Alternative Treatments That Have Been Claimed Effective for Pregnancy Back Pain/discomfort

There are several suggested alternative treatments for back pain/discomfort during pregnancy which include acupuncture, Trochanteric Belt, EA(electro-acupuncture), Acupressure, Osteopathy, McTimoney Chiropractic, TENS, Exercise, Hot Baths, PRF( Pulse Radiofrequency) and more. However, this article will be addressing specifically the following four methods:

1.McTimoney Method
3.Hot Baths
4.PRF – Pulse Radiofrequency

McTimoney Method
This method is considered a gentle approach to caring for back pain. It’s a branch of the chiropractic profession and is taught in the UK at the McTimoney Chiropractic College.
It is considered a gentle whole – body approach which aims to correct the alignment of bones of the spine and other joints of the body to restore nerve functions. It is believed that this particular intervention helps to alleviate pain and promote natural health.

This alternative treatment approach utilizes Electrical stimulation for the treatment of pain. Low-frequency, low-intensity electricity stimulus is used. According to published information on TENS, in the 16th Century through the 18th century various electrodes were used for headache and other pain.

Based on finding, the 1st modern Pt-wearable TENS was patented in the US in 1974. Initially, it was used for evaluating the tolerance of chronic pain patients to electrical stimulation before the implantation of electrodes in the spinal cord dorsal column.

It has been said that although intended only for evaluating a patient’s tolerance to electrical stimulation, many of the patients who were initially tested got so much relief from the TENS itself that they never returned for the actual implant. Because the effects of electrical stimulation to the developing fetus is unknown, it is advised not to use TENS over the area of the uterus in pregnant women.

Hot Baths
This method relies on the therapeutic effect of heat from warm water as pain relief and the use of water for buoyancy, thus relieving joints and muscles of stress.

Those who endorse this back pain relief method suggest that a woman should avoid saunas and hot tubs during all three trimesters of pregnancy, however, it’s okay to have hot baths during pregnancy, as long as water in no warmer than 100 degrees F.

Radiofrequency current is used to create discrete thermal lesions in neural pathways in order to interrupt pain transmission. In pain medicine, radiofrequency lesions have been used to interrupt nociceptive pathways(ie the pathways that cause or react to pain) at various sites.

The question is however, which of the above four interventions really works to provide some form of pain relief or eliminate back pain/discomfort?

Hot Baths Method
Because of reports of the potential risk of maternal hyperthermia to a developing embryo or fetus, studies were done to determine the length of time a woman must stay in a hot tub or sauna before her temperate reaches 38.9 degrees C. In this particular study, the average temperature of the tub was 81.4 degrees C. Based on this study, published in the Pub Med journal on July 1, 1981, in none of these women did their temperature got to 38.9 degrees C before 15 minutes.

In fact, none of the women were able to remain in the sauna long enough for their temperature to reach 39.9 degrees C, which led to the conclusion that the usual use of hot tubs is unlikely to raise a woman’s body temperature to potentially teratogenic levels although prolonged use may.

PRF Method

According to an article “RPF Procedures in Chronic Pain” published in the Journal of Clinical Anesthesiology in December 2002, since PRF technolony has shown to be effective in the management of chronic pain it is an interesting option for the treatment of chronic pain and has much lower rate of side effects compared to other techniques.

McTimoney Method
So far, there is no research or medical peer review journal that has shown any substantial evidence in support of the effectiveness of the McTimoney approach.

Of all the above alternative treatments in question, it appears as if PRF and Hot Baths are the only two that may help to provide some form of effective relief from pregnancy back pain /discomfort. However, you are advised to consult with your physician if you are intrested in trying any of these methods.

TENS Method
The argument is somewhat conflicting. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in June 1990, and other recent studies, there’s considerable doubt in regards to the effectiveness of TENS.


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