Acupuncture for Neuropathy
For some people it is experienced as the uncomfortable sensation of "pins and needles" or burning pain (especially at night) of their hands or feet. Others may suffer even more extreme symptoms such as muscle wasting, paralysis, or organ or gland dysfunction.
With more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathies in existence, each with its own characteristic set of symptoms, pattern of development, and prognosis, the symptoms can vary as much as the cause. Nevertheless, Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition that can be treated with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy describes damage to the peripheral nervous system, which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to every other part of the body.
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.
It is a syndrome which includes symptoms of numbness, tingling, pricking sensations, sensitivity to touch, burning pain, and muscle weakness and atrophy of the arms and legs. The feet and legs are likely to be affected before the hands and arms.
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
These symptoms are often worse at night.
Many people have signs of neuropathy upon examination but have no symptoms at all.
How can acupuncture treat peripheral neuropathy?
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. By improving the circulation, the nerve tissues of the affected area can be nourished to repair the nerve functions and reduce pain.
Peripheral neuropathy is a symptom for many different patterns of disharmony within the body. Oriental Medicine aims to treat each individual uniquely depending on what caused the neuropathy and how it manifests.
Your acupuncturist may do an interview and ask questions about how, what, where and when you feel pain, perspire, sleep, eat, drink and exercise, to name a few. The practitioner may also feel the pulse and observing the tongue. This interview and physical examination will help create a clear picture on which your practitioners can create a treatment plan specifically for you.
In addition to acupuncture, other methods such as transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS), which uses small amounts of electricity to block pain signals, cutaneous acupuncture, herbal and physical therapy may be combined to achieve faster results.
Acupuncture for Neuropathy is available at Medical Acupuncture in Pittsburgh, call for your appointment.
By Diane Joswick LAc