A study appearing in the October 5, 2006 issue of the journal Pain showed the value of TENS in reducing labor pain. TENS is an acronym for transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. In this study, the electrical stimulation was applied to four acupuncture points (LI-4 and SP-6 bilaterally). The subjects of the study were 100 women who were about to give birth. They were randomly divided into two groups. At the onset of labor, one group received actual TENS stimulation to the points at a frequency of 100 Hz and a burst frequency of 2 Hz with the pulse lasting 30 minutes whenever pain relief was needed or requested by the subject. The control group received very low electrical stimulation without a burst frequency at the onset of labor.
The two groups were assessed using a visual analog scale (VAS) for pain (range of 0 -10, 0 is no pain, 1 is very little pain, 10 is the most unbearable pain imaginable). They were assessed before the TENS stimulation, at a half hour after the application of TENS, and at a hour after the onset of TENS stimulation. In the group receiving the TENS, 62% of the subjects had a reduction in the VAS by 3 or more and 96% said they would use this method of pain control in the future.
Another study appearing in Obstetrics and Gynecology (August, 1998;92(2):245-248) looked at women who had prenatal acupuncture to those who did not. The subjects were 80 women who were matched for age and parity; 40 received acupuncture and 40 did not. Overall, the group receiving acupuncture had shorter labor than the subjects who did not.