Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Auricular Acupuncture To Reduce Cancer Related Pain

A quick story about ear acupuncture: Just yesterday, I was treating an 84 year old woman one year post-stroke. She was depressed over her circumstance and in acute back pain from a fall. She also had a a left-side tremor. She could not get up on the table so I did auricular acupuncture on her in a chair. During the treatment the tremor had stopped, her back pain was improved and her gait was more spry and so was her mood. Not bad. It is no surprise that auricular acupuncture should be good for cancer related neuropathic pain and this study demonstrates it.

Analgesic Effect of Auricular Acupuncture for Cancer Pain: A Randomized, Blinded, Controlled Trial
"Our study shows that auricular acupuncture at points where an electrodermal signal is detected is associated with a significant reduction in pain intensity in patients with neuropathic pain. It also shows that the reduction in pain is associated with a decline in the average electrical signal detected at ear points. The observed reduction of 20 mm on the VAS is of clear benefit for these cancer patients who, despite stable analgesics, continue to be in pain, especially considering the low cost, low inconvenience, and low risk of auricular acupuncture."
Read the Full Text article.

To someone who has never had ear acupuncture it is usually met with fascination, skepticism and a little (unfounded) fear of needles. "What is the connection", they want to know, "between the ear and the rest of the body?"

Ear acupuncture is not part of the ancient tradition of Traditional Oriental Medicine (TCM). Actually it was developed in France in the 1950's. For an interesting history and mechanism of action click here.