Back pain is a common complaint for many women during pregnancy and may occur as early as your first trimester. As your uterus grows, your abdominal muscles stretch out to accommodate your developing baby and belly, and as a result your abdominal muscles become weaker. As your belly enlarges, your center of gravity shifts forward, which puts tremendous stress on your spine. Additionally, there are normal hormonal changes that loosen your ligaments and relax your joints in preparation for the delivery of your baby. All of these factors, not to mention the additional weight you're carrying around, can lead to spinal and pelvic pain as well as tight and achy muscles. 

While lower back and pelvic pain during pregnancy is completely normal and typically no cause for concern, it can be extremely frustrating and distracting, often making is hard for you (and sometimes your partner!) to sleep at night, making your days long and tiring. For some women their back pain may escalate into sciatica (pain that travels into the hip and down your leg). 

During pregnancy, there are very few medical interventions that are considered safe when it comes to dealing with pregnancy related back pain and sciatica symptoms. If your typical response to aches and pains is to grab the bottle of Aleve and go on with your day - that's not happening while baby is on board! That doesn't mean you have to just live with the pain, though. Chiropractors trained in the Webster Technique are competent care providers who know how to safely and effectively treat your pregnancy related back and pelvic pain. 

Dr. Pierce uses not only the Webster Technique to treat pregnancy related back pain, but will also spend time manually treating the tightened muscles around your spine, hips and pelvis causing pain, but educate you on exercises, stretches and daily habits that will help reduce your pain and in many cases eliminate it completely - and naturally. Many patients also benefit from the inclusion of acupuncture and/or trigger point dry needling to treat their back pain during pregnancy. Acupuncture, provided by a qualified provider is safe during pregnancy and can be extremely beneficial for pain and stress relief, pregnancy induced nausea and may help you sleep more soundly. 

What is Dry Needling and what is the difference between Dry Needling and Acupuncture? 




Dry Needling is a treatment technique where thin filiform needles are inserted through the skin into pathological areas of the muscle known as "trigger points" for the purpose of relieving myofascial pain and muscle spasm. These are the same needles used in traditional acupuncture therapy, they are solid rather than hollow, and no medication is injected.

Dry needling is used in conjunction with other manual therapy techniques and therapeutic exercise.

When performing dry needling, there may be a "twitch response" where the specific band of muscle involuntarily contracts in response to insertion of the needle.  Beneficial effects can occur without elicitation of the twitch response.  Sometimes electrotherapy is also applied with the trigger point needling technique, this is referred to as electroacupuncture. If electroacupuncture is considered appropriate, small clips are attached to specific needling locations and a mild electrical current is applied. Electrical muscle stimulation aids in stimulating blood flow, reducing pain and relieving muscular spasm. 

In the State of California, the only providers who can legally perform these types of needling techniques are licensed acupuncturists and medical doctors. A licensed acupuncturist's education and training in needling techniques requires a Master's degree obtained after 3 years of education and training. 

Compared to Dry Needling, Acupuncture, when applied as a form of traditional Chinese medicine, uses acupuncture points on the surface of the body that are located along "meridians" that correspond with the internal organs and the energies associated with those organs. Traditional acupuncture techniques aim to relieve congestion of energy and blood, thereby restoring circulation and reducing symptoms associated with said qi (energy) stagnation. 

Can Acupuncture Induce Labor?

So you are approaching your 40th week of pregnancy and you and your doctor are ready for baby to come....but baby has other plans.  It's so warm and cozy in there!

What can you do?

First off, there are a few reasons why your labor is failing to progress.

  • If the baby's head is too large for the birth canal, (cephalopelvic disproportion (CPD)), this will stall labor. If CPD is suspected before labor your doctor will assess the situation and often times regular (vaginal) delivery is still considered safe.
  • Position of the baby is another predictor.  It is optimal for the baby to be positioned head down facing your back.  (the back of baby's head should be toward the front of your abdomen).  This position makes it easiest for baby to pass through the birth canal during labor. If it is detected that the baby is not positioned optimally your doctor will make suggestions on how changing your positions may help encourage the baby to change theirs.
  • Another cause for delayed labor is lack of strength of contractions.  If contractions are not strong enough or too far apart this will certainly not help things move along! If your cervix is dilating too slowly or ceases to dilate, your doctor or midwife will assess the strength of your contractions to determine if this is the cause.  Typical medical interventions will include rupturing the membrane (breaking the water) to speed up contractions and/or administering a drug called Pitocin.

ANTOHER option.... is Acupuncture!

Barring any issues with the size of the baby vs. size of the mother's birth canal, acupuncture for inducing labor is a great option! Acupuncture has been used for centuries in Asian countries to naturally and safely speed up the labor process. 

In a study conducted at the University of North Carolina, utilizing acupuncture for this purpose resulted in patients being more likely to go into labor without a medical "push."

Seventy percent of the women who got acupuncture went into labor on their own, compared to 50% who received standard care. The women who got acupuncture were also less likely to deliver by cesarean section -- 39% compared to 17%.  "We had almost a 50% reduction in the C-section rate".

Dr. Tara Pierce is a board certified licensed acupuncturist practicing in Newport Beach. Dr. Pierce has treated many women during pregnancy and helped many promote natural labor induction through acupuncture treatment.  Acupuncture is safe when performed by a licensed acupuncturist.

*Ask your doctor or midwife if you are a candidate for labor induction acupuncture treatment.


"A randomized controlled trial of acupuncture for initiation of labor in nulliparous women," The Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine, August 2006.
Terry Harper, MD, obstetrician and maternal fetal medicine specialist, Perinatal Associates of New Mexico.

Pineapple for Arthritis?


Pineapple contains a substance called Bromelain.  Bromelain is a mixture of proteolytic enzymes (enzymes that aid in the digestion of proteins).  Bromelain is also thought to possess anti-inflammatory effects.  The anti-inflammatory effects of Bromelain may help reduce painful symptoms associated many forms of arthritis.  

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, An estimated 52.5 million adults in the United States reported being told by a doctor that they have some form of arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus, or fibromyalgia.  The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis (overuse/wear and tear arthritis). Other common rheumatic conditions include gout, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.  People who are overweight or obese report doctor-diagnosed arthritis more often than people with a lower body mass index (BMI). 

While Bromelain can be ingested through consumption of pineapple, it is also available in concentrated supplement form over the counter or through your health care provider.  In addition to adding Bromelain (and/or pineapple) into your diet, conservative therapies such as chiropractic, acupuncture and therapy can be extremely beneficial. Earlier stages of arthritic conditions often benefit from chiropractic care and specific exercise therapy to help maintain and improve mobility of joints and strength.  Acupuncture is also a great treatment for pain, with little to no negative associated side effects!  

To find out more about how chiropractic and acupuncture may be right for you contact us!  

**If you are taking any over the counter or prescription NSAID pain relievers, blood thinners, blood pressure medications, chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics or medications for anxiety or depression, consult your prescriber before you start supplementing with Bromelain to avoid any potential drug-herb interactions. 


It's Winesday!!

Wednesday has become synonymous with the terms of endearment "Hump Day" and "Winesday".  Once we have made it over the hump we are closer to the weekend and (hopefully) relaxation and decompression from the stressful week we endured. 

I thought it would be fun to share some health benefits associated with (moderate) indulgence in "Winesday".  I said moderate, so don't start pounding bottles tonight!

Compliments of this Food & Wine article. 

The Benefit: Promotes Longevity

The Evidence: Wine drinkers have a 34 percent lower mortality rate than beer or spirits drinkers. Source: a Finnish study of 2,468 men over a 29-year period, published in the Journals of Gerontology, 2007.

The Benefit: Reduces Heart-Attack Risk

The Evidence: Moderate drinkers suffering from high blood pressure are 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack than nondrinkers. Source: a 16-year Harvard School of Public Health study of 11,711 men, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 2007.

The Benefit: Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

The Evidence: Red-wine tannins contain procyanidins, which protect against heart disease. Wines from Sardinia and southwest France have more procyanidins than other wines. Source: a study at Queen Mary University in London, published in Nature, 2006.

The Benefit: Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

The Evidence: Moderate drinkers have 30 percent less risk than nondrinkers of developing type 2 diabetes. Source: research on 369,862 individuals studied over an average of 12 years each, at Amsterdam's VU University Medical Center, published in Diabetes Care, 2005.

The Benefit: Lowers Risk of Stroke

The Evidence: The possibility of suffering a blood clot–related stroke drops by about 50 percent in people who consume moderate amounts of alcohol. Source: a Columbia University study of 3,176 individuals over an eight-year period, published in Stroke, 2006.

The Benefit: Cuts Risk of Cataracts

The Evidence: Moderate drinkers are 32 percent less likely to get cataracts than nondrinkers; those who consume wine are 43 percent less likely to develop cataracts than those drinking mainly beer. Source: a study of 1,379 individuals in Iceland, published in Nature, 2003.

The Benefit: Cuts Risk of Colon Cancer

The Evidence: Moderate consumption of wine (especially red) cuts the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent. Source: a Stony Brook University study of 2,291 individuals over a four-year period, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2005.

The Benefit: Slows Brain Decline

The Evidence: Brain function declines at a markedly faster rate in nondrinkers than in moderate drinkers. Source: a Columbia University study of 1,416 people, published in Neuroepidemiology, 2006.


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