Peripheral neuropathy affects around 2.4% of people worldwide, and this percentage can increase to 5% to 7% for individuals 45 and older.
This disease affects your peripheral nervous system (consists of nerves outside the spinal cord and brain). It can happen due to trauma, insufficient blood flow, or genetic conditions.
If you or your loved one has neuropathy, you may be seeking solutions to help treat this condition or manage its symptoms. In this case, consider acupuncture as one of your options.
How does acupuncture work? Is it effective for neuropathic pain?
Neuropathy happens when there’s damage to the nerves. This condition often leads to numbness, pain, and weakness, especially in your hands and feet.
Neuropathy can also cause excessive sweating. This symptom suggests a possibility of sweating at night or while eating. If you have sweaty palms, this page provides helpful information on how to treat this condition.
Learning the effects of acupuncture can help you determine if this practice is the right solution for your pain. Keep reading to learn how acupuncture can help relieve neuropathic pain and the benefits and risks of this procedure.
Neuropathy and neuropathic pain pose significant therapeutic challenges for many healthcare professionals. Despite a recent surge in acupuncture research and use, scientists know little about the effects of this procedure on nerve function.
People believe acupuncture points help stimulate the nervous system to release chemicals into the brain, spinal cord, and muscles. These biochemical changes may help trigger your body’s natural healing process and promote emotional and physical well-being if you undergo this procedure.
In recent years, acupuncture has emerged as an essential integrative medicine treatment in clinical and hospital settings.
Still, researchers continue gathering evidence of acupuncture’s potential anti-inflammatory effects. Randomized controlled trials may also help establish proof of the effectiveness of acupuncture in managing back pain, neck pain, and osteoarthritis.
Modern technology has also led to the development of electroacupuncture using transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. This procedure may help relieve pain through home treatment and make cancer pain management realistic.
Researchers performed a systematic review on acupuncture and suggested that acupuncture treatment may help with diabetic neuropathy, Bell’s palsy, and CTS (carpal tunnel syndrome).
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage due to high blood glucose (blood sugar) levels and fat, such as triglycerides, in your blood. Studies show that acupuncture may significantly relieve diabetic neuropathy, and researchers suggest considering this procedure a treatment option for this condition.
If you have Bell’s palsy, you may experience paralysis or weakness on one side of your face. One of the nerves controlling your facial muscles may stop working or become injured, leading to this condition.
Some studies suggested that acupuncture may help with Bell’s palsy. But the evidence is insufficient to support the safety and efficacy of this procedure.
Meanwhile, CTS causes tingling, pain, and numbness in your hand and forearm. You may have CTS when the median nerve, a major nerve of your hand, gets compressed or squeezed in your wrist.
Results from clinical trials suggest that acupuncture may have significantly greater effectiveness in managing CTS than night splints (braces), oral vitamin supplements, or sham acupuncture (skin stimulation with or without needles).
Another benefit of acupuncture is its potential to help with metabolic problems associated with an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Scientists still need to conduct large-scale clinical trials to confirm the procedure’s effectiveness for this condition.
Acupuncture may also be effective in neuropathy related to HIV (human immunodeficiency virus). But with researchers still needing to conduct further studies in this field, acupuncture’s therapeutic potential for this condition remains uncertain.
Scientists haven’t determined how acupuncture works within Western medicine’s framework, so acupuncture continues to be a controversial healthcare topic.
This uncertainty is why taking precautions and understanding acupuncture’s risks and side effects are essential.
You may experience soreness, bruising, or minor bleeding in areas where the acupuncturist inserts the needles. But you can lower your exposure to acupuncture-related risks if a competent, certified practitioner uses sterile needles.
Standard acupuncture also requires practitioners to use single-use, disposable needles, so you have a minimal infection risk.
Despite its purported benefits, acupuncture may not be suitable for everyone. Consult your doctor about this procedure first, and discuss the treatments and medicines you are taking. Also, tell your doctor if you:
- Are pregnant
- Have chronic skin problems
- Are at risk for infection
- Have a pacemaker or other devices
- Have breast implants
Acupuncture can become a health risk if you don’t tell your doctor these things. So ensure to provide this information to your physician so that they can determine whether you should try safer alternatives instead.
Don’t just rely on an acupuncture practitioner’s recommendation. If you receive a diagnosis from your doctor, ask them whether this procedure may help manage your condition.
Finally, when your doctor recommends acupuncture, choose a licensed practitioner to perform the procedure on you.
Your healthcare provider can refer you to a certified acupuncture practitioner. Most states require nonphysician acupuncturists to pass an exam administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine used to help relieve health conditions and symptoms like pain. Practitioners perform this procedure by inserting thin steel needles into specific points in your skin.
Acupuncturists believe this technique may help your body balance its energy, called chi or qi, and boost your body’s natural painkillers.
If you plan to undergo acupuncture, you must know that some of its forms aim to rebalance qi by inserting needles into acupoints (acupuncture points) throughout your body. Hundreds of acupoints allegedly exist in your body along 14 major meridians that practitioners call energy-carrying channels.
Others use acupuncture needles with Western medicine for stimulating the body’s systems.
If you undergo acupuncture for the first time, the acupuncturist will ask about your condition to get an idea of what procedure to perform.
The acupuncturist will examine your body for areas that may react to acupuncture. Afterward, they will gently tap the needles into your skin throughout the body.
The needles used on you are sterile and as thin as human hair. The acupuncturist can insert the needles at various depths, from less than an inch to a couple of inches. The needles remain in your skin from a few minutes to about 20 minutes.
You may feel minimal pain as the acupuncturist inserts the needle to the point that produces pressure or ache. The practitioner can heat the needles or apply mild electric current during treatment. While some people claim the procedure makes them feel relaxed, others may say they feel energized.
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Peripheral Neuropathy: Symptoms & Causes
- Acupuncture for the Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- Diabetic Neuropathy
- Effect of Acupuncture on Diabetic Neuropathy: A Narrative Review
- Bell’s Palsy
- Efficacy of Acupuncture for Bell’s Palsy: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Acupuncture for metabolic syndrome: systematic review and meta-analysis
Stanley Clark is a community development volunteer and writer. He had worked on several commercials, events, and campaigns before writing full-time in the area of natural health and wellness. He has a particular interest in reviewing CBD brands for their safety and legitimacy. Interested in breaking the taboo about cannabis, Stanley believes in CBD’s potential for helping people and communities with their health and wellness concerns.