Integrative Cancer Care, Medical Acupuncture

Acupuncture as a Therapeutic Treatment for Cancer Pain

ACUPUNCTURE FOR CANCER PAIN: THE CLINICAL EVIDENCE

A Comparative Literature Review in 2017 found a potentially positive effect of acupuncture in treating cancer pain.3 The review included two systematic reviews, the older of which was unable to draw firm conclusions due to small sample sizes and clinical differences in the patients being treated. The more recent review included 36 trials and over 2200 randomised patients. They found a moderate effect size of acupuncture on cancer-related pain, and concluded that “acupuncture is effective in relieving cancer-related pain, particularly malignancy-related and surgery-induced pain.”4

Although this review did not report on risks arising from treatment with acupuncture, elsewhere studies have indicated that acupuncture is a feasible and safe treatment56 and may successfully be used to treat cancer patients for symptom management due to the low risks associated with its use.7

HOW ACUPUNCTURE TREATS CANCER PAIN: BIOLOGICAL MECHANISMS

Acupuncture’s mechanisms for treating cancer pain are thought to be similar to those for treating other painful conditions, whether the pain is categorised as acute or chronic.

These mechanisms have been researched extensively for over 60 years, and while there is still much left to learn about acupuncture mechanisms and the human body in general, the neural pathways from acupuncture point stimulation to the spinal cord and then to the deactivation of the pain centres in the brain have been mapped.89Acupuncture has been demonstrated to activate a number of the body’s own opioids as well as improve the brain’s sensitivity to opioids.10 A number of other biochemicals involved in pain reduction have been found to be released and regulated by acupuncture stimulation, including ATP, adenosine, GABA and substance P.11 Acupuncture has also been demonstrated to reduce activity in the parts of the brain associated with the perception of pain and increase activity in brain areas associated with improved self-regulation.12

 

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Acupuncture as a Therapeutic Treatment for Cancer Pain

Mairi Caughey, BSc and Mel Hopper Koppelman, DAc, MSc, MSc

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Integrative Cancer Care, Medical Acupuncture

Understanding the Benefits of Acupuncture Treatment for Cancer Pain Management

  • Two types of pain caused by cancer treatment in which several acupuncture studies have been conducted are: (1) aromatase inhibitor–associated arthralgia (AIAA) and aromatase inhibitor–associated musculoskeletal symptoms (AIMSS) and (2) chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN).
  • There is a moderate amount of evidence supporting the analgesic effect of acupuncture. In selected patients, acupuncture can be a useful addition to a comprehensive pain management plan.
  • Acupuncture is generally safe when performed by properly trained practitioners. There are specific safety precautions for cancer patients.
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Integrative Cancer Care, Medical Acupuncture

Systematic review and meta‐analysis of acupuncture to reduce cancer‐related pain

Systematic review and meta‐analysis of acupuncture to reduce cancer‐related pain

our findings support acupuncture as an effective treatment in alleviating pain among cancer patients and survivors, particularly malignancy-related and surgery-induced pain. To expand the application of acupuncture on cancer-related pain, investigators should clearly define the types of cancer pain (e.g. malignancy related pain) as inclusion criteria in the future studies.
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Integrative Cancer Care

Acupuncture for Chemoradiation Therapy-Related Dysphagia in Head and Neck Cancer.

Acupuncture for Chemoradiation Therapy-Related Dysphagia in Head and Neck Cancer: A Pilot Randomized Sham-Controlled Trial

“A blinded, sham-controlled, randomized clinical trial to evaluate the effectiveness of verum acupuncture in treating dysphagia-related QOL in patients with advanced stage of HNC undergoing intense CRT found the procedure to be feasible, safe, and well tolerated. Dysphagia-related QOL improved with both active acupuncture and sham acupuncture.”

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Figure 1.

Acupuncture points used for chemoradiation-related dysphagia in head and neck cancer. To avoid the radiation field, acupuncture points needled before week 4 after CRT (phase 1, solid round circles) were selected to avoid the chin and neck area. Additional points were added at week 4 after CRT visit (phase 2, solid diamonds) and at the week 12 after CRT (phase 3, solid triangles). Electrostimulation was added starting with the third visit.

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Medical Acupuncture

Electro-acupuncture for post-stroke spasticity: a systematic review and meta-analysis

“Electro-acupuncture combined with conventional routine care has the potential of reducing spasticity in upper and lower limb and improving overall and lower extremity motor function and activity of daily living for spasticity patients within 180 days post stroke.”

Electro-acupuncture for post-stroke spasticity: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Data Synthesis

In total, 22 trials met the search criteria and were included involving 1,425 participants. The estimated add-on effects of EA to reduce spasticity in upper limb measured by MAS (SMD: -0.57[-0.84, -0.29]) and improve overall motor function measured by FMA (MD: 10.60[8.67, 12.53]) were significant. It was also found that for spasticity in lower limb, lower-limb motor function and activity of daily living, significant add-on effects of EA were also shown (SMD: -0.88[-1.42, -0.35], MD:4.42[0.06, 8.78] and MD: 6.85[3.64, 10.05] respectively), though with high heterogeneity. For upper-limb motor function, no significant add-on effects of EA was received.

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Medical Acupuncture, TMJ & Spine care

A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing the Effectiveness of Electroacupuncture versus Medium-Frequency Electrotherapy for Discogenic Sciatica

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“Electric Acupuncture showed greater short-term and long-term benefits for chronic discogenic sciatica than Medium-Frequency Electrotherapy, and the effect of EA was superior to that of MFE.”

 

A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing the Effectiveness of Electroacupuncture versus Medium-Frequency Electrotherapy for Discogenic Sciatica

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 9502718, 9 pages

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Medical Acupuncture

Exploring spatial patterns of acupoint indications from clinical data

We found that each acupoint had a distinct spatial pattern of indications, and that the patterns were strongly associated with routes of the meridian.

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Exploring spatial patterns of acupoint indications from clinical data: A STROBE-compliant article

Jung, Won-Mo KMD, MS; Lee, Soon-Ho KMD; Lee, Ye-Seul KMD, MPD; Chae, Younbyoung KMD, PhD*

Section Editor(s): Hanaoka., Kazuo

doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000006768
Research Article: Observational Study
Abstract: Every acupoint has specific indications for acupuncture treatment. These indications, primarily established based on the meridian system, have spatial patterns of symptoms on the human body. We investigated the associations between acupoints and symptom locations in 75 patients with chronic pain who were asked to sketch the localization of their symptoms on body schemes using the bodily sensation map (BSM) system. Combining the BSM and clinical information, we estimated the statistical parameters of relationships between acupoints and spatial information on symptoms. We further visualized spatial patterns of indications of the representative acupoints on the human body template using a Z score. Using a statistical parametric map method, we observed significant activation patterns of 12 acupoint indications with spatial patterns. The 1st group of patterns was distant from the acupoint locus and was strongly associated with the route of the corresponding meridian. The 2nd group was found around the acupoint locus, the majority of which was located at the trunk or back areas. Intensive investigations of the spatial patterns of acupoint indications would be a novel paradigm to explain point specificity of acupuncture treatment based on the original concept of the meridian system. Future studies should include more meaningful clinical data with larger sample sizes.
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