A New Method to Treat Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathic Pain

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If you are cancer patients and have to receive chemotherapy agents such as taxanes (paclitaxol- Taxol and docetaxel-Taxotere), vinca alkaloids (vinorelbine-Navelbine) and platinum compounds (cisplatin, carboplatin – Paraplatin and oxaliplatin – Eloxatin), it is likely that you might experience chemotherapy induced neuropathic pain (CHIPN). 

These chemotherapies damage to the peripheral nervous system and can produce severe pain and gait impairment, and is often a reason for stopping chemotherapy with these agents.  Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment of CHIPN. 

Now, a small pilot study, published in Acupuncture in Medicine, reported that acupuncture may help relieve the severe pain associated with chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. 

Investigators at theHanseMerkurCenterfor Traditional Chinese Medicine at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf,Hamburg,Germanyoffered acupuncture to 11 patients who had developed symptoms of peripheral neuropathy during chemotherapy for a variety of cancers. 

Six patients agreed to receive the treatment and the other five patients declined because the appointments were inconvenient for them. 

The 6 patients were treated with acupuncture for 10 weeks in addition to receiving best medical care, and the 5 patients who declined acupuncture received best medical care but no specific treatment for CIPN. 

During acupuncture treatment, 20 disposable, sterile needles were inserted at prescribed points to a depth of 10 to 30 mm and left in place for 20 minutes during each of the 10 sessions. Needle stimulation techniques were not used. 

The 6 patients in the acupuncture group were examined by nerve conduction studies to assess the signaling speed and intensity of 2 nerves in the same calf before treatment and again 6 months later after the end of treatment. 

The study found that acupuncture improved both the speed and the intensity of the nerve signaling in 5 of the 6 patients. These same patients also reported that their condition had improved.  The other 5 patients who did not receive acupuncture did not experience any improvement in nerve signaling. 

It is possible that acupuncture may increase the blood flow in the limbs and the increased blood flow contribute to nerve repair and relieve of neuropathic pain. 

If you have neuropathic pain due to chemotherapy, you might to consider seeking the help of acupuncturists who is experienced.  Acupuncture is not painful and does not have any major side effects. 

Source: Acupuncture Medicine December 5, 2011. 

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