In September 2012 researchers at the Maryland School of Medicine concluded that “Acupuncture is a viable treatment option for multiple myeloma patients”. It is a well known fact that acupuncture can help with many pain conditions and has in fact been shown to be a cost effective therapy in treating low back pain as it reduces the number of visits required to see a doctor and as a result reduces the costs associated with expensive medications and scans.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer that starts in the plasma cells of bone marrow and causes the plasma cells to grow out of control and form tumors in the areas of solid bone. This can then cause anemia and as the cells multiply in the bone marrow there is pain especially in the back and ribs. Pressure on the spinal nerves also leads to numbness and weakness of the legs and arms.
Other symptoms of multiple myeloma that acupuncture may assist with include
Fatigue and tiredness
A medication called Bortezomib is used to treat multiple myeloma and has the side effects of peripheral neuropathy, numbness of the extremities. The Maryland researchers demonstrated that acupuncture can reduce the numbness side effects caused by the medication. The frequency of the acupuncture was up to 2 sessions per week and improvement was noticed on the first treatment and pain relief was long lasting.
Furthermore, no adverse side effects were observed from the acupuncture. The drug Bortezomib has been under scrutiny in the past where its over inflated cost was criticised by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence in the United Kingdom.
The researchers used a standardised acupuncture point protocol so that results could be more easily monitored. In reality, though, results would be improved if the acupuncture points selected could be individualised to suit the patient’s constitution and imbalances according to traditional Chinese medical diagnostic criteria.