Cancer Pain Treatment with Acupuncture
Cancer pain is a form of “chronic” pain linked to cancer. Any group of factors can cause it, from the cancer itself to the side effects of the therapies you use to treat it. No matter why you feel cancer pain, it can devastate your quality of life and your ability to work. The Jersey City cancer pain treatment specialists of Jersey Premier Pain focus on treating cancer pain patients using a unique approach that addresses pain at its source rather than relying on indirect means. Call us today at 201-386-8800 for an appointment so we can create a plan to help you.
Many of our treatment plans include acupuncture techniques that stimulate your body’s natural healing power. We’d like to answer some common questions we receive on what acupuncture is, how it helps cancer pain patients, and what you can expect from an acupuncture treatment at Jersey Premier Pain.
What Does Acupuncture Target?
To design an acupuncture treatment plan, your pain professional must consider what’s causing your discomfort. Cancer pain is not a one-size-fits-all condition and could be caused by:
- Cancer growth – A tumor that spreads or grows could attack or rub against other organs. If cancer is metastatic (breaks free from its original site and spreads throughout the body), growth in another area of the body could become cancer pain.
- Chemotherapy and radiation therapy – These powerful drugs are effective at finding and killing cancer, but patients who are particularly sensitive to medications may experience pain as a side effect.
- Surgery – After surgery to remove a tumor, you may experience cancer pain as the surgical site heals. This type of pain is not usually chronic, but if it does not go away after a few weeks, we can help you manage it.
- “Phantom” pain – Some cancers are severe enough to require amputation of a limb or other body part. These patients may experience pain or discomfort from where the limb is “supposed to be”, which is neuropathic in nature. Phantom pain is a genuine phenomenon that our providers can help you manage.
- Referred pain – Our body components are uniquely interconnected. This can cause us referred pain, but it is also precisely why acupuncture works. Perhaps you feel cancer-related pain in a different location from where the tumor itself exists. We can use acupuncture and other pain management techniques to address referred pain where it happens.
Acupuncture can treat cancer pain associated with:
- Soft tissue organs – Cancerous growths pressing against soft-tissue organs could cause rapid and intense pain.
- Muscular pain – Muscle pain associated with cancer progression could take multiple forms, from dull, strain-like sensations to severe throbbing pain.
- Bone pain – Bone pain can occur when a tumor rubs against bone or even invades it. Cancer pain linked to bone is less intense than pain related to soft tissue organs.
- Pinched or depressed nerves – Cancers that grow to contact nerves have a direct line to the body’s pain system. Nerve pain could be accompanied by other sensations, so you may feel rubbing or “the creepy-crawlies” in addition.
- The spinal cord – If cancer pain is associated with your spinal cord, it requires immediate attention. A tumor that presses against spinal cord nerves can cause some patients to lose control of bodily functions or even become paralyzed.
How Can Acupuncture Treat Cancer Pain?
Acupuncture is a holistic medical practice that people have used for millennia, especially in China and the eastern world. Simply defined, it involves “healing with needle stimulation.” A specially trained acupuncturist will insert extremely fine, single-use needles of various lengths into designated points on the body that are believed to stimulate pain relief. Sometimes, they will manipulate the needles to enhance the effect of the therapy.
The most common acupuncture points to treat cancer pain are located on:
- The face
- The ears
- The forearm
- The hands
- The legs, below the knee
- The feet
- The back
Not all acupuncture involves needles, and a therapist may also apply other techniques which are less invasive but equally effective. Other techniques an acupuncturist may use include:
- Acupressure – This technique uses firm pressure on the same acupuncture points. A skilled therapist may teach you acupressure techniques you can use yourself when you feel a cancer pain attack.
- Moxibustion – In moxibustion, an herbal substance is burned near the acupuncture points to warm them. Moxibustion is a type of heat therapy.
- Electrical stimulation – Whether accompanied by conventional acupuncture or used on its own, electrical stimulation can relieve tension in muscles affected by cancer pain.
- Magnetic stimulation – This technique uses magnets placed over acupuncture points. Some researchers believe magnetic fields can impact your body’s healing processes.
- Heated acupuncture – In heated acupuncture, the therapist will heat the needles before insertion or apply heat after insertion. Heat stimulation maximizes relief from certain types of cancer pain, especially in muscles.
What Can I Expect from an Acupuncture Session?
Acupuncture is intended to be as calming as possible, and the therapeutic environment is no exception. Some patients prefer to experience acupuncture under dim light, with closed eyes, or in conjunction with soothing music or candles.
Some patients might feel minor discomfort when the needles are inserted, then tingling or numbness as the therapist manipulates them. Because the needles are extremely fine and sharp, any discomfort they experience does not last for long.
Sometimes, the therapist may use smaller “studs,” which can be left in place for a few days. You may remove them on your own.
What Is the Evidence Supporting the Use of Acupuncture for Cancer Pain?
Recent clinical trials seem to indicate acupuncture’s efficacy in treating cancer pain. A 2021 randomized controlled clinical trial published in JAMA found that acupuncture with electrical stimulation or acupuncture involving points on the ear improved patients’ self-reported pain levels over twelve weeks. Other studies found that acupuncture improved cancer pain in participants suffering from multiple myeloma and was highly effective alongside other pain management methods.
Contact Our Cancer Pain Acupuncture Team Today
Escape cancer pain with the pain treatment specialists at Jersey Premier Pain. Our team of doctors and therapists – Jon Mingoia, Sunil Hamadani, and Winson Ma – evaluate acute and chronic pain linked to cancer from their Jersey City office.
We design unique treatment plans that synthesize “conventional” pain management strategies with whole-body healing techniques to soothe discomfort and help you reclaim your quality of life.