Massage and Acupuncture effectively decrease pain and depression following surgery in cancer patients, according to a recent study at the University of California, San Francisco.
The randomized controlled clinical trial, reported in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, compared the post-operative symptoms of pain, nausea and depression and the cost of symptom-related medications in two groups of hospitalized patients during the first three days after cancer-related surgery.
One group received a massage and Acupuncture in addition to the usual post-operative medications, while a second group had just medication. There was a significant decrease in both pain and depressive mood among patients receiving massage and Acupuncture therapy.
During the three-day post-operative period, patients used an 11-point (0-10) numeric rating scale to rank the severity of current pain and of pain during the previous 24 hours. Acupuncture/massage patients scored a 1.1 point improvement in pain level on the first post-operative day, while the medication group only scored a 0.1 improvement. Over the three days of the study, the Acupuncture/massage patients reported a pain improvement of 1.8, compared to only 0.3 in the control group.
“This is a significant finding,” said Dr. Wolf Mehling, lead author and UCSF assistant professor of family and community medicine. “We know that integration of these therapies has shown short-term benefit on psychological well-being, but there has not been strong evidence to support it until now.”
As for the cost comparison, the study showed a reduction in anti-anxiety and sleep medication costs.
“This preliminary data suggests looking at this further, with a larger control group and an ability to better assess individual medication usage,” Dr. Mehling said.