To investigate if there are differences between acupuncture and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) as treatment for pelvic girdle pain (PGP) in pregnancy in order to manage pain and thus maintain health and functioning in daily activities and physical activity (PA).
Randomised controlled trial.
Pregnant women (n=113) with clinically verified PGP in gestational weeks 12-28, recruited from maternity healthcare centres, randomised (1:1) into two groups.
any obstetrical complication, systemic disease or previous disorder that could contradict tests or treatment.
The intervention consisted of either 10 acupuncture sessions (two sessions per week) provided by a physiotherapist or daily home-based TENS during 5 weeks.
Disability (Oswestry Disability Index), functioning (Patient Specific Functional Scale), work ability (Work Ability Index) and PA-level according to general recommendations.
Functioning related to PGP (Pelvic Girdle Questionnaire), evening pain intensity (Numeric Rating Scale, NRS), concern about pain (NRS), health (EuroQoL 5-dimension), symptoms of depression/catastrophising (Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale/Coping Strategies Questionnaire).
No mean differences were detected between the groups. Both groups managed to preserve their functioning and PA level at follow-up. This may be due to significantly (p<0.05) reduced within groups evening pain intensity; acupuncture -0.96 (95% CI -1.91 to -0.01; p=0.049), TENS -1.29 (95% CI -2.13 to -0.44; p=0.003) and concern about pain; acupuncture -1.44 (95% CI -2.31 to -0.57; p=0.0012), TENS -1.99 (95% CI -2.81 to -1.17; p<0.0001). The acupuncture group showed an improvement in functioning at follow-up; 0.82 (95% CI 0.01 to 1.63; p=0.048) CONCLUSION: Treating PGP with acupuncture or TENS resulted in maintenance of functioning and physical activity and also less pain and concern about pain. Either intervention could be recommended as a non-pharmacological alternative for pain relief and may enable pregnant women to stay active.

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