Acupuncture & Cancer Pain

Treating pain can be difficult, regardless of its origin, but treating cancer pain can be particularly tricky because it often has multiple causes.

According to Paley, et. al.: “Moderate to severe pain is experienced by 40% of individuals with early or intermediate stage cancer and 90% of individuals with advanced cancer. Up to 70% of all patients with cancer pain do not receive adequate pain relief, diminishing their quality of life in terms of both physical and psychological well-being.”

Tumors can compress structures, nerves can become irritated, inflammation multiplies, bones and organs can be taxed in their response to tumors or therapies – each pain is complex and often will often be prescribed a new therapy or drug in response. 

But, acupuncture provides an accessible and safe alternative to pain management without the need of added pharmaceuticals.

In a recent position paper published by the research group Evidence Based Acupuncture, a literature review showed that many studies found a moderate effect size of acupuncture on cancer-related pain, and concluded that: “…acupuncture is effective in relieving cancer related pain, particularly malignancy-related and surgery induced pain.”

Here at Maryville Acupuncture, our practitioners utilize their years of experience treating pain of all sorts.

Each visit, your acupuncturist will assess the quality, intensity, duration and frequency of your pain, as well as your current treatment regimens with your oncologist and other physicians.

We strive to be another source of excellent care as part of your integrated healthcare team.

Resources:

“Acupuncture as a Therapeutic Treatment for Cancer Pain.” Evidence Based Acupuncture, www.evidencebasedacupuncture.org/acupuncture-cancer-pain/.

Paley, C.A., Johnson, M.I., Tashani, O.A. and Bagnall, A.M., 2011. Acupuncture for cancer pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev1(10).

Acupuncture Needles

Acupuncture Needles
Acupuncture Needles

What are acupuncture needles?

Acupuncture needles have been used for many centuries. While the majority of acupuncture started with less modern materials, such as bones, sticks and bamboo.  

Acupuncture needles have advanced with new technology. Modern needles are fine, filiform (no hole down the middle of the shaft) needles made from surgical steel and come in sterile packs.

They range in thickness from 30 to 40 gauge, which is about the diameter of a hair (in contrast, the needle that a phlebotomist uses to draw your blood is between 18 and 22 guage, which is much much thicker).

 Acupuncture needles range in length from about 0.5 inches to 4-5 inches, but most often in the clinic we use 0.5-1.5 inches. 

Do acupuncture needles hurt?

Acupuncture is generally considered to be painless by most of our patients. We understand that sensitivity can be different for everyone. The majority of people would say no and that they can’t even feel them. Though, there are many different sensations associated with acupuncture. Some people can feel the “Qi” some don’t and that’s okay.

We’ll link to our article about Qi here

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What do you do with your needles?

At Maryville Acupuncture, all of our needles are single use, sterile and disposed of in a sharps container. We never reuse needles. 

These needles are left in place for 20-25 minutes while you rest comfortably.

What else should I expect during a treatment?

There are additional modalities such as cupping, electro-stimulation, lifestyle changes (diet, exercise, stress management) and traditional Chinese medicinal practices that are occasionally incorporated into your treatment to give you the best benefit.

What Happens During a New Patient Acupuncture Appointment?

I’ve heard that acupuncture can help me, but what happens during an acupuncture treatment?

When you come to our office for your first visit, you’ll be greeted warmly by one of our staff. You may have some new patient paperwork to complete – we keep all digital records – and will send you an email with a link to the paperwork or if you prefer to fill out the paperwork in office we’ll hand your our office tablet to work with.

Once your paperwork is complete, your acupuncturist will escort you back to the treatment room. She’ll begin by talking to you about the reasons you’re seeking acupuncture, as well as your relevant health history. She’ll also make sure to answer any questions you have regarding acupuncture and how it can help. Once your questions have been answered, she’ll leave the room and allow you to undress – most people choose to undress as if they were to have a massage, clothes off, underwear on – and get comfortable under the sheet on the table. If you have any questions please take the time to ask, we want you to feel comfortable.

When your acupuncturist returns, she will assess you – feel your pulse, palpate your channels, gauge your muscle tension, and other assessments to complete her diagnosis. She’ll then insert very thin, fine acupuncture needles at specific points in your body to support your symptoms. Once she’s completed the first set, your acupuncturist will leave the room so you can rest for 10-15 minutes. She’ll return, do another assessment, maybe add or take away some needles, and then let you rest for 10-15 minutes more. 

After your treatment, your acupuncturist will return to remove the needles. She’ll leave the room so you can take your time getting up and getting dressed. Once you’re ready, you’ll open the door and your acupuncturist will join you to talk about her evaluation and treatment plan, the changes you can expect and when to return. 

We usually book 1.5 hours for new patient visits and 1 hour for follow up visits. We can absolutely help you schedule your next appointment before you leave our office or you are welcome to utilize our online scheduler

Here at Maryville Acupuncture, it’s important to us that you feel comfortable and informed about your treatment, so we want to make sure all your questions are answered. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us by phone or email if we can help at all!

How Does Acupuncture Work For Pain?

We hear a lot about how acupuncture can be helpful in treating all types of pain – back pain, knee pain, headaches, menstrual cramps – but how does it work?

Acupuncturists use many tools, but the most common are acupuncture needles. Acupuncture needles are small, thin hair-like sterile single use needles inserted into specific areas on the body.

Acupuncture points are believed to stimulate the central nervous system. This, in turn, releases chemicals into the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These biochemical changes may stimulate the body’s natural healing abilities and promote physical and emotional well-being.

Whether we’re treating the acute pain of a sprained ankle or the chronic pain of a bulging disc, we know that acupuncture treats pain in three ways:

1. Neurologic Disruption

Your body processes the stimulation from acupuncture using the same part of the nervous system that transmits pain. By sending different signals – such as the message your body receives from the insertion of an acupuncture needle – your acupuncturist can “disrupt” the pain messages transmitted from body to brain and help decrease your sensation of pain

2. Local Tissue Relaxation

When a part of your body is in pain, the muscles surrounding the painful area often tense to protect and compensate. This can cause additional soreness and decrease the body’s ability to move and heal naturally. These same muscles and tissues will respond to acupuncture stimulation by relaxing, causing decreased pain and easier movement.

3. Decreasing Inflammation

Injury to any tissue causes an increase in inflammation, which in turn, causes increased pain, and can cause swelling and reduced range of motion. Acupuncture activates your innate immunity, which will work to decrease inflammation throughout your body and decrease local and systemic pain.

Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) have found acupuncture to be effective for over thirty conditions and the list is continuing to grow.

If you have any questions, please call our office, email, or visit our website.

Maryville Acupuncture Opening June 21st!

Maryville Acupuncture will be accepting new patients Friday June 21, 2019. We are Maryville’s only acupuncture clinic and we look forward to serving this community. Our clinic will be a general care clinic and will treat symptoms such as pain, arthritis, headaches, digestive issues, and other internal conditions.

Maryville Acupuncture was founded in 2019 by Sarah Prater. As a Maryville resident, she was aware of the lack of integrative medicine options in Maryville, Townsend, Alcoa and the surrounding communities and felt called to open a practice in her home. Sarah says: “I am very excited to be bringing acupuncture to the Maryville community. With the recent opioid epidemic, many patients and doctors are looking for other options to treat pain. We offer a safe and effective treatment for pain and many other conditions.”

Maryville Acupuncture will be headed by licensed acupuncturist, Kate Sisson. Kate is an acupuncturist and soon-to-be registered nurse in the state of Tennessee. Since beginning practice in 2014, Kate uses her both her education and life experience – as a personal trainer, bellydancer, aerialist – to support her patients. She specializes in pain management, injury and surgery rehabilitation, anxiety and depression, women’s health and cosmetic enhancement.

We strive to work integratively for our patients, support the achievement of their health goals, and ensure they have access to the best possible care by working closely with your team of doctors.

We are excited to bring acupuncture treatment to our neighbors and look forward to being a part of your health care team!