Massage and Acupuncture Reduce Pain after Cancer Surgery

By Kristen Bole, UCSF News Services | March 30, 2007

Massage and acupuncture are effective in decreasing pain and depression following surgery in cancer patients, according to a UCSF study.

The findings of the randomized controlled clinical trial are reported in the March 2007 issue of the "Journal of Pain and Symptom Management."

"This pilot study confirmed that pain after surgery decreased when patients underwent a combination of massage and acupuncture. This is a significant finding because there are implications for further study to see if these therapies should be offered to hospitalized patients for symptom management," said Wolf Mehling, MD, lead author and UCSF assistant professor of family and community medicine.

The study compared the post-operative symptoms of pain, nausea and mood and the cost of symptom-related medications in two groups of hospitalized patients during the first three days after cancer-related surgery. One group underwent a combination of massage and acupuncture in addition to usual care, and one group had usual care alone. Usual care is defined as traditional treatment through medication.

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