Breast cancer hormone therapy can cause side effects such as joint pain and stiffness. Sometimes these symptoms can become so severe that treatment must be discontinued. The Journal of Clinical Oncology recently published the results of a new study, that showed acupuncture helped relieve pain and stiffness in breast cancer patients being treated with hormone therapies.
This randomized, controlled, blinded study,used a small group, 51 post menopausal women, who were undergoing hormone therapy for breast cancer, specifically with aromatase inhibitors (AIs). The research compared “true acupuncture” vs. “sham acupuncture” for relieving joint pain and stiffness in these patients.
The study found that the true acupuncture group had significant improvement in joint pain and stiffness as well as an improved sense of well-being. Furthermore, 20 percent of the patients taking pain relief medications did not need them after receiving acupuncture. This benefit was not seen in the control group.
The researchers at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in New York City concluded that ” Women with AI-induced arthralgias treated with TA (“true acupuncture”) had significant improvement of joint pain and stiffness, which was not seen with SA (“sham acupuncture”). Acupuncture is an effective and well-tolerated strategy for managing this common treatment-related side effect.”