Acupuncture Reduces AI-Associated Joint Pain in Women with Breast Cancer

Kristie L. Kahl
Published: Thursday, Dec 07, 2017

“We have shown consistently, with multiple measures assessing pain and stiffness, that true acupuncture generated better outcomes than either control group in a large multicenter randomized controlled trial,” Hershman said. “And transitioning from twice-a-week to once-a-week acupuncture maintained the effect of the intervention.”

Grade 1 bruising appeared to be the only significant adverse event reported among true (47%) and sham acupuncture patients (25%; P = .01).

“Acupuncture provides a nonpharmacologic option that can improve symptoms and possibly increase AI adherence as well as subsequent breast cancer outcomes,” Hershman said. “For patients who are reluctant to take a prescription medication that can result in other side effects, acupuncture provides a safe and effective alternative. Identification of nonopioid options for pain control is a public health priority.”

Hershman also noted the added benefits derived from the cost of the 12-week, 18-session intervention, which amounted to approximately $1250 ($65-$75 per session).

“We feel there is now sufficient evidence to support insurance coverage of acupuncture for AI arthralgia, “she said.
Hershman DL, Unger JM, Greenlee H, et al. Randomized blinded sham- and waitlist-controlled trial of acupuncture for joint symptoms related to aromatase inhibitors in women with early stage breast cancer (S1200). Presented at: 2017 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium; Dec. 5-9, 2017; San Antonio, TX. Abstract GS4-04.

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