Post Operative Anxiety and Pain: Managed by Combination (Acupuncture, Massage) Therapy

Post Operative Anxiety and Pain: Managed by Combination (Acupuncture, Massage) T

The diagnosis of cancer can be as catastrophic as the news of the death of a loved one. The initial reaction of the individual is shock and denial, which is generally followed by anxiety, depressed mood, poor concentration, and impairment of daily activities. Such an emotional reaction is normal and expected, and with social support it is usually resolved within a few weeks; however, studies on cancer patients have revealed that as much as 40% of these patients may have mild or moderate degrees of depression. Advanced stage of cancer is associated with marked disability and discomfort and such patients are more often prone to depression. Many drugs used in the treatment of cancer have depression as their side-effect. It is possible that cancer patients run an additional risk for suicide if the illness occurs in a setting of pre-existing depression, advanced age, poor social support, family history of depression and suicide, disfigurement due to disease or surgery, and severe pain.

If your doctor suspects you'll develop cancer in certain tissues or organs, he or she may recommend removing those tissues or organs before cancer develops. For example, if you have a genetic condition called familial polyposis, your doctor may use cancer surgery to remove your colon and rectum because you have a high risk of developing colon cancer in the future. People used to think they just had to put up with severe pain after surgery.

Some of the common medical disorders more often associated with depression are brain disorders, hormonal disorders, heart disease, chronic pain and cancer.Patients who experience awareness under surgery may suffer from the post-traumatic stress disorder with its long-lasting psychological damage.

Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, miserable, or down in the dumps. Most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods. But true clinical depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for an extended time.

Late effects are side effects of cancer treatment that become apparent after your treatment has ended. Cancer survivors might experience late effects of cancer treatment a few months after treatment is completed or years later.It isn't clear why these effects are delayed. Some doctors believe that late effects simply weren't noticed during and immediately after your treatment, though the damage may have been there all along. It could be that your body was compensating for the damage caused by cancer treatment and is no longer able to do that, revealing these late effects.

A combination of acupuncture and massage may help ease pain and depression symptoms after cancer surgery, a new study suggests.

Acupuncture has been shown in many studies to ease pain, and there's growing evidence that it helps quell post-surgery nausea. Massage, meanwhile, has been shown in certain studies to aid cancer patients' anxiety.

The modern scientific explanation for why acupuncture works is that needling the acupuncture points stimulates the nervous system to release chemicals in the muscles, spinal cord, and brain. These chemicals will either change the experience of pain, or they will trigger the release of other chemicals and hormones which influence the body's own internal regulating system. The roots of acupuncture lie in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In Chinese tradition, the goal of acupuncture is to encourage the movement of qi (life energy). The constant flow of qi is essential for a person to keep their health.

Acupuncture is used to treat a variety of illnesses, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, arthritis, back pain, asthma, upset stomachs and depression. The number of sessions needed varies, depending on the disorder.Until now, however, no studies have tried combining the two therapies for people undergoing cancer surgery -- a physically and emotionally difficult process.

Massage can be applied to parts of the body or successively to the whole body, to aid the process of injury healing, relieve psychological stress, manage pain, and improve circulation. Where massage is used for its physiological, mental, and mechanical benefits, it may be termed "therapeutic massage" or manipulative therapy.

The new study included 138 patients who were randomly assigned to have either standard post-operative care or standard care plus acupuncture and massage for 2 days following their cancer surgery.

Overall, the study found, patients who received the therapies had a steeper decline in pain over 3 days, as well as fewer symptoms of depression. The findings are published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management.

"We can say that adding acupuncture and massage definitely helped," said lead study author Dr. Wolf E. Mehling, an assistant professor of family and community medicine at the University of California San Francisco.

It's possible, he told Reuters Health, that the patients in the acupuncture/massage group did better simply because they received extra attention, and not because of a specific effect of the therapies.

On the other hand, there's evidence from other research that acupuncture and massage have relevant physiological effects. For example, Mehling noted, animal research has found that massage can increase blood levels of oxytocin, a hormone with pain- and anxiety-relieving actions; increased oxytocin levels might counter stress-hormone elevations around the time surgery, Mehling explained.

Similarly, there's evidence that acupuncture triggers the release of nervous system chemicals that help dull pain.

Whether the therapies will become a widely used part of cancer treatment, following surgery or in other contexts, remains to be seen. A few major cancer centers in the U.S. currently offer acupuncture and massage to inpatients and outpatients, Mehling said.

One question is who should pay for it. Centers can offer the therapies as part of their standard care, or charge patients extra for it, Mehling noted. While patients might be convinced that acupuncture or massage are worth a try, he pointed out, hospital administrators and insurance plans will likely need more research evidence that the therapies are worth the cost


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