Study Shows Acupuncture Helps After Mastectomies

Acupuncture has been gaining serious popularity over the years. Now, more than 3,000 physicians use acupuncture as part of their clinical practice in the United States.

Women who suffer from breast cancer often have to undergo serious invasive surgery and acupuncture is being used more and more to help alleviate some of the subsequent pain.

According to News Medical Life Sciences, the women who received acupuncture treatments after their mastectomies at Abbott Northwestern Hospital had much greater reductions in pain, nausea, and anxiety, and were able to better cope on the first day after the surgery compared to patients who received traditional care.

“We are always looking for non-pharmacologic pain management options,” said Sue Sendelbach, RN, PhD, director of Nursing Research at Abbott Northwestern. “This study showed that acupuncture in the hospital after mastectomy is not only feasible, it also appears to decrease patients’ symptoms of pain, nausea, and anxiety.”

EurekAlert reports that researchers took data from an experiment involving 58 breast cancer survivors experiencing various kinds of pains and symptoms. The benefits of administering electro-acupuncure were examined for each of the breast cancer survivors. The study showed the testing to be equal to, if not better than, gabapentin in helping to alleviate pain, reduce hot flashes, and improve the quality of sleep.

“We chose electro-acupuncture in particular because it has been shown to affect endorphins and other central neuropeptides offering biological plausibility for addressing hot flashes,” Dr. Shelia N. Garland, PhD, of Memorial University and one of the researchers involved in the study.

According to Endocrinology Advisor, the patients were randomly assigned to receive eight weeks of treatment with either the acupuncture method or gabapentin.

“This study shows that, for women who need or choose to avoid medications, electro-acupuncture may be an option because it has minimal risks,” said JoAnn Pinkerton, MD, and executive director of the North American Menopause Society.

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