Treatment of Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy in Integrative Oncology: A Survey of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Practitioners

J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Dec;23(12):964-970. doi: 10.1089/acm.2017.0052. Epub 2017 Jun 29.


Objectives: Complementary and alternative medicine is increasingly integrated into cancer care. We sought detail on the treatment of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) with acupuncture and oriental medicine (AOM) by surveying practitioners at integrative oncology (IO) sites across the United States.

Design: Online survey of licensed acupuncturists.

Setting/location: IO sites in the United States.

Subjects: Fifteen licensed acupuncturists who completed the survey between February 2014 and June 2014.

Outcome measures: Demographics, IO setting characteristics, AOM treatment characteristics, and practitioner-reported outcomes.

Results: Respondents reported an average of 31.3 ± 17.2 patients per week, and one-third (10.1 mean; 7.2 standard deviation [SD]) were treated for CIPN. Medical doctors (86.7%) were the most common providers with whom respondents worked. Traditional Chinese medicine style acupuncture was utilized by a majority of respondents (86.7%), and the most commonly used points were local, typically in the hands and feet, such as Ba Feng, Ba Xie, LV3, and LI4. In addition to acupuncture, nutritional advice was the most frequent auxiliary modality provided by respondents (85.7%). On average, respondents provided 12.75 ± 4.17 treatments for CIPN patients, and a majority (53%) reported treating patients once per week. Timing of the treatments relative to chemotherapy infusion was evenly distributed between "1-2 days after infusion" (60%), "at time of infusion" (53.3%), and "1-2 days before infusion" (46.7%). Sixty percent of respondents rated outcomes as "moderately successful with moderate improvement seen."

Conclusion: This survey provides detail regarding IO sites using acupuncture for CIPN as well as real-world treatment patterns, including common point combinations, visit characteristics, and practitioner-reported outcomes. This information contributes to the emerging evidence on the use of acupuncture to address unmet needs of CIPN patients, and supports the development of best practice guidelines for the treatment of CIPN with acupuncture in the IO setting.

Keywords: acupuncture; chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy; integrative oncology; neurological pain; neuropathic pain.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture / organization & administration*
  • Acupuncture / statistics & numerical data*
  • Acupuncture Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Humans
  • Integrative Oncology
  • Male
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Middle Aged
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases* / chemically induced
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases* / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires