It hardly seems possible. But we’re less than two months away from 2022.
I always enjoy the symbolism of New Year’s Eve. It’s an opportunity to start fresh. You know, out with the old, and in with the new.
You get to shed all the old junk from the past year that weighed you down and embrace new things. And I imagine if 2021 included a battle with cancer, you’re more than ready to leave it all behind and get to the good stuff.
But if you’re like many cancer survivors who are fighting chronic pain, claiming a fresh start can be tough to do.
Cancer survivors often experience pain that can last for years after winning the battle with cancer, and that can make moving on feel impossible.
But research has revealed that a drug-free, pain-relieving therapy that embraces both the old and the new at once could help you finally leave the pain behind.
This new spin on an old treatment can work wonders for all kinds of pain. And a recent study finds, in many cases, it can even help defeat the frustrating chronic pain that can follow cancer treatment.
Targeted pain relief with modernized acupuncture
Half of all cancer survivors struggle with pain. For many, it isn’t like anything they’ve ever felt before. And they don’t get much relief from the usual sources, either.
Some survivors are so desperate they turn to prescription pain pills for a bit of relief. And that, of course, can lead to a whole new set of problems.
But that’s where the study comes in. It reveals that the ancient “energy therapy” called acupuncture can deliver much-needed relief to cancer survivors. Plus, researchers say it can also reduce the need for heavy-duty painkillers.
The study tested usual care, including painkillers and physical therapy, against two far more modern forms of acupuncture than the traditional version most people are familiar with:
Auricular acupuncture: Developed by the U.S. military, auricular acupuncture utilizes the ancient needling practice but focuses only on the ear.
Electroacupuncture: Electroacupuncture uses the same acupuncture points on the body that traditional acupuncture does. But there’s a twist. The therapist connects the needles to a power source producing an extremely mild electrical charge.
And spoiler alert, both forms provided significant pain relief.
Pins provided up to 5 TIMES the pain relief
At the start of the study, the volunteers reported moderate to major pain in their back, hip, or knees. Most of their pain scores rated somewhere between 5 to 5.6 points on a 10-point scale.
Usual care was borderline useless. After three months, pain levels had dropped by an average of less than half a point.
Ear acupuncture, on the other hand, provided FOUR TIMES more relief. Pain levels dropped by an average of 2 points.
But electroacupuncture was the real stand-out. The lucky folks who got the electrified needles experienced nearly FIVE TIMES the relief. It delivered an average improvement of 2.39 points on that same 10-point scale.
Some people reported minor bruising from the needles. About 10 percent quit because of it, and almost all of the dropouts were in the ear group. But for the most part, both forms of acupuncture were safe, well-tolerated, and effective.
Pain relief isn’t the only benefit this ancient energy technique delivers either.
Acupuncture has also shown incredible promise for easing some of the most debilitating side effects of both the cancer treatment and the disease itself. That includes two of the most common complaints, fatigue, and cognitive problems.
Fight cancer recovery side effects
There is one downside to acupuncture. But it has nothing to do with the treatment itself. It’s that the procedure is often not covered by insurance.
In other words, you’ll likely have to pay out-of-pocket for it. The exception is lower back pain which IS typically approved. So depending on what kind of pain issue you’re battling, there’s a chance you’ll have coverage.
Also, some acupuncturists use a sliding scale to accommodate patients of all incomes, and others will work on easy payment plans with you. So don’t hesitate to get in touch with a practitioner and ask.
Acupuncture needles aren’t painful. But if you simply can’t get over a fear of needles, research shows acupressure can be effective for many post-cancer side effects too.
Plus, you can speak to a naturopathic or integrative physician about other non-drug options for symptom relief. Those could include supplements for fatigue and brain fog, as well as natural pain relievers.