A randomized trial found that
acupuncture reduced pain and dysfunction as well as
xerostomia compared with standard care among cancer patients who had undergone
Complaints of neck or shoulder pain and dysfunction are common in
30% to 70% of patients after classical radical neck dissection,
researchers wrote, adding that even less extensive neck procedures can have
significant pain and dysfunction results. Although physical therapy
exercises and antiinflammatory drugs are widely prescribed to address the pain
and shoulder dysfunction after neck dissection, their efficacy is often
disappointing or incomplete.
In this study, 28 patients were randomly assigned to receive acupuncture
and 30 were assigned to receive standard care consisting of physical therapy
and various medications. Patients who received acupuncture scored 11.2 points
higher on the Constant-Murley scale of pain, function and activities of daily
living, where higher scores indicate better outcomes (P=.008). A measure
of xerostomia also indicated more benefit from acupuncture
The investigators adjusted the Constant-Murley score to emphasize the
parts of the scale that are more objective, because of the non-randomized
nature of the study. The adjusted model resulted in a similar benefit to
acupuncture (10.2 points difference, P=.037).
Although further study is needed, these data support the
potential role of acupuncture in addressing post-neck dissection pain and
dysfunction, as well as xerostomia, the researchers wrote.
Pfister DG. J Clin Oncol.
More In the Journals summaries>>