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Is Acupuncture Right For You?

woman sleeping during acupuncture treatment

As a cancer patient, it is important to understand the various treatment options available for you. At Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center, we offer integrative medicine and wellness services to supplement traditional cancer treatments.

According to recent studies produced by the National Cancer Foundation, acupuncture has proven to be effective in helping to alleviate some of the most common symptoms shared by cancer patients including chronic fatigue, pain, and anxiety.

But how do you know if acupuncture is right for you? Here are signs that you could benefit from acupuncture – plus what to expect during your acupuncture treatments.

You’re tired of being in constant pain

Acupuncture can help you to better manage the pain caused by your cancer or treatment side effects.

Our licensed NCCAOM medical acupuncturist, Matthew Skahill, uses a special treatment known as Ling Gu Da Bai. This acupuncture treatment involves using a 2 point combination on the hand, plus a third point known as Large Intestine.

The points are located on the dorsal aspect of the hand, near the thumb and index fingers. During the time of the procedure patients will only feel a slight amount of pressure, similar to that felt during a massage. After patients are used to the initial pressure or pinch, they are able to relax and often end up falling asleep during the relaxing procedure.

The procedure works especially well for treating back pain, headaches and migraines, joint pain, and issues with the liver and intestines. In regards to cancer, a study conducted at Penn Medicine has shown that it has been extremely effective in relieving joint pain for those suffering from breast cancer.

You constantly feel nauseated and/or you’re tired of vomiting

Nausea and vomiting are common side effects experienced by cancer patients, frequently caused by their treatments and medications. Fortunately, acupuncture can help cancer patients to find relief.

Matt’s preferred acupuncture method for treating nausea and vomiting is by selecting an acu-point named Pericardium 6 (P6) also known as Neiguan (Chinese name). P6 is an empirical point used for centuries to interrupt the gag reflex. It is located on the inside of the wrist. Due to its unique location, patients may experience a shock-like sensation that typically goes away after the initial zap.

You’re constantly worrying about your diagnosis

It’s perfectly normal to feel concerned or even anxious about your cancer diagnosis. Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center assists patients and families by providing counseling, coping techniques and interventions that help patients regain a sense of well-being. As a supplement to our counseling and supportive services, acupuncture can also help as a form of relief for patients experiencing anxiety.

Matt's most common acupuncture treatment for anxiety is known as Yintang and involves placing a single point located between the eyebrows, just below the area known as the third eye to help patients calm their minds and relax. This treatment can also be effective for patients suffering from insomnia caused from over-thinking.

In addition to these three symptoms, acupuncture has also proven to be effective in treating depression, hot flashes, xerostomia (dry mouth), and many other symptoms. With more than 300 acupuncture treatments available, Matt will work with you to determine the best one for treating all of your current ailments. As you begin to undergo your acupuncture treatments, Matt will assess your progress and adjust your treatment(s) accordingly.

To schedule an appointment with Matt Skahill, call the Patient and Family Services at 215-615-0534

About This Blog

The Focus on Cancer blog discusses a variety of cancer-related topics, including treatment advances, research efforts and clinical trials, nutrition, support groups, survivorship and patient stories.

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