Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation improves low back pain during pregnancy.
ABSTRACT To compare the efficiency of transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) with those of exercise and acetaminophen for the treatment of pregnancy-related low back pain (LBP) during the third trimester of pregnancy.
This prospective study included 79 subjects (≥32 gestational weeks) with visual analog scale (VAS) pain scores ≥5. Participants were divided randomly into a control group (n = 21) and three treatment groups [exercise (n = 19); acetaminophen (n = 19); TENS (n = 20)]. The VAS and the Roland-Morris disability questionnaire (RMDQ) were completed before and 3 weeks after treatment to assess the impact of pain on daily activities.
During the study period, pain intensity increased in 57% of participants in the control group, whereas pain decreased in 95% of participants in the exercise group and in all participants in the acetaminophen and TENS groups. Post-treatment VAS and RMDQ values were significantly lower in the treatment groups (p < 0.001). VAS and RMDQ scores indicated a significantly greater degree of pain relief in the TENS group than in the exercise and acetaminophen groups (p < 0.001). No adverse effect of TENS application on pregnant women was observed during the study.
TENS is an effective and safe treatment modality for LBP during pregnancy. TENS improved LBP more effectively than did exercise and acetaminophen.