Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine. During acupuncture, tiny needles are inserted into the skin at various pressure points across the body.
According to Chinese tradition, acupuncture helps balance the flow of energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”), within your body. This new energy balance stimulates the body’s healing abilities.
From the point of view of Western medicine, acupuncture stimulates the nerves and muscles. This helps boost the body’s response to pain, and improves blood circulation.
Acupuncture is commonly used to treat headaches, back pain and joint pain. It’s also used to treat neurological and digestive disorder symptoms like:
- facial tics
- neck pain
- muscle stiffness
Acupuncture for neuropathy
Neuropathy is a disease or dysfunction of one or more peripheral nerves, typically causing numbness or weakness.
In most cases, peripheral neuropathy is secondary to conditions including diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, alcoholism, nutritional deficiencies, AIDS, or poisoning from heavy metals, chemotherapy, or various drugs.
Other causes include compression or entrapment (carpal tunnel syndrome), direct physical injury to a nerve (trauma), penetrated injuries, fractures or dislocated bones, pressure involving superficial nerves (ulna or radial) which can result from prolonged use of crutches or staying in same position, tumor, intraneural hemorrhage, exposure to cold, radiation or atherosclerosis.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include:
- numbness or insensitivity to pain or temperature
- a tingling, burning, or prickling sensation
- sharp, burning pain or cramps
- extreme sensitivity to touch, even a light touch
- loss of balance and coordination
- muscle weakness
- muscle wasting
These symptoms are often worse at night.
Many people have signs of neuropathy upon examination but have no symptoms at all.
Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that Peripheral neuropathy is due to dampness moving to the limbs, where it obstructs the flow of Qi (energy) and Blood within them. The treatment is twofold, to treat the underlying factor that is causing this dampness to accumulate and to directly facilitate the circulation of Qi and Blood in the affected area.
The needles used in acupuncture are inserted into your body’s pressure points to stimulate the nervous system. This releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers, in the muscles, spine, and brain. This technique changes your body’s response to pain.
In treating peripheral neuropathy, acupuncture points on the affected area are used (treating the branch) as well as points on various parts of the body to treat the person according to their particular pattern (treating the root).
Each patient is custom-treated according to his or her specific and unique diagnosis.
“Acupuncture for the Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”:
Acupuncture is beneficial in some peripheral neuropathies, but more rigorously designed studies using sham-acupuncture control are needed to characterize its effect and optimal use better.
“Acupuncture for the treatment of lower limb diabetic peripheral neuropathy: a systematic review”:
Acupuncture for DPN appears to improve symptoms. However, the application of acupuncture varies greatly, and the quality of included studies was generally low.
“A systematic review of acupuncture for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy”:
The evidence is insufficient to recommend acupuncture for the treatment or prevention of cipn. Further research is needed to evaluate the effects of acupuncture in the treatment of cipn. Given that acupuncture is considered safe and might provide relief for patients, it can be considered at the clinician’s discretion.