Preliminary Effectiveness of Auricular Point Acupressure on Chemotherapy-Induced Neuropathy: Part 1 Self-Reported Outcomes

Chao Hsing Yeh, Nada Lukkahatai, Claudia Campbell, Haris Sair, Fengzhi Zhang, Sylvanus Mensah, Courtney Garry, Jing Zeng, Changying Chen, Mariela Pinedo, Mohammad Khoshnoodi, Thomas J Smith, Leorey N Saligan
Pain Management Nursing: Official Journal of the American Society of Pain Management Nurses 2019 May 30

PURPOSE: To reduce chemotherapy-induced neuropathy (CIN)-a significant challenge among cancer patients following chemotherapy-we explored the effects of auricular point acupressure (APA), which involves needleless, acupuncture-like stimulation on specific ear points.

DESIGN/METHOD: This pilot study examined the effects of a 4-week APA intervention in the management of CIN. Descriptive analysis was used to examine the changes in study outcomes.

RESULTS: Fifteen participants were enrolled. Two participants dropped out because they developed new medical conditions. Thirteen participants completed the study (87% retention rate). Study participants had more severe symptoms in their lower extremities (i.e., toes, feet, soles) than in their upper extremities (i.e., fingers, wrists, elbows). After the 4-week APA intervention, the mean percentage change scores ranged from 38% (tingling) to 49% (numbness); compared to pre-intervention, the therapeutic effects of APA were sustained at the 1-month follow-up. Function in both upper and lower extremities improved after the APA intervention (≥28%) and continued to improve at the 1-month follow-up (≥36%).

CONCLUSIONS: Preliminary results from this small sample provide initial evidence of the effectiveness of APA on CIN. Future studies should confirm these results using a larger sample, a comparative sham control, and an examination of the underlying physiological mechanisms of the anti-CIN effects of APA.

CLINICAL IMPLICATIONS: APA may provide an inexpensive and effective complementary approach for the self-management of CIN. Once the seeds have been taped to the patient's ear by the provider, patients are empowered to self-manage their CIN in their own environment.

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