Auricular Point Acupressure to Manage Aromatase Inhibitor–Induced Arthralgia in Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Survivors: A Pilot Study

Chao Hsing Yeh, RN, PhD; Wei-Chun Lin, MD, MS; Lorna Kwai-Ping Suen, RN, MPH, PhD; Na-Jin Park, RN, PhD; Lisa J. Wood, RN, PhD; G.J. van Londen, MD, MS; Dana Howard Bovbjerg, PhD


Purpose/Objectives: To assess the feasibility of auricular point acupressure to manage aromatase inhibitor–induced arthralgia.

Design: Wait list control design.

Setting: Outpatient clinics and oncology center.

Sample: 20 women with aromatase inhibitor–induced arthralgia.

Methods: After baseline data were collected, participants waited one month before they received acupressure once per week for four weeks at a convenient time. The baseline data served as the control comparison. Self-reported measures and blood samples were obtained at baseline, at preintervention, weekly during the intervention, and at post-intervention.

Main Research Variables: The primary outcomes included pain intensity, pain interference, stiffness, and physical function. Inflammatory cytokines and chemokines were tested.

Findings: After the four-week intervention, participants reported decreases in worst pain and pain interference, and improvements in physical function, cancer-related symptom severity, and interference. The proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines displayed a trend of a mean percentage reduction. The anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-13 increased from pre- to postintervention.

Conclusions: Auricular point acupressure is feasible and may be effective in managing arthralgia in breast cancer survivors.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses can administer acupressure in clinical settings, which could enhance the management of aromatase inhibitor–induced arthralgia and contribute to a shift from traditional disease-based biomedical models to a broader, integrative, medical paradigm for managing aromatase inhibitor–induced arthralgia.

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