than evenly over the entire body. This in effect throws off the woman’s centre of gravity, leading to a variety of pelvic, back, shoulder and neck problem.
Basics in Chinese Medicine
Musculoskeletal pain is seen as a disruption to the flow of qi or blood in the channels passing through a specific area. This canaries from invasion of pathogenic factors, overuse, trauma or from an internal organs disharmony transmitting to a channel. The musculoskeletal problem in pregnancy commonly presents with pain and tenderness along the bladder and gall bladder channel pathways. The most frequently presenting organ disharmonies are kidney deficiency and liver qi stagnation.
One study done in 2013 by Selva Oild showed promising results; weak positive evidence (Selva Olid 2013)(1);
Another study showed clinically important and statistically significant changes of the pain with intervention of acupuncture (Close 2014 – SR of CAM; 2 high quality studies)(2);
Moderate quality evidence that acupuncture or exercise, tailored to the stage of pregnancy, significantly reduced evening pelvic or lumbo-pelvic pain. Acupuncture superior to exercise for reducing evening pelvic pain; Both acupuncture and exercise superior to usual care; Insufficient evidence (Liddle 2015 – Cochrane SR: Comparison of interventions)(3)
1. Selva Olid A, Martinez Zapata MJ, Sola I, Stojanovic Z, Uriona Tuma SM, Bonfill Cosp X. Efficacy and Safety of Needle Acupuncture for Treating Gynecologic and Obstetric Disorders: An Overview. Med Acupunct. 2013 Dec 1;25(6):386-97.
2. Close C, Sinclair M, Liddle SD, Madden E, McCullough JE, Hughes C. A systematic review investigating the effectiveness of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) for the management of low back and/or pelvic pain (LBPP) in pregnancy. J Adv Nurs. 2014 Aug;70(8):1702-16.