Acupuncture Might Ease Chemotherapy Pain12/12/11
MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture may help relieve
nerve pain caused by some cancer drugs, according to a new
Cancer drugs called taxanes, vinca alkaloids and platinum
compounds can damage peripheral nerves, especially in the calves
and feet, resulting in severe nerve pain or difficulty walking.
Currently, there is no effective treatment for the condition,
called chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy.
This small, preliminary study included six patients with
peripheral neuropathy who underwent acupuncture and five patients
with peripheral neuropathy who served as a comparison group. The
acupuncture treatment involved insertion of 20 needles at specific
points and depths, which were left in place for 20 minutes during
each of the 10 sessions delivered by a doctor over a period of
Tests of the signaling speed and intensity of two nerves in the
same calf were conducted before acupuncture and again six months
after chemotherapy. The same tests were carried out on patients who
did not receive acupuncture.
The researchers found that both the speed and intensity of nerve
signaling improved in five of the six patients who had acupuncture,
and the five patients also said that their condition had
Among patients in the comparison group, nerve speed stayed the
same in three, improved in one and decreased in one. Nerve
intensity improved in two, decreased in two, and stayed the same in
The study appears online in the journal
Acupuncture in Medicine.
Previous research has suggested that acupuncture may increase
blood flow in the legs, which may help repair nerve damage, the
study authors noted.
They concluded that the findings of their pilot study are
"encouraging" and warrant further investigation in a larger
The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about
chemotherapy side effects.
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