Acupuncture, acupressure reduce cancer pain, opioid use

  • He Y & al.
  • JAMA Oncol
  • 19 Dec 2019

  • International Clinical Digest
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Takeaway

  • Patients with cancer who received acupuncture and/or acupressure, either alone or in combination with analgesics, reported significant decreases in pain intensity and used fewer analgesics and opioids, according to a new meta-analysis.

Why this matters

  • Prior research on the effectiveness of acupuncture and acupressure in reducing cancer-related pain have yielded conflicting results, and other systematic reviews have failed to include recent randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

Study design

  • This systematic review (17 RCTs; n=1111) and meta-analysis (14 RCTs; n=920) studied the use of acupuncture and acupressure in the management of cancer pain.
  • Funding: National Cancer Institute.

Key results

  • Real vs sham acupuncture was associated with reduced pain intensity:
    • Mean difference [MD], −1.38 points (95% CI, −2.13 to −0.64 points; I2, 81%; 7 trials, n=398).
  • A favorable association was noted when acupuncture and acupressure were combined with analgesics:
    • MD, −1.44 points (95% CI, −1.98 to −0.89; I2, 92%; 6 trials, n=390).
  • Acupuncture+analgesics showed reduced morphine equivalent daily dose:
    • MD, −30.00 mg morphine equivalent daily dose (95% CI, −37.5 to −22.5 mg; 2 trials).

Limitations

  • The evidence grade was moderate because of the substantial heterogeneity among the studies.

Coauthored with Chitra Ravi, MPharm