Having acupuncture was successful in relieving joint pain for women who experienced the discomfort as a side effect of their breast cancer treatment, a new study has found.
Women taking aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer treatment — which blocks the production of estrogen — often experience joint pain so severe it can turn them off from completing their therapy.
Acupuncture is often touted as a palliative care therapy during cancer treatment to reduce the amount of drugs and medication a patient has to take, but research on its efficacy is thin.
The latest study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Tuesday, divided 226 post-menopausal women into three groups. One received actual acupuncture, the second a sham treatment — women would receive needle inserts in their body but at non-pressure points — and the third received no treatment at all.
Acupuncture treatments took place twice a week for six weeks followed by once a week for six weeks. The participants rated their pain on a scale of zero to 10 at six-week intervals.
In the end, the true acupuncture group had an average pain rating two points less than before they started treatment. The sham group had pain at least one point less than their start point and the control group had at least 0.99 less pain than when they started.
Researchers called the pain reduction in the true acupuncture group “statistically significant but modest improvements.”
• Laura Kelly can be reached at email@example.com.
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