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Topic: Anyone do accupuncture for lymphedema

Forum: Lymphedema —

Talk with other about how to lower your risk of lymphedema and how to manage it if you've been diagnosed.

Posted on: Sep 2, 2014 12:20PM

Amoc1973 wrote:

I know this is super controversial. But I was wondering if anyone has done accupuncture for lymphedema either with or without the needles being placed in the affected arm. My fathers secretary (a breast cancer survivor) told me she had lymphedema so badly she couldn't lift her arm, but then had accupuncture & it 'went away'. Of course I get pissed when anyone tells me that it went away. And she may be the rare person whos lymphedema resolves. Anyway. I see an acupuncturist trained at memorial Sloan Kettering. We've discussed the acupuncture where u actually put the needles in the affected arm, but for now I've said no. ( I'm actually doing the acupuncture for my crazy hotflashes & no sleep). Anyone with any experiences or know anyone who's tried? I'm just curious.

Surgery 1/3/2012 Lumpectomy: Left; Lymph node removal: Left, Underarm/Axillary Dx 7/2012, IDC, 4cm, Stage IIIA, Grade 2, 5/17 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+ Targeted Therapy 7/6/2012 Tykerb (lapatinib) Targeted Therapy 7/6/2012 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Chemotherapy 1/21/2013 AC + T (Taxol) Radiation Therapy 7/31/2013 Breast, Lymph nodes Hormonal Therapy 9/26/2013
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Sep 2, 2014 05:14PM carol57 wrote:

Amoc, lots of people would love to hear experiences of those who've tried acupuncture for the LE arm, so I'm glad you asked the question. I have no experience with it, but it's come up before, and I think one of the women here is participating in a clinical trial related to acupuncture and LE.  So I hope you'll get some posts with things for us all to think about.

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Sep 2, 2014 07:26PM - edited Sep 2, 2014 07:27PM by BayouBabe

I participated in a clinical trial that dealt with accupuncture and AI pain.  It was recommended that I avoid the accupuncture in my LE arm and side.  I decided it was not worth the risk and did not do it.  

BRCA1+, IDC
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Oct 21, 2014 09:48PM zeph317 wrote:

yes!  I have had right arm lymphedema since the end of my radiation therapy two years ago. I immediately started CDT with my physical therapist. My lymphedema was not responding as expected to this standard treatment. Three weeks in I learned of a friend of a friend who is an acupuncturist (who happens to be certified by Memorial Sloan-Kettering to treat cancer patients) and had seen results with treating lymphedema. Now, I happen to be a Western-trained medical clinician and had never personally used any complementary therapies, but never discouraged my patients from trying them if they were safe practices...just so you know where I'm coming from. I decided to give it a try. Nothing to lose kind of attitude. 

She places the needles only in my lower extremities and does light/phototherapy on my upper extremities. No needles in my upper body at all. As she says, it's not necessary. Interestingly, during this very first treatment, my right arm and hand were noticeably warmer than the left. Coincidence?  Don't think so. The very next day after my first treatment, I returned to PT and when the bandages came off my arm was visibly, palpably, and measurably smaller!  My PT released me to self care within the next ten days, as I continued to go for acupuncture twice a week for about six weeks, then weekly, then every other week, etc. 

Life has intervened and I am more sporadic about acupuncture.  I didn't go all summer while kids were home from school, but went four weeks in a row in September, for example. But it is still very much part of my management.  I find that it always gives me a boost in reducing the size of my arm.  

Dx 2/9/2012, ILC, <1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 2/9 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Oct 21, 2014 11:34PM Blessings2011 wrote:

Actually, my Acupuncturist wanted to place needles in my wrists yesterday, and I asked her not to use the left (cancer) side. I explained why, and she said that she did use the needles on breast cancer patients who'd had lymph node dissections. 

I asked if it would make a difference if she just used ONE side, and she said no.... that the needles on one side only still opened up the meridians, as they were in a continuous loop throughout the body.

More importantly, she said that even though SHE believed it was a safe treatment, she didn't want ME to be stressed about it.

She is a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, educated in China, and I have been very pleased with the results I've gotten from acupuncture so far for other issues. Yesterday, she was just treating my lack of energy, and placed the needles in a few new places. I immediately felt a sense of calm overcome me.

HOWEVER - I do not have Lymphedema - I am just trying to prevent it. 

I didn't have a chance to ask her about whether or not she was treating these women for Lymphedema, but I will at my next visit.

Dx 9/15/2011, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/4/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 8/21/2012 Reconstruction (left): Saline implant; Reconstruction (right): Saline implant Hormonal Therapy 9/4/2012 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 10/21/2013 Femara (letrozole) Dx 7/15/2021, IDC: Papillary, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 19, 2014 01:02AM Blessings2011 wrote:

I did ask my Acupuncturist about whether or not she has treated women for Lymphedema. She has not. She's treated breast cancer patients for other things, but not the swelling associated with LE. I asked her to please ask her colleagues.

Initially, I was referred to this Acupuncturist by my MO. Kaiser has done a clinical research study showing that Acupuncture treatments are effective in reducing joint pain in women who are taking Aromatase Inhibitors. I was very pleased with the results. I eventually stopped taking the AIs because of other SEs, but continued to see the Acupuncturist.

Last summer I suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury. The worst symptoms were loss of memory and complete lack of equilibrium. I still went in for weekly Acupuncture treatments. As the months passed, I began to get better.

Last week, the horrific dizziness came back suddenly, and I made an emergency appointment to see her. She wanted to place a needle in my left wrist, but she knew I was hesitant. She did some Acupressure on a certain spot, then concentrated on different meridians. I did feel somewhat better when I left the office.

Yesterday, I was terribly dizzy as I lay back on the table. I was so desperate I told her to go ahead and use my left (cancer side) wrist. YOWZA! When a meridian is blocked, or stagnated, it can be more painful when a needle is inserted.... and this sure was. However, I had no such reaction in my right (non-cancer) side. I also had needles in my feet, and in my ears. Within minutes the dizziness had passed, and I felt completely normal.

I wish I could find more evidence as to whether or not Acupuncture has helped women with Lymphedema. The treatment itself is so contrary to what we are taught after lymph node removal - take ALL precautions, guard your extremities, LE can come on at any time..... etc.

But the purpose of Acupuncture is to increase the flow of energy in the body, to prevent stagnation - not only of energy, but of blood and lymph. If a tiny, thin, acupuncture needle can be inserted (very shallowly) to break up the stagnation, it would seem that this could be very effective in preventing the painful swelling and daily requirements of MLD and wrapping.

But here you have a direct conflict of Western and Eastern medicine.

I was really desperate yesterday, and it helped that I don't actually have LE. (In fact, I was told by my now-retired BS that I couldn't get LE because I "only" had an SNB !!!!!!) But since my surgery, I have taken all the precautions anyway, thanks to all the incredible information I have gathered on this forum.

I am just so curious as to how I might find more information.... legitimate information, not just "We can cure everything!" put out by some shady online Acupuncture clinic.

I'll keep you informed.....

Dx 9/15/2011, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/4/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 8/21/2012 Reconstruction (left): Saline implant; Reconstruction (right): Saline implant Hormonal Therapy 9/4/2012 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 10/21/2013 Femara (letrozole) Dx 7/15/2021, IDC: Papillary, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 19, 2014 01:11AM wrenn wrote:

i had alnd and the acupuncturist i see for neuropathy said it is fine to use the needles on both sides.

Metaplastic IDC Triple negative...Tumour is 1.5cm. BMX Aug. 16th. Chemo cancelled after one dose due to complications. Dx 7/25/2013, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2- Surgery 8/16/2013 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy: Left, Right
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Nov 19, 2014 10:58PM Blessings2011 wrote:

Thanks, wrenn!!!

Does the Acupuncture help with your neuropathy?


Dx 9/15/2011, IDC, <1cm, Stage IA, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 12/4/2011 Lymph node removal: Left; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Surgery 8/21/2012 Reconstruction (left): Saline implant; Reconstruction (right): Saline implant Hormonal Therapy 9/4/2012 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 10/21/2013 Femara (letrozole) Dx 7/15/2021, IDC: Papillary, Left, <1cm, Stage IA, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 20, 2014 08:59AM lyla92 wrote:

Thanks for starting this topic and for all of the responses. I have often wondered if acupuncture could help my LE, but since I have never tried it for anything I have zero point of reference. I love hearing about ways that you all find relief!

Dx 10/3/2011, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/27 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Radiation Therapy Chemotherapy Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel)
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Dec 10, 2014 11:12AM new2bc wrote:

I am going to Chinese acupuncture this week for the first time. I am debating if I should allow her to put needles in my cancer side. Has anyone had experience where these needles caused lymphedema? I don't have any pain anywhere but wanted to balance the meridians.  Any thoughts?

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Dec 23, 2014 04:05AM Nordy wrote:

I did acupuncture a couple of years ago... I don't know if it helped, but it certainly did not hurt. And actually, it helped with other things -- like pain in my left ankle, some sciatic pain, hip pain... LOL! I love acupuncture and am currently trying to get into see my provider with my most recent flair of lymphedema, because I honestly think it will help.

Do or do not. There is no try. (Yoda!) 2 large positive nodes before neoadjuvant chemo - all nodes negative after chemo Dx 4/21/2005, IDC, 3cm, Stage IIB, Grade 3, 0/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2-
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Mar 3, 2015 10:28PM ahdjdbcjdjdbkf wrote:

I do accu on my affected arm and it helps every time. There is a recent study that says that a large group of women who had accu on their impacted arm had mixed results - about hof got relief and half didn't. None were deemed to have gotten worse from it.

Dx 3/2/2012, IDC, Right, 3cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ (FISH) Dx 3/2/2012, IDC, 1cm, Stage IIA, Grade 3, 1/12 nodes, ER-/PR-, HER2+ Surgery 3/22/2012 Mastectomy: Left, Right Chemotherapy 4/5/2012 AC + T (Taxol) Targeted Therapy 6/27/2012 Herceptin (trastuzumab) Radiation Therapy 10/7/2012 3DCRT: Breast, Lymph nodes Surgery 1/27/2013 Reconstruction (left); Reconstruction (right) Surgery 8/6/2013 Reconstruction (right): Latissimus dorsi flap Surgery 8/6/2013 Reconstruction (left) Surgery 2/24/2014 Reconstruction (left): Nipple reconstruction; Reconstruction (right): Nipple reconstruction
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Mar 16, 2015 12:36PM rrs wrote:

Just wondering how it went Nordy?


 

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