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UQ researchers leading labour pain management trials
11 December 2014
One in three women experience severe back pain during labour and birth, but that might change thanks to a safe, simple and effective treatment developed by University of Queensland researchers.
Professor Sue Kildea and Dr Nigel Lee from the Mater Research Institute-UQ are leading trials into a pain management technique that involves injecting sterile water into the lower back of pregnant women during labour.
Professor Kildea, a Professor of Midwifery with the UQ School of Nursing and Midwifery, said earlier trials had shown the technique was an effective method of back pain management for about 90 per cent of women in labour.
“The injections have been likened to a brief wasp sting and there is pain relief almost immediately,” she said.
“Early research suggests that the injections may also reduce the likelihood of a woman needing a caesarean section during labour.
“This research trial will examine this effect.”
Professor Kildea said there were several theories about how the treatment worked.
“One is the gate-control theory, where you give a short, sharp, intense pain, similar to a wasp sting, that travels up the spine’s nerve fibres and blocks any other pain,” she said.
“The injection pain can also trigger natural pain-relieving hormones that are very strong and will take the back pain away.” UQ School of Nursing professor said the technique offered additional advantages during labour.
“As we are just injecting sterile water, there is no effect on the mother’s state of consciousness and no effect on baby, and it does not limit a mother’s mobility or adversely affect the labour progress,” Professor Kildea said.
“It a simple procedure and can be repeated as often as needed.”
Dr Lee and fellow research team-member Professor Lena Martensson, from Sweden, are considered to be the leading international researchers in the field.
The team has received National Health and Medical Research Centre funding to conduct the world’s largest study into the use of sterile water injections for back pain in labour.
They are seeking participants for the trial in 13 hospitals across Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.
The treatment is not yet available in most Australian maternity units. Results from the study will determine if water injections can help reduce the caesarean section rate and will provide data to help more Australian hospitals offer the procedure.
UQ Nursing School
The UQ School of Nursing and Midwifery offers the Bachelor of Nursing and the Master of Nursing Studies. Program:Bachelor of Nursing Location: Brisbane, Queensland Semester intake: February Duration: 3 years (Accelerated option: 2.5 years) Entry Requirements: Eligible applicants must have completed a high school diploma with a minimum GPA of 70% in the best six university courses. If you have completed post-secondary studies at the college and/or university level, those grades will also be considered. Prerequisite courses/subjects at the Grade 12 level include Senior English and one of Biological Science, Chemistry or Physics. Applications for credit for previous studies may be submitted by any person who gains entry to the nursing program. Program:Master of Nursing Studies Location: Brisbane, Queensland Semester intake: February Duration: 2 years Entry Requirements: Master of Nursing Studies applicants will need to have a bachelor degree, as well as meet special entry requirements as set out in the program rules covering requirements for clinical practice.
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