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Acupuncture for
Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy: Answering the Burning Questions

Elias Lu, DTCM,

Acupuncture Physician

Point of Cure Acupuncture and Electromedicine in Tampa Bay, Florida

cartoonish picture of a human with neuropathic pain
  • Neuropathic pain is a challenging condition to treat
  • Acupuncture (especially electroacupuncture) is increasingly used to treat nerve pain
  • Acupuncture improves nerve conduction in both sensory and motor nerves
  • Acupuncture appears to be effective in treating neuropathy with fewer side effects than medications

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy refers to a group of conditions caused by damage to the nerves connecting your brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. This type of pain is notoriously difficult to treat. The drugs used tend to have significant side effects. Therapies fail to provide long-lasting relief.

 

What Are the Symptoms?

Patient may report the following symptoms:

 

  • Tingling, numbness, or burning in the hands and feet

  • Facial pain (trigeminal neuralgia)

  • Hand numbness (carpal tunnel syndrome)

  • Feeling as if wearing gloves or socks (diabetic neuropathy)

  • Difficulty sleeping due to severe sensitivity to touch

  • Lack of coordination and frequent falls

  • Muscle weakness (if motor nerves affected)

  • Heat intolerance, excessive or inadequate sweating (autonomic neuropathy)

  • Digestive problems (nausea, constipation due to autonomic neuropathy)

  • Low blood pressure causing dizziness and falls (autonomic neuropathy)

 

What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy can result from injuries (carpal tunnel syndrome – a type of mononeuropathy), metabolic problems (diabetes, hypovitaminosis, cancer), inherited causes (Charcot-Marie-Tooth), viral infections (HIV, Lyme, EBV, Bell’s palsy), autoimmune disease (Sjogren's syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Guillain-Barre), and exposure to toxins (alcohol abuse, chemotherapy).

 

What Treatments Are Available?

Ideally, we should be looking at and correcting the underlying causes of peripheral neuropathy. Vitamin deficiencies, for example, can be uncovered via blood tests and treated with oral or parenteral vitamins. A compressed nerve (as in carpal tunnel syndrome) can be released through surgery. Diabetic neuropathy can somewhat improve with better blood sugar control. Alas, many other neuropathies remain quite difficult to treat. While medications (such as gabapentin or tricyclics) can help manage the symptoms, they do not change the course of the disease.

 

How about Acupuncture?

Enter acupuncture. Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine practice dating back thousands of years, has garnered significant attention in modern healthcare for its potential in treating various ailments, including peripheral neuropathy. While certainly not a cure, it does offer real pain relief – as experienced by thousands of my patients.

 

Electroacupuncture, an advanced form of traditional acupuncture, involves the application of mild electrical stimulation to acupuncture points. Electroacupuncture may facilitate the regeneration of damaged nerves, leading to improved sensory and motor function. Additionally, the analgesic effects of electroacupuncture can provide much-needed relief from the chronic pain commonly associated with peripheral neuropathy.

 

In addition to electroacupuncture, acupoint injection therapy (APIT) offers another promising approach for managing peripheral neuropathy. This technique involves the injection of sterile substances, such as vitamins and herbal extracts, into specific acupoints. By delivering these substances directly to the affected acupoints, APIT can enhance their bioavailability and prolong their therapeutic effect.

 

How does Acupuncture Work?

At this point, the research is ongoing. The thinking is that acupuncture works by increasing blood flow and stimulating the body's nerve pathways.

 

Should I Try Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is rather inexpensive and has fewer side effects than medication therapy. On the upside, you might need a course of acupuncture therapy before you notice any improvement. People respond to acupuncture differently. Factors such as the severity of neuropathic symptoms, underlying health conditions, and individual differences in acupuncture response can influence treatment outcomes. You would have to try acupuncture to see if it is for you. If not, there certainly are other promising treatments for neuropathic pain such as Scrambler therapy, drugs that target N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, stem cell therapy, and even gene therapy.

 

Schedule your introductory acupuncture session by calling 727-252-6060 or send me a message via the website www.pointofcure.com.

References

Dimitrova A. (2017). Introducing a Standardized Acupuncture Protocol for Peripheral Neuropathy: A Case Series. Medical acupuncture, 29(6), 352–365. https://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2017.1242

 

Hwang, M. S., Lee, H. Y., Choi, T. Y., Lee, J. H., Ko, Y. S., Jo, D. C., Do, K., Lee, J. H., & Park, T. Y. (2020). A systematic review and meta-analysis of the efficacy of acupuncture and electroacupuncture against chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Medicine, 99(17), e19837. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000019837

 

Schröder, S., Liepert, J., Remppis, A., & Greten, J. H. (2007). Acupuncture treatment improves nerve conduction in peripheral neuropathy. European journal of neurology, 14(3), 276–281. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-1331.2006.01632.x

doctor's picture

Dr. Elias Lu, DTCM is an acupuncture physician with Point of Cure Acupuncture and Electromedicine. In practice for over 25 years, he integrates traditional Chinese medicine with modern functional therapies to help people with chronic pain, trauma, neurodegenerative disorders, anxiety, depression, and many other life's challenges.

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