Acupuncture and Acupressure Can Help Ease Pain – Including Cancer Pain

When you feel pain, especially over a long period, you become willing to do anything you can to alleviate the pain. You will try medical procedures… Trista - January 30, 2020

When you feel pain, especially over a long period, you become willing to do anything you can to alleviate the pain. You will try medical procedures and home remedies that you never thought you would, even if they will only give you a couple of hours of pain relief.

Over the last few years, acupuncture has become a growing phenomenon in the medical world. More people are turning to this type of pain therapy to help them manage. However, there are still many people who don’t believe that this medical procedure will work. We are here to explain to you how acupuncture eases pain – even pain from cancer.


Acupuncture is a medical procedure that pierces the skin at specific points to help ease the pain. Shutterstock.

Acupuncture Is A Special Type Of Medical Procedure

Acupuncture is a type of medical procedure that many people are afraid to try. However, once people try it, they continue to go back for another treatment. The frightening part of acupuncture is that several needles will penetrate a part of a person’s body.

The doctor will put the needles on specific points of your body, depending on where you are feeling the pain. Other than alleviating pain, the practice can treat certain health conditions. The use of acupuncture as a method to treat pain continues to grow as more people realize that it does help them.

Acupressure is a medical procedure that helps to alleviate pain with fingers instead of needles. Shutterstock.

Acupressure Is Similar To Acupuncture But Without Needles

Acupressure is a medical procedure that uses the same acupuncture points or acupoints to ease the pain. The most significant difference is that instead of needles, the doctor will press these points with their fingertips. They will also massage their client to help ease the pain.

Acupressure is just one way people can manage their pain without needing various needles to pierce their skin. It is an excellent option for people who are running out of resources for pain management and are afraid of needles – or for people who want to manage pain without the use of pain relief medications.

One study shows that acupuncture can help ease pain in cancer patients. Pixabay.

Chinese Tradition Is To Thank For Acupuncture And Acupressure

Acupuncture started in China thousands of years ago. This procedure has allowed millions of people to feel less pain, help them relax, and fight of disease. Acupuncture is known as bodywork therapy with roots. They believe that by focusing on the specific points, the pressure is released as the body and muscles relax. The more stressed and tense people feel, which often happens when in pain, the worse your pain becomes.

Acupressure follows the same history in China, but it’s a newer form of bodywork therapy. With acupressure, the Chinese focus on releasing energy centers in the body where the chi flow is blocked. Once the chi is unblocked, then the patient feels less pain.

One study shows that acupuncture can help ease pain in cancer patients. Pixabay.

While It Is Still In Early Development, Acupuncture Shows It Can Relieve Cancer Pain

There are many types of pain. Some pains, such as headaches, are easy to get rid of while other discomforts are more chronic. They tend to stick with the person for a long time, sometimes the rest of their life. Living in distress for any amount of time is psychologically damaging to a person.

However, when you are fighting disease on top of pain, it can all seem unbearable. Therefore, scientists and doctors are always looking into how acupuncture can help alleviate pain and for whom. One of the newest studies published in JAMA Oncology shows that this therapy can help ease cancer pain.

The research studies conducted about how acupuncture and acupressure help ease cancer pain are not consistent. Pixabay.

Unfortunately, The Study Is Not Conclusive

One of the biggest problems with studies, especially newer ones, is that you need to have several studies prove the same result because you can say the research is conclusive. While more than one study says acupuncture and acupressure help in easing cancer pain, other studies show that these therapies did not alleviate pain in cancer patients.

There are many reasons why the results are inconsistent. For instance, therapies always vary because everyone handles and reacts to pain management differently. Therefore, even though the studies do not have the same results, you shouldn’t rule acupuncture or acupressure out as pain management techniques.

Acupuncture could help replace some medication- but always talk to your doctor about the best plan for you. Shutterstock.

The Study Looked At Randomized Clinical Trials

Over the years, several researchers conducted studies that looked at how acupuncture and acupressure help ease the pain. Some of these studies focused on one therapy over the other, while other studies looked at both. There are a few studies that compared the two treatments, which is precisely what the study published in JAMA Oncology did.

Specifically, this study looked at comparing acupressure and acupuncture with other therapies to see which treatment helped manage pain, specifically from cancer, the best. The medication was another method that the study focused on. They also concentrate on other usual methods that cancer patients use for managing pain.

Acupuncture and acupressure are proven to help manage pain for cancer patients. Pixabay.

The Study Proves That Acupressure And Acupuncture Manage Pain Better

Like a few other studies that this study researched, the study concluded that some of the best pain management therapies for cancer patients are acupuncture or acupressure. There was not a vast difference between the two treatments as to which one helped people manage their pain more as many patients choose which form of therapy to use.

Because acupuncture and acupressure were “significantly associated” with decreases pain in comparison to pain relievers, the researchers suggest that more studies focusing on this topic are done in the future. While this study helps prove the therapies manage pain, the evidence level is considered moderate.

Researchers want to know if acupuncture and acupressure can help manage one type of cancer’s pain over other types of cancer. Pixabay.

Future Studies Should Focus More On Different Types Of Cancer

Even though researchers are calling for more studies, research proves that acupuncture and acupressure help reduce pain for cancer patients. However, this does not mean that the researchers can rest easy. In fact, researchers still have much work to do because they need to figure out if certain types of cancers are affected by the therapies more than other types of cancers.

For instance, does acupuncture or acupressure help manage breast cancer pain more than pancreatic cancer? These are questions that are still unanswered and need further evaluation so researchers can conclude.

Acupuncture can help decrease the use of pain medications, and therefore, reduce the number of people who become addicted to pain relief medications. Pixabay.

If Acupuncture Becomes A Standard Method To Treat Pain, Medication Use Will Decrease

Chinese herbalist and acupuncturist Janet Thomson from Oakland, California, is a supporter of using acupuncture to manage pain. She told Healthline during an interview, “If acupuncture becomes a more standard method of pain management, patients will be less likely to need opioids, or will not require doses that are as high.”

Thomson also stated, “Not only does that decrease the addictive potential of opioids but reduces the side effects of opioids such as constipation, which can be truly brutal for patients.” Thomson isn’t the only professional who believes that acupuncture has enormous benefits when it comes to easing pain – and decreasing addiction to pain relief medicine. In fact, most researchers who support this topic agree with Thomson.

Many professional acupuncturists support acupuncture and acupressure in easing pain. Pixabay.

People Have Seen How Acupuncture And Acupressure Helps Reduce The Pain For People With Cancer

Nicole Glathe is a licensed acupuncturist from California who also works as a pain management specialist. She has a firsthand personal story of how acupuncture helped her father as he fought brain cancer a few years ago. Glathe states, “As he (her father) rapidly progressed, he got increasingly severe headaches. His doctors threw every painkiller under the sun at him, but acupuncture was the only thing to reduce his pain to a manageable level.”

Because acupuncture helped her father so much, Glathe works hard to help other cancer patients ease their pain and is launching a clinically backed herbal medicine platform known as Elix, which helps people manage their pain. She will also record the results and contribute to studies on how acupuncture and acupressure helps ease pain in cancer patients.

Acupuncture and acupressure are not a part of mainstream medicine in the United States – yet. Pixabay.

With So Much Support, Why Do Acupuncture And Acupressure Remain Outside Of Mainstream Medicine?

There are many countries, such as China, who continue to use acupuncture and acupressure as a way to manage pain. For China, this tradition started thousands of years ago and quickly became a mainstream way to handle pain. However, even with all the support from acupuncturists, researchers, and other professionals, the United States still doesn’t consider it mainstream medicine.

While there are several reasons for this, one of them is that most people are cautious about this form of therapy. Most people who try it have either used medicines in the past, or they feel they are out of options and will try anything to manage their constant pain. Another reason is that it is not fully approved as a form of mainstream medicine.

Because pressing manipulates the pressure points, you start to feel less pain as chemical endorphins are released. Pixabay.

How Does Acupuncture and Acupressure Work?

When you look at the process of acupuncture and acupressure, which is either using pins or your fingertips to press down on a person’s skin, people wonder how this eases pain. First, it is a common belief that if you press down where you feel pain, it will ease up a little. However, the main reason, according to Chinese tradition, that the therapies work is because people focus on specific points in the body called acupoints.

These points connect to meridians or energy channels in your body. Pressing manipulates these energy points, causing healing. In return, the person feels less pain as the body releases its chemical endorphins.

Psychologically, there is little difference between taking opioids and acupuncture, which means the body reacts in the same way. Shutterstock.

Acupuncture And Acupressure Compare To Opioids In The Way They Reduce Pain

Over the last few years, people have become concerned about taking opioids because they are commonly associated with addiction. However, for people who deal with pain, opioids are often a choice for them because they work well in reducing pain. However, acupuncturists, like Glathe, state that the pain reduction patients exhibit with opioids is the same as they feel with acupressure or acupuncture.

According to Glathe the therapies and medication are similar because acupuncture activates the endogenous opioid system, which is the same reaction the body has when you take opioids. In other terms, people psychologically react the same, whether they take opioids or use acupuncture. Furthermore, acupuncture boosts your immune system, which also helps in managing pain.

For many people, acupuncture and acupressure eased their symptoms of chemotherapy, such as nausea, dry mouth, fatigue, and sleep problems. Pixabay.

Acupuncture And Acupressure Do More Than Ease The Cancer Patient’s Pain

So far, we have discussed how acupuncture and acupressure help ease the pain in cancer patients. However, this isn’t the only way that the therapies are known to help people fighting cancer. Many symptoms follow chemotherapy, which makes battling cancer harder. Fortunately, there might be a relief with these symptoms through the therapies.

According to several acupuncturists, the therapies help patients with dry mouth, anxiety, post-surgery pain, and fatigue; it aids in regulating your immune system, poor sleep, joint pain from aromatase inhibitors, nausea, and peripheral neuropathy. This doesn’t mean that acupuncture will treat different forms of cancer. Even if people start to feel better, it is essential to remember that acupuncture is easing the symptoms of chemo or cancer pain.

Acupuncture and acupressure have side effects that can happen but still seem “minor” to cancer patients. Pixabay.

What About The Adverse Side Effects Of Acutherapy?

Just like any other medical procedure, there are side effects of acupuncture and acupressure. Some of the side effects are only for acupuncture because you are poked with needles. For example, one side effect of acupuncture is bleeding, which is not a side effect of acupressure. However, both therapies have side effects of soreness and bruising on the acupoint sites.

Other side effects for both therapies include dizziness, fatigue, fainting, nerve damage, and increased pain. Very rarely, side effects like internal bleeding and internal organ damage occurred. Of course, these side effects can happen to anyone who decides to use the therapies for any reason. Fortunately, the side effects aren’t known to become more severe for patients with cancer.

One day, acupuncture and acupressure might replace opioids. Pixabay.

So Can Acupuncture And Acupressure Replace Opioids?

Once professionals started to realize that acupuncture and acupressure gave people the same relief as opioids, they began to wonder if the therapies can replace medication. Unfortunately, there aren’t very many studies completed that will prove these therapies can replace opioids. The study looked at this topic showed that the treatments could replace opioids. However, there is still a lot of research and analysis to inform a valid conclusion.

However, some people choose to use acupuncture or acupressure instead of opioids. Many professionals state that most people in the United States feel optimistic when looking at using acupuncture instead of opioids when they hear about the research. With the growing opioid crisis, more people are turning to other methods of pain relief.

In acupuncture, China uses wider needles than Japan. Pixabay.

Different Cultures Use Acupuncture Therapy In Different Ways

Acupuncture therapy started in China thousands of years ago. Over the course of centuries, other countries heard about the treatment and started using it. Other than China, Japan started to use therapy for several reasons. However, this doesn’t mean that everything remained the same during the growth of acupuncture. For instance, the Japanese decided to use smaller needles than the Chinese did during their therapies. The Chinese also decided to turn or twist the needles while they are sitting on their patient. They also tried adding heat to the sight to decrease the pain further.

Even with the few changes, many factors remained the same. Both China and Japan decided to use between four to ten needles in one location. The needles stay pierced for about 10 to 30 minutes. During the process, the patient is resting comfortably as they start to feel their pain subside.

When you start looking for the best acupuncturist for you, you need to make sure that they know and understand how to perform the therapy for your safety. Pixabay.

What Is The Best Advice For You If You Want To Try Acupuncture?

By now, you might be thinking about trying acupuncture and acupressure. Whether you want to try these therapies because you are in pain, fighting cancer, or for another reason, there is a lot of valuable advice you can follow from people who use these therapies.

First, you need to make sure that you seek someone who clearly understands acupuncture and is trained in the profession. This might be easier in some areas than others, but you always need to remember your safety. You can be harmed through acupuncture therapy if the person doesn’t follow the guidelines. Some states require that acupuncturists have a certificate or license. Do a little research in your state and see what its requirements are and make sure that the professional you choose follows these laws.

One study proves that acupressure eased several symptoms with breast cancer patients. Pixabay.

Breast Cancer Survivors Report Improvements With Many Symptoms Because Of Acupuncture

Recently, researchers at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center conducted a study that proves acupressure therapy helped improve many symptoms of breast cancer for several patients. The symptoms that the treatment improved include anxiety, poor sleep, depression, and pain. These symptoms accompany chronic fatigue, which means that improving these symptoms improved fatigue.

In the study, the women learned where the acupoints were on their bodies so they could perform the therapy themselves. After weeks of treatment, the women began reporting that they felt less tired, didn’t suffer from as much pain, and felt psychologically better.

Over half of the participants in the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center Study reported less than three regular symptoms of breast cancer while using acupressure therapy. Pixabay.

Acupuncture Helped Ease Symptoms For Over Half Of The Participants Of The Study

Over 420 women participated in the study and used acupressure as a form of pain management therapy. Every week, the women checked in with the conductors of the study. They answered questions such as fatigue, pain, and other symptoms they felt over the past week. Each week, over half of the women reported fewer symptoms. About half of the women said less than three traits. In contrast, a little under half of the women experienced one or two symptoms.

According to medical professionals, it is unusual for women with breast cancer to not show the regular symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, depression, poor sleep, and pain. When it came to showing all of the symptoms, about 17% of women stated that acupressure did not ease any of their symptoms.

You will have a choice to pick between three acupuncture methods during treatment. Pixabay.

There Are Three Main Methods Of Acupuncture Therapy

When you are about to get acupuncture therapy, there are three methods that you should understand, so you know which one is best for you. Of course, your acupuncturist should discuss these methods with you and help you know which one you should use. The first method is known as electrical stimulation. This is when the needles receive electrical impulses of different wave forms and frequencies through a handheld device.

The second method is manual stimulation, which is the most common method as the professional will twist the needles themselves. The third method is when the acupuncturist applies heat with the needles through a dried herb that is burned on top of the needles. Another way to apply pressure is to use infrared technology to heat the needles before they are placed on your body.

Always talk to your primary care physician before you take acupuncture therapy to make sure you don’t have a condition that can worsen with treatment. Pixabay.

When Should You Not Consider Acupuncture Therapy?

There are conditions that you need to make sure you don’t have before you decide to use acupuncture therapy. While you can use acupressure therapy with some of these conditions, it is best that you talk to your regular doctor along with an acupuncturist to ensure the procedure is safe for you. If you have a bleeding disorder or have a problem with your blood clotting, you should not consider acupuncture because it is easy to bleed from the needles.

People who have a low white blood cell count should not use this type of therapy as it can easily give them an infection. Anyone who had lymphedema, removal of lymph nodes, should not use this type of treatment because there is a higher chance for an infection.

Stainless steel wasn’t always the go-to choice to make needles. Pixabay.

The First Needles For Acupuncture Therapy Were Made Of Stone

When the Chinese first developed acupuncture therapy, they didn’t use stainless steel to make the needles. Instead, they used stone, bone, or bamboo to make the needles. Part of this was because they didn’t have the technology to turn stainless steel into needles.

Another part of this is because nearly 3,000 years ago, most objects were made out of bone, stone, or bamboo. Needless to say, needles today look incredibly different from thousands of years ago. In fact, the needles you see at the doctor’s office are about the thickness of two human hairs and disposable.

The acupuncturist should conduct a short physical examination before performing acupuncture. Pixabay.

Before Any Acupuncturist Performs The Therapy On You, The Need To Know About Your Health

If you are thinking about getting acupuncture therapy, the first step you want to take is to contact your primary doctor. They will talk to you a bit about the treatment and perform a physical examination so you can be sure that you don’t have anything that might cause a problem.

On top of this, your acupuncturist should make sure that you are healthy by reading any physical examination results and performing their own short physical examination. They won’t be as thorough as your primary care physician. However, they will look at your tongue and feel your pulse to make sure that you are healthy enough or get an idea of your health condition.

Your acupoints for a cold are different from your points for another illness. Pixabay.

Acupuncture And Acupressure Therapy Are Different For Everyone

While the results might be similar between people who receive acupressure or acupuncture therapy, the acupoints on your body are different. For instance, if there are 25 people in a room ready to receive acupuncture therapy, all 25 people can have different acupoints on their bodies.

Therefore, you should not perform a Google search to look for the best acupoints on you because there is really no way to tell without talking to a professional. Your points will also depend on what type of treatment you are looking for. For instance, the points for a cold are different than if you are trying to ease pain from cancer.

Pain is not the only symptom that acupressure and acupuncture will ease. Pixabay. .

Acupuncture And Acupressure Can Ease Over 200 Symptoms and Diseases

Pain is not the only symptom that acupuncture or acupressure ease. In fact, according to professionals and studies, there are around 200 symptoms and diseases that are eased by the therapies. The World Health Organization states in a report titled Acupuncture: Review of Reports on Controlled Clinical Trials. In this report, it is noted that these therapies help people who suffer from headaches, allergic rhinitis, depression, low back pain, side effects of chemotherapy, and induction of labor.

Of course, there are dozens more. There are so many that the US National Institutes of Health states that they are proposing acupuncture as a therapeutic intervention for medicine.

The United States started to note the benefits of acupuncture therapy in 1972 because Nixon took a trip to China. Pixabay.

You Can Thank President Nixon and a Reporter for People Becoming More Interested In Acupuncture and Acupressure Across the United States

In 1972, United States President Nixon traveled to China with a reporter who started to have post-surgery pain. The pain became so intense that the Nixon administration needed to bring him to doctors in China to see if there was any way they could decrease his discomfort. Chinese knew that the best option was acupuncture, which they performed on the reporter.

When the reporter returned to the United States, he wrote about his encounter with acupuncture therapy. He told anyone who was having post-surgery pain from an appendectomy to try acupuncture as it helped him better than any medications.

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