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Postmenopausal women with breast cancer who experience arthralgia due to aromatase inhibitor drugs may benefit from acupuncture. American researchers randomised 226 postmenopausal women to true acupuncture, sham acupuncture or a waiting list. Patients receiving real or sham acupuncture had treatments twice a week for six weeks and then once a week for another six weeks, and all patients were followed up for an additional 12 weeks. Sham acupuncture consisted of minimally invasive needling at non-acupuncture points. In the true acupuncture group, a joint-specific protocol was tailored to focus on up to three of the patient’s most painful joints. The acupuncture protocol was developed in a previous study, based on combining TCM prescriptions for bi syndrome with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA) protocol to relieve pain and decrease stress. Compared with the sham acupuncture and wait-list control, true acupuncture resulted in a statistically significant reduction of their worst joint pain at six weeks. Fifty-eight per cent of women who received true acupuncture had at least a two-point reduction in their pain at six weeks, compared with 33.3 per cent in the sham group and 31.4 per cent in the wait-list control group. There were also improvements in average pain, pain severity and stiffness at six weeks in the true acupuncture group. At the six-month follow-up, average worst pain was still lower in the acupuncture group compared with sham and wait-list, respectively.

Effect of Acupuncture vs Sham Acupuncture or Waitlist Control on Joint Pain Related to Aromatase Inhibitors Among Women With Early-Stage Breast Cancer: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2018 Jul 10;320(2):167-176.

Can Acupuncture Keep Women on Their Breast Cancer Drugs? JAMA. 2018 Aug 28;320(8):744-746.

 

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