At-Home Acupressure Relieves Anxiety, Pain for Breast Cancer Survivors

Breast cancer survivors may find symptom relief through at-home acupressure, according to study findings.
BY Katie Kosko
PUBLISHED May 09, 2019
Breast cancer survivors may find symptom relief through at-home acupressure, according to study findings published in JNCI Cancer Spectrum.

Researchers from the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center in Ann Arbor examined 288 women, all breast cancer survivors, who reported symptoms in addition to fatigue. They were asked weekly about anxiety, depression, fatigue, pain and sleep quality.

The participants were assigned to either acupressure or usual care, which included sleep-management strategies. Those in the acupressure group were taught how to find and stimulate the relevant point and performed the technique once a day at home for six weeks.

Acupressure, a type of complementary therapy, involves applying pressure with fingers, thumbs or a device to specific points on the body. The study used two types of acupressure: relaxing and stimulating acupressure, which involve different points.

Both techniques were more effective than usual care for reducing anxiety, severity of pain and pain that interfered with daily life. However, relaxing acupressure was better than the stimulating type and usual care for improving depressive symptoms and sleep, the researchers said. Easing depressive symptoms also led to higher-quality sleep, which accounted for about 20 percent of the improvement in fatigue.

The researchers noted that the advantages of acupressure include the ability to perform it at home with minimal side effects, although some women reported minor bruising at the acupressure sites.
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