Feasibility Trial of Electro-acupuncture for Aromatase Inhibitor Related Arthralgia in Breast Cancer Survivors
Arthralgia affects postmenopausal women receiving aromatase inhibitors (AIs) for breast cancer. Given the existing evidence for electroacupuncture (EA) for treatment of osteoarthritis in the general population, this study aims to establish the feasibility of studying EA for treating AI-related arthralgia.
PATIENTS AND METHODS:
Postmenopausal women with stage I-III breast cancer who reported AI-related arthralgia were enrolled in a single-arm feasibility trial. EA was provided twice a week for 2 weeks followed by 6 weekly treatments. The protocol was based on Chinese medicine diagnosis of "Bi" syndrome with electrostimulation of needles around the painful joint(s). Pain severity of the modified Brief Pain Inventory was used as the primary outcome. Joint stiffness, joint interference, and Patient Global Impression of Change (PGIC) were secondary outcomes. Paired t tests were used for analysis.
Twelve women were enrolled and all provided data for analysis. From baseline to the end of intervention, patients reported reduction in pain severity (from 5.3 to 1.9), stiffness (from 6.9 to 2.4), and joint symptom interference (from 4.7 to 0.8), all P < .001; 11/12 considered joint symptoms "very much better" based on the PGIC. Subjects also reported significant decrease in fatigue (from 4.4 to 1.9, P = .005) and anxiety (from 7.1 to 4.8, P = .01). No infection or development or worsening of lymphedema was observed.
Preliminary data establish the feasibility of recruitment and acceptance as well as promising preliminary safety and effectiveness. A randomized controlled trial is warranted to establish the efficacy of EA for AI-related arthralgia in breast cancer survivors.
Mao, J. J.,
Stricker, C. T.,
Farrar, J. T.,
Xie, S. X.,
Bowman, M. A.,
& DeMichele, A.
(2009). Feasibility Trial of Electro-acupuncture for Aromatase Inhibitor Related Arthralgia in Breast Cancer Survivors. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 8 (2), 123-129.