Episode 219: Use Acupuncture and Acupressure to Manage Cancer Symptoms and Side Effects

“Using that view of looking at the whole person, we can provide some acupuncture or acupressure to help maybe reduce anxiety, to help them relax a little bit more, settle their thinking down a little bit, and get some improved sleep,” ONS member Susan Yaguda, MSN, RN, RN manager in integrative oncology at the Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute in Charlotte, NC, told Stephanie Jardine, BSN, RN, oncology clinical specialist at ONS, during a discussion on using acupuncture and acupressure to manage symptoms and side effects of cancer and cancer treatment. Yaguda also demonstrated example acupressure techniques that nurses can try at home and in their practice. You can earn free NCPD contact hours after listening to this episode by completing the evaluation linked below.

Music Credit: "Fireflies and Stardust" by Kevin MacLeod

Licensed under Creative Commons by Attribution 3.0

Earn 0.75 contacts hour of nursing continuing professional development (NCPD) by listening to the full recording and completing an evaluation at myoutcomes.ons.org by August 5, 2024. The planners and faculty for this episode have no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies to disclose. ONS is accredited as a provider of NCPD by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

Episode Notes

To discuss the information in this episode with other oncology nurses, visit the ONS Communities.

To provide feedback or otherwise reach ONS about the podcast, email pubONSVoice@ons.org.

Highlights From Today’s Episode

“When people have a disruption in their health—and it could be your emotional well-being, physical, or both—in traditional Chinese medicine, it is reflected in that the flow of qi has been disrupted. Acupuncture and acupressure address this by trying to open up and even out that flow, by either inserting tiny little needles called acupuncture needles, or by exerting gentle pressure—called acupressure—on specific acupoints.” Timestamp (TS) 03:22

“What I really love about traditional Chinese medicine is it’s very holistic. It’s looking at the whole person, at systems working together, and it really meshes beautifully with what I think of as nursing practice, as nurses, that we step back and that we are looking at the whole person. And how maybe an imbalance in one area of one’s life can definitely impact other areas as well.” TS 05:27

“We know that patients who receive neurotoxic chemotherapies can develop painful neuropathy that can really be impactful on their quality of life. We have found, and the literature also supports, that if patients can come in and get some sessions of acupuncture, it can be really impactful on their neuropathy.” TS 08:09

“Using that view of looking at the whole person, we can provide some acupuncture or acupressure to help maybe reduce anxiety, to help them relax a little bit more, settle their thinking down a little bit, and get some improved sleep, which as we all know is a very important part of health and well-being and definitely for our patients something that can better help them manage treatment moving forward.” TS 10:56

“Integrative medicine looks at using complementary therapies in a very collaborative way with what we would consider to be more conventional medical treatment, so that it’s coordinated and very intentionally meshed together to best suit the patients’ needs at whatever point along the trajectory of their care.” TS 12:58

“Some cancer centers do have an integrative medicine department, and oftentimes acupuncture is part of that.” TS 15:56

“Not only could our care partners use some acupressure themselves to help with fatigue, anxiety, and their own sleep difficulties, but it gives them something that they can be easily trained to do to share with their loved one. And sometimes, it’s so important for them to feel like they can contribute positively to their loved one’s well-being in some sort of way. I always encourage, if possible, for a care partner to be involved in the process as well.” TS 20:47

“Using battlefield acupuncture, or acupuncture and acupressure of any kind, is not a replacement for appropriate medical management of symptoms—whether it’s pain, nausea, or anxiety, for example. Think about this as another tool in the toolbox to offer to our patients that has very few side effects. . . . It should never be considered a replacement for that type of care.” TS 32:45

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