“Chronic pain and shoulder mobility problems are common after such surgery, adversely affecting quality of life as well as employability for certain occupations,” said Dr. David Pfister who is the Chief of Head and Neck Oncology Services at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. “Unfortunately, available conventional methods of treatment for pain and dysfunction following neck surgery often have limited benefits, leaving much room for improvement.” A total of 70 patients were involved in this study. Participants were randomly chosen to receive Acupuncture treatment or more traditional forms of follow-up including physical therapy exercises and the use of anti-inflammatory drugs. Treatment on all of the persons commenced at least three months after their surgery and the completion of radiation treatments. The Acupuncture group received four sessions of treatment over a four week period. What the researchers found was that 39 percent of the patients who received Acupuncture improved in both mobility and pain reduction compared to only 7 percent of the group who received the usual medical care. An additional benefit that has been reported in similar studies is that the condition of dry mouth has also improved in a large number of the participants. Dr. Barrie Cassileth, Ph.D., is the Chief of Integrative Medicine Service at the Cancer Center and had this to say about the results: “Like any other treatment, Acupuncture does not work for everyone, but it can be extraordinarily helpful for many. It does not treat illness, but Acupuncture can control a number of distressing symptoms such as shortness of breath, anxiety and depression, chronic fatigue, pain, neuropathy and osteoarthritis.” The full benefits of Acupuncture are yet to be explored and realized by the medical community, but it is very encouraging to see that drug-free means of healing are being integrated into Western treatment.
Source: The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “Acupuncture Reduces Pain and Dysfunction in Head and Neck Caner Patients after Neck Dissection.” May 2008. http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/85411.cfm