Can Acupuncture Help Neuropathy? Yes, and Here is How
Almost 20 million people around the USA have been diagnosed with some kind of peripheral neuropathy. Although it’s primarily caused by diabetes, the factors that may impact its development may be different – therefore, the symptoms and signs vary from person to person. Since it’s about a considerable number of patients, there are many different treatments available. Apart from Western medicine approaches, which include the use of pain medicines, physical therapies, or even surgeries, people started to consider some other vital healing methods, such as alternative treatments.
Acupuncture for peripheral neuropathy is one of the most common alternative methods that has proven to be useful for treating different types of nerve pain. Thanks to its focus on encouraging the body to promote natural healing, acupuncture helps to eliminate any underlying cause of neuropathy. Additionally, it brings more advantages.
This article will reveal the most critical aspects of acupuncture for neuropathy and help you get a broader picture of its benefits for your overall health.
Key Aspects of Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy comes as a result of damage to the nerves that carry the message to and from the brain and spinal cord from and to the rest of the body. The consequences of such damage include numbness, weakness, and pain in hands, legs, or feet.
It can be caused by a variety of factors, among which diabetes is the most common one. Neuropathy can come as a result of traumatic injuries, infections, alcohol abuse, inherited causes, or exposure to toxins.
Since there are many types of neuropathy, not all the patients will feel the same symptoms. However, most of them will notice changes in their ability to move, oversensitivity to touch, muscle weakness, heat intolerance, and stabbing pain that prevents them from performing everyday activities.
As already mentioned, neuropathy can be treated in various ways, which include the methods of both Eastern and Western medicine. It means that patients are often suggested to take antidepressants or anti-seizure medication, to go to therapies, and to treat the underlying condition that caused neuropathy in the first place.
Still, they are advised to try some of the best practices provided by Eastern medicine, which often includes acupuncture and Chinese herbs.
Acupuncture for Nerve Damage Explained
Acupuncture is a healing method that originates from traditional Chinese medicine, which has been successfully used for treating different forms of conditions for centuries.
The entire treatment is aimed at encouraging the body to produce its own healing, which is critical for preventing the development of a variety of diseases and strengthening the immune system. Since it’s focused on improving the whole body, acupuncture will bring much better and more long-lasting results than many other therapies.
Most patients seek acupuncture mainly because they want to relieve different types of pain they consistently feel. To help you, a certified acupuncturist will insert small, thin, and stainless steel needles into specific acupoints in the body, making sure the procedure impacts the release of the energy necessary for improving your well-being. Such energy is known as “qi” or “chi.”
Acupuncture is useful for treating pain without having to take drugs that may be bad for your organism. That’s convenient for patients with peripheral neuropathy, who often need to take strong medicines available by prescription only.
Is Acupuncture for Nerve Pain Safe?
There are many questions regarding the safety of acupuncture treatments. Even though it involves the use of needles, the procedure is considered entirely safe, mainly when it’s performed by a certified practitioner who uses sterile needles.
It may produce mild side effects, which might include bruising, soreness, or slight bleeding. More severe consequences are less noted, which is why we can say that acupuncture won’t harm your health in any way.
Overall, it’s recommended to consult your practitioner and provide them with information about your medical history before you decide to go to acupuncture.
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How Can Acupuncture Help People with Peripheral Neuropathy?
The greatest benefits of acupuncture lie in its ability to help people alleviate the pain and relax their muscles. It’s primarily focused on treating chronic lower back pain and headaches, but it has also delivered remarkable results in treating pain caused by nerve damages.
However, pain is not the only inconvenience acupuncture can successfully cure. Namely, peripheral neuropathy is followed by a lot more signs that can affect your overall health and prevent you from doing some things you used to do before.
That said, acupuncture will help you mitigate the following symptoms:
- Numbness or paresthesia in the arms or legs
- Stocking-and-glove pattern (the feeling as if you were wearing socks and gloves even if you are not)
- Muscle weakness
- Digestive problems
- Changes in blood pressure
- And more.
Your acupuncturist will suggest the number of sessions and determine the other details based on your medical history and your current state.
To treat your condition with success, your practitioner will perform the session aimed at improving the flow of energy and blood. By improving the blood flow, the nerve tissues of the affected area can be nourished in order to repair the nerve functions and mitigate the pain.
Sometimes, the underlying cause of peripheral neuropathy involves the excessive use of alcohol or poor diet. In such situations, acupuncture can help patients gain awareness of the importance of preserving their health and make them pay more attention to what they eat and drink.
Acupuncture will also help you gain awareness of the importance of regulating your blood sugar levels, which is essential for people whose neuropathy comes as a result of diabetes.
Here are the most common acupuncture styles practitioners tend to use for neuropathy treatments:
One of the most common acupuncture styles used for treating peripheral neuropathy is Cutaneous Acupuncture, which is famous for the use of specific acupuncture needles to stimulate an area superficially. That way, the flow of qi and blood are promoted smoothly.
The needles used for performing Cutaneous Acupuncture consist of a small bunch of needles attached to a handle. The affected area should be slightly tapped, starting with the toes or fingers and then up to legs and arms.
Acupoints that are stimulated are often found on the hands and feet.
Another acupuncture style that’s delivered excellent results in treating the consequences of neuropathy is electroacupuncture. It’s efficient for treating pain and restoring the health and well-being of a person, which is why you can significantly benefit from it.
Electroacupuncture involves the use of a small electric current that’s passed between pairs of acupuncture needles, and it’s quite a convenient solution for all the patients that are suffering from any kind of pain.
It is considered that the combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs can bring the best results in treating neuropathy. One of the most common therapies that include herbs is moxibustion, which consists of the burning of mugwort leaf to stimulate acupoints.
Moxibustion is useful for reducing pain severity and decreasing the feeling of “pins and needles” and numbness that comes as a consequence of peripheral neuropathy.
Acupuncture and Neuropathy: Outcomes
Unfortunately, researches conducted today are more centered on Western medicine than acupuncture, which is why people often feel skeptical about the entire idea. Still, many prestigious universities around the US have decided to dedicate their research to finding out how acupuncture can help patients with peripheral neuropathy, making sure they deliver valuable and measurable results.
Department of Neurology, from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, conducted vital research about the connection between peripheral neuropathy and acupuncture. Their goal was to prove that acupuncture could bring significant improvements to patients of different age and condition severity.
They gathered ten patients diagnosed with neuropathy that was caused differently at each of them. They all went through at least six acupuncture sessions, but the total number of treatments varied from person to person. There were performed both manual and electroacupuncture.
All patients had symptoms typical for peripheral neuropathy, including numbness, paresthesia, stocking-and-glove pattern, as well as the other signs. After a certain number of sessions, every patient declared that they felt reduced numbness and that their pain was not as intense as it used to be before treatments.
It’s essential to mention that some patients needed to complete 10 sessions in order to see improvements while some of them had to go to even 25 treatments. It depended mostly on a patient’s age and a condition’s cause and severity.
Benefits of Acupuncture for Neuropathy
There are numerous benefits of acupuncture for nerve pain, and they reflect in different areas of a person’s health. Here are the most common advantages you’ll get from acupuncture sessions:
Your Body Will Become More Resistant to Pain
Acupuncture will help the body produce endorphins, which are your body’s natural painkillers – such a technique will change your body’s response to pain, which means that some of the most common symptoms of neuropathy will be significantly reduced.
Besides, there will be less need for drugs that could harm your organism.
You’ll Get Motivation to Implement Healthy Habits
Unhealthy habits can cause different issues, among which is peripheral neuropathy.
If you used to eat junk food, drink excessive doses of alcohol, and smoke cigarettes, acupuncture could help you go through the process of getting rid of such tendencies. It won’t make you give up smoking or drinking immediately, but it will help you recognize these habits as something that jeopardizes your health.
Acupuncture Will Help You Control Your Emotions
Nerve damage that’s caused by diabetes can affect your emotions, making you feel down quite frequently. Such mood often comes as a result of weakening nerves that can make you feel angry, guilty, lonely, or disappointed.
Doctors tend to prescribe antidepressants to help you go through the mood changes, but that may not be something that would help you get long-term results. To avoid the use of drugs, consider acupuncture treatments, whose core objectives lie in the ability to improve a person’s emotional health and stabilize their mood.
Acupuncture can successfully treat the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mood swings, which are characteristic for people that suffer from any kind of neuropathy. It releases the flow of the vital energy, known as qi, increasing the levels of endorphin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which are responsible for producing a positive mood state.
How to Find the Right Licensed Acupuncturist?
Acupuncture for neuropathy is generally considered safe, but you shouldn’t leave things to chance and risk by booking an appointment at the clinic that doesn’t seem credible.
Make sure your acupuncturist has completed the necessary training and meets all the requirements determined by the state. You can always ask your doctor for a referral or check the websites that provide such information (Yelp or Google Reviews).
Once you’ve found a certified practitioner, make sure he/she offers the treatments for your condition and schedule an appointment.
How to Prepare for the First Acupuncture Appointment?
You must be wondering what you can expect from your first visit. Even though it may seem intimidating, the truth is that you have nothing to worry about – here is what you’re supposed to do:
- Bing all the necessary medical information, including MRI reports, OCT scans, etc.
- Make sure you arrive 10-15 minutes early to avoid being stressed or late
- Complete online paperwork before your arrival using PC or tablet
- Be honest with your practitioner and answer all the questions regarding your health history.
- Wear loose and comfortable clothes that will allow the exposure of your affected area.
A typical acupuncture session may look like this:
- A certified acupuncturist may examine you by taking your pulse, examining your tongue, and looking at your skin and eyes
- A practitioner may use established landmarks to determine the placement of acupuncture needles
- He/She will quickly tap the needles into the specific points of your body
- A treatment may last from 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your condition
- The number of treatments will also depend on your condition and the progress you’re making.
After the initial visit, your acupuncturist will recommend a treatment strategy that may include both acupuncture and the use of Chinese herbs. He/She may also express their expectations about the therapy outcomes and advise you on diet and medications you should implement.
It’s vital to listen to your practitioner and follow their instructions. The healing process requires a lot of patience and persistence, which is why it’s essential to give your best to make some significant changes in your life. That way, the improvements will come sooner.
Makari Wellness – A Prominent Acupuncture Clinic for Nerve Damage Treatments
We believe that the best results come from a powerful combination of Western and Eastern medicine, which is why our approaches differ from those that people have experienced.
Mike Woodworth, a peripheral neuropathy specialist from Makari Wellness, uses different methods rooted in both modern and traditional Chinese medicine to determine the underlying cause of your condition. That way, he comes up with the most efficient strategies to address your health concerns and help you notice significant improvements.
Book your first appointment with our licensed acupuncturist at (888) 871-8889 and beat the pain you’ve been struggling with