An American pilot study indicates that acupuncture may be able to help relieve non-cyclical breast pain. (Cyclical breast pain follows the menstrual cycle, and usually occurs between ovulation and menstruation. Non-cyclical breast pain occurs due to such problems as cysts or fibroadenomas; the cause cannot always be found, but it accounts for around 30% of breast pain cases.)
A total of 37 patients who commonly described their non-cyclical pain as throbbing and heavy, were given four acupuncture treatments over two weeks, and followed up for a further three months. Patients reported a significant decrease in pain after acupuncture, with pain scores reducing by an average 3.5 points on a 10 point scale for the worst pain experienced over the previous month. Interference from pain reduced by an average 2.3 points. Overall, the percentage of patients reporting a clinically significant decrease in pain was 67% for the worst pain and 65% for average pain. Pain interference was significantly reduced for 56% of the women. On the basis of these results, the authors of the study recommend a full randomised controlled trial.
(Acupuncture for Treatment of Noncyclic Breast Pain: A Pilot Study. American Journal of Chinese Medicine, 2011.)