Acupuncture for Easing Cancer Pain

Updated: Aug 27, 2020

Acupuncture for Easing Cancer Pain

Pain is a subjective emotional reaction of individuals to conditions. It could either be a symptom, or an effect of different factors with regard to health. Cancer pain, for instance, can be caused by the cancerous tumors themselves, or can be caused by the treatments (like chemotherapy) that a cancer patient is undergoing. Given the sensitivity of disease, some family members of cancer patients tend to help ease cancer pain by having opioids always within reach. Of course there is nothing wrong about wanting to ease the pain of a loved one, but it should always be considered that too much opioids may cause dependence to them—and dependence means also acquiring the unwanted side effects of such drugs. So before opting to always having an opioid ready when cancer pain strikes, everyone should take note that it is not always the best option and that there are other reasons factoring to pain as well, like its social and psychological aspects.

Clinical applications of acupuncture for easing cancer pain have been done with utmost caution as doing or giving the wrong treatment to a sensitive case in health may precipitate its worsening. But the good thing about acupuncture is that it is not like opioids which automatically have negative repercussions when administered on a daily basis. Acupuncture is actually the “safe” counterpart of opioids as it has been documented to have the rarest to no side effects (adverse or not) in treating or alleviating mild to chronic pain, and yes, it includes cancer pain. However, it should be noted that in some random clinical trials, acupuncture in treating severe cancer pain is more effective when used together with analgesics. Yet the catch is that instead of taking in pain relievers at multiplied amount, acupuncture will serve as the needed “additional opioid” to alleviate the pain either caused by the tumors themselves, or the radiation therapies to cure the disease.

Aside from easing the cancer pain, incorporating acupuncture in clinical treatment also reduces the side effects caused by opioids such as constipation, nausea, vomiting, and additional drug weight on the kidneys. Acupuncture could be useful in any stage of the cancer treatment—may it be while undergoing chemotherapy sessions or while dealing with postoperative pain.

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