A relaxing session of acupressure can help reduce the persistent fatigue suffered by women being treated for breast cancer and improve their sleep, quality of life as well as provide a low-cost way to manage other symptoms, a study has found.
Derived from traditional Chinese medicine, acupressure involves applying pressure with fingers, thumbs or a device to specific points on the body.
About a third of women experience moderate to severe fatigue one of the most common long-term effects of breast cancer treatment up to 10 years after the treatment ends.
“Fatigue is an under-appreciated symptom across a lot of chronic diseases, especially cancer. It has a significant impact on quality of life,” said Suzanna Zick, Associate Research Professor at the University of Michigan.
The findings revealed that acupressure reduced fatigue by 27 per cent to 34 per cent over six weeks.
Two-thirds of women who did relaxing acupressure a certain type of the healing method showed significant improvements in fatigue levels, measure of sleep quality, such as disrupted sleep and overall quality of life, the researchers said.
“Acupressure is easy to learn and patients can do it themselves. The intervention could be a low-cost option for treating fatigue,” Zick added.
In the study, published in the journal JAMA Oncology, the team tested two types of acupressure: relaxing acupressure, used traditionally to treat insomnia and stimulating acupressure, which is used to increase energy. The two techniques differ by which points on the body are stimulated.
The team recruited 424 breast cancer survivors from the Michigan Tumor Registry.
At the end of the trial, both acupressure treatments resulted in significant, sustained improvements in fatigue.
However, the relaxing method appeared to cause more significant improvements in fatigue levels of breast cancer patients.