Acupuncture therapy may help improve conditions for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy drug treatments who experience tingling or numbness in the arms and legs or at times sharp pain, according to a pilot study.

The nerve condition known as chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) makes it difficult for individuals to perform daily tasks.Drugs typically used in such treatments are taxane, vinca alkaloids, or platinum.

An estimated 30 -40 percent of cancer patients treated with chemotherapy experience these symptoms, according to National Cancer Institute (NCI) part of the U.S. Department of Health.


Researchers at the HanseMerkur Centre for Traditional Chinese Medicine at the University Medical Centre in Hamburg conducted a pilot study on the effects of acupuncture, assessing signaling speed and intensity of nerves in the calf of six chemotherapy volunteer patients, before and after acupuncture. During clinical examination patients had both mixture of numbness and nerve pain.

The study was published in the journal Acupuncture Therapy.

Acupuncture was given with twenty needles inserted at prescribed points and depths and left in place for 20 minutes during a three month session.

A doctor who has been fully trained in acupuncture for 20 years performed the treatment.


Five out of the six patients in the acupuncture group improved speed and intensity of the nerve signaling, compared to the group that did not receive acupuncture.

The authors pointed to previous research that suggested acupuncture may increase blood circulation in the legs and may repair nerve damage.After the study’s positive results, researchers are planning to perform a larger trial to further their investigation.