Aim Of This Study T his study was conducted to assess the effects of acupuncture and acupressure in managing cancer-related fatigue. Its purpose was also to determine whether a larger trial using these therapies would be feasible. Method The 47 predominantly female participants in this study were randomised into three groups. Fifteen participants formed an acupuncture group, 16 formed an acupressure group and another 16 formed a sham acupressure group. The participants were a mean age of 54 years. Selection criteria for participants required that they had all completed chemotherapy treatments at least one month before the study began, and had no more scheduled cancer treatments during the study period. All participants had a minimum three-month life expectancy and, when screened for fatigue, scored five or more on a 0 to 10 scale. The acupuncture group received three 20 minute treatments per week for two weeks. During these treatments, all participants were needled at the same three bilateral points—L14, SP6 and ST36. The acupuncture points were chosen because they are traditionally used to improve energy levels. Conversation during the treatments was kept to a minimum. Participants in the acupressure group were taught tonifying techniques for their self-treatments. They learned to apply pressure onto the same three points that were used for needling in the acupuncture group. Pressure on each point was held for one minute every day for two weeks. The sham acupressure group were taught to apply pressure at three points (LI 12, GB33 and BL61) that are not related to energy. They held pressure on these points for one minute each day for two weeks. Measurements Before randomisation, all participants completed the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI). This 20 item inventory measures general fatigue, physical fatigue, reduced activity, reduced motivation and mental fatigue. Scores for each category are measured on a 20 point scale with higher scores indicating greater levels of fatigue. Participants completed the MFI again after the last treatment and about two weeks after intervention. In addition, participants in the acupressure group and the sham acupressure group were required to fill in a daily log to report whether or not they had put pressure onto the points as directed. Results There were significant improvements in fatigue scores in both the acupuncture and acupressure groups for general fatigue, physical fatigue, reduced activity and motivation. General fatigue improved the most, followed by motivation and reduced activity. The acupuncture group showed significantly more improvement than the acupressure group, and the sham acupressure group showed no significant improvements. The MFI measurement taken after the final treatment showed a 36% improvement in overall fatigue for the acupuncture group and 19% improvement for the acupressure group. These improvements were sustained at lower levels at the two week follow-up with 22% for the acupuncture group and 15% for the acupressure group. Conclusion The researchers concluded that the results: support the use of acupuncture (and to a lesser extent acupressure) in the management of fatigue in patients with cancer after chemotherapy. They also determined that a large, multicentre randomised trial would be justified. Limitations Of This Study The researchers suggested that a future study with more treatments over an extended period would ascertain whether improvements could be sustained for longer. A test that assessed physical, emotional, social and cognitive function would have complemented the MFI inventory and given a more rounded overview of treatment effects. •

2016-07-02T11:11:54+00:00 March 3rd, 2016|acupuncture, Cancer|0 Comments

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