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Acupuncture- Joint, Chronic, Nerve, Muscle

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“In the United States, acupuncture (AC) is used to treat a variety of symptoms and conditions associated with cancer and the side effects of cancer treatments…”

Long-term cancer survivors face a variety of short, long-term and late stage side effects including:

  • Nerve pain (CIPN)-
  • Chronic pain-
  • Joint pain-
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth)

Having remained in complete remission since my original diagnosis in 2/94, I am more likely to die of one of my long-term side effects than I am of my cancer called multiple myeloma.

Acupuncture can help all of these challenges.  I know because I’ve been getting acupuncture treatments for years now. I began acupuncture therapy when I began to experience nerve pain. As I developed other long-term side effects such as chronic non-cancer pain, I found myself researching and writing about acupuncture more and more on PeopleBeatingCancer.

I have experienced each of the bulleted side-effects above and I have managed to stabilize each.

The studies below, combined with my personal experience do not proved that acupuncture is a “cure all.” No therapy is 100% effective all the time.  I exercise, supplement, stretch, take CBD oil, as well as undergo regular acupuncture sessions.

David Emerson

  • Cancer Survivor
  • Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer 

Because I’ve benefitted from acupuncture for so long, I’ve researched and written about this evidence-based but non-conventional therapy. 

The Value of Acupuncture in Cancer Care

“In the United States, acupuncture is used to treat a variety of symptoms and conditions associated with cancer and the side effects of cancer treatments.

A number of cancer centers in the U.S., including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) in Boston, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston are integrating acupuncture into cancer care.

This trend parallels a broader trend of increasing use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) among cancer patients, estimated in some surveys to range between 48% and 83%.

Specific use of acupuncture by cancer patients is estimated to range between 1.7% and 31%. Despite interest by conventional care providers and the public in the integration of acupuncture into cancer care, the full extent to which acupuncture can be applied to oncology care is limited by research evidence regarding its efficacy and safety in treating and preventing cancer-related symptoms.

Acupuncture for chronic pain

“Although acupuncture is widely used to manage chronic pain, it remains highly controversial, largely due to the lack of a clear mechanism. Several systematic reviews of acupuncture for chronic pain have been conducted. These have included trials of variable quality, typically leading a finding that weaknesses in the data do not allow conclusions to be drawn .

Meta-analyses have been limited due to variation in study endpoints used in randomized trials. We conducted an individual patient data meta-analysis of acupuncture for chronic pain, restricted to high quality trials, with data available for 17,922 participants from 29 of 31 eligible trials

Comment-Acupuncture is associated with reductions in chronic pain as compared to sham acupuncture and as compared to no acupuncture control. Differences between true and sham acupuncture are smaller than those between true acupuncture and no acupuncture control…”

Acupuncture treatment improves nerve conduction in peripheral neuropathy

“The etiology of peripheral neuropathy (PN) often remains elusive resulting in a lack of objective therapeutic strategies.

We conducted a pilot study to evaluate the therapeutic effect of AC on PN as measured by changes in nerve conduction and assessment of subjective symptoms.

One hundred and ninety-two consecutive patients with PN as diagnosed by nerve conduction studies (NCS) were evaluated over a period of 1 year. Of 47 patients who met the criteria for PN of undefined etiology, 21 patients received aAC  therapy according to classical Chinese Medicine as defined by the Heidelberg Model, while 26 patients received the best medical care but no specific treatment for PN.

Sixteen patients (76%) in the AC group improved symptomatically and objectively as measured by NCS, while only four patients in the control group (15%) did so. Three patients in the AC group (14%) showed no change and two patients an aggravation (10%), whereas in the control group seven showed no change (27%) and 15 an aggravation (58%). Importantly, subjective improvement was fully correlated with improvement in NCS in both groups. The data suggest that there is a positive effect of AC on PN of undefined etiology as measured by objective parameters…”

Dysphagia- Effects of nape acupuncture combined with swallowing rehabilitation on dysphagia in pseudobulbar palsy

RESULTS- The scores for RSST, WST, and SSA in both groups were lower than before the therapy (P < 0.001), although the changes were more marked in the experimental group than in the control group (RSST and WST, P< 0.005; SSA, P< 0.001). Both groups recorded changes in SWAL-QOL index after the therapy (P< 0.001); and the experimental group scored higher than the control group (P< 0.001). The efficacy of AC was not correlated with location (P > 0.05), but was related to onset age (P < 0.05) and onset frequency (P < 0.01).

CONCLUSION- Nape AC combined with rehabilitative swallowing training has an effect on dysphagia caused by pseudobulbar palsy and improves quality of life…”

Effect of True and Sham Acupuncture on Radiation-Induced Xerostomia Among Patients With Head and Neck Cancer 

“Conclusions and Relevance  This randomized clinical trial found that TA resulted in significantly fewer and less severe RIX symptoms 1 year after treatment vs SCC. However, further studies are needed to confirm clinical relevance and generalizability of this finding and to evaluate inconsistencies in response to sham AC between patients in the United States and China…”

Acupuncture Improves AI-Related Joint Pain in Breast Cancer Patients

“Patients with hormone-positive breast cancer are often administered long-term aromatase inhibitors (AIs) to reduce the risk of relapse, but these drugs have many side effects, including joint pain.

New results show that AC effectively reduced this AI-related joint pain, and importantly, the effect persisted 40 weeks after treatment was discontinued…

“The long-term durability of AC for pain makes it an attractive option, as AI joint-pain is chronic,” he said. “Many women need to be on AIs for 5 or 10 years to prevent cancer recurrence.”

Acupuncture for Wrinkles 

“And at the American Association of Oriental Medicine’s annual meeting last year, the two workshops on facial AC were standing-room-only, said Rebekah Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Sacramento, Calif.- based group…”



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