Acupunture Studies for Pain Relief of Chronic Angina Interview with:
Fanrong Liang MD
and Ling Zhao PhD


Acupuncture and Tuina School
Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Chengdu, Sichuan, China  What is the background for this study?

Response: Chronic stable angina (CSA) is the cardinal symptom of myocardial ischemia and is associated with an increased risk of major cardiovascular events and sudden cardiac death. CSA affects with an average of 3.4 million people over 40 years of age each year. The most recent survey reported a CSA prevalence of 9.6% in China, making it a considerable burden on healthcare and medical costs, considering China’s large population base. Because of limited medical resources and lack of obvious improvement with percutaneous coronary intervention, Chinese clinicians choose traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture in addition to antianginal treatment for CSA. In China, acupuncture has been used as nonpharmacological treatment for several decades, especially to relieve myocardial ischemia symptoms, improve cardiac function, and prevent recurrence.  

Acupuncture Provided Pain Relief From Cancer and Related Symptoms Interview with:
Jai N. Patel, PharmD, BCOP
Chief, Pharmacology Research
Associate Professor, Division of Hematology/Oncology
Department of Cancer Pharmacology
Levine Cancer Institute
Charlotte, NC 28204 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Pain is one of the most prevalent and burdensome symptoms affecting patients with cancer. Cancer-related pain is most commonly treated with opioid analgesics; however, nearly two-thirds of patients have inadequate pain relief and/or experience opioid-related side effects.

Furthermore, the fear of opioid abuse/addiction and toxicity deters some from prescribing opioids and reduces patient compliance. Thus, nonpharmacologic interventions such as acupuncture may be safer approaches to cancer-related pain.  Randomized controlled trials suggest acupuncture reduces chronic neuropathic and postoperative pain in patients with cancer. It is unknown whether any patient characteristics predict post-acupuncture pain response.

We assessed acupuncture’s effectiveness for cancer-related pain, identified patient characteristics associated with pain response, and determined its effect on other concurrent cancer-related symptoms in palliative medicine outpatients. We identified significant benefits in pain scores immediately after the first treatment and across multiple treatments. Significant pain reduction was associated with higher baseline pain and more advanced disease stage.

We also identified significant changes in anxiety, depression, drowsiness, dyspnea, fatigue, nausea and well-being. Improvements in fatigue and depression also correlated with significant pain reduction after acupuncture.  Continue reading