Acupuncture is an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine. It involves inserting tiny needles into your skin at a number of pressure points across the body. Acupuncture helps regulate the flow of energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”), within your body. This helps increase the body’s healing abilities. According to Western medicine, acupuncture helps activate the nerves and muscles, and hence the body’s response to pain becomes better as it improves the blood circulation. Acupuncture for nerve damage is an effective solution for people who suffer from various nerve conditions such as peripheral neuropathy.
Proponents of the Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, acupuncture controls the flow of a vital energy known as the ‘Qi;. Qi and blood travel along certain pathways known as meridians. In cases of peripheral neuropathy, there is a deficiency in Qi and blood. These can lead to a blockage along the affected meridians and pain occurs.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy? How Does Acupuncture Treat it?
What is Peripheral Neuropathy? It is a common neurologic condition that has an immense impact on the peripheral nerves. Do you suffer from peripheral neuropathy? The only way to find out is to be mindful of the symptoms. The common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are weakness, numbness, and pain. The pain usually starts from the hands and feet but can affect some of the other areas of the body. People experience tiny jabs of pain more commonly known as ‘pins and needles’, especially at night in their hands or feet, also other parts of the body. This is not all, there are other symptoms such as paralysis, muscle wasting, or organ dysfunction.
You can have peripheral neuropathy because of a number of conditions such as thyroid issues, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, alcoholism, vitamin (B12) deficiency, exposure to certain toxins such as heavy metals, AIDS, inflammatory or ischemic disease, chemotherapy drugs, and certain types of cancer. It is said that at least 20% of people with cancer will develop peripheral neuropathy. A tumor pressing on a nerve or a tumor growing inside a nerve can lead to this condition. Certain chemotherapy drugs administered in high doses may also lead to peripheral nerves. Radiation therapy is said to injure nerves.
The pain and numbness could be hard to endure, but there is hope in the form of acupuncture for peripheral neuropathy treatment. Multiple studies have substantiated the efficacy of acupuncture in treating peripheral neuropathy. While the acupuncturist carries his/her treatment process, the acupuncturist finds out all about the deficiencies leading to blockages, affecting the flow of meridians.
An Acupuncturist, while carrying out the treatment asks a lot of questions such as perspiration, sleep, diet and exercise patterns; and the type of pain endured by you. The practitioner checks the pulse and your tongue too. After an elaborate examination, the acupuncturist plans out the treatment protocol. Every person has unique health problems and the treatment too is customised to his/her health condition. The practitioner may also take your pulse and observe the tongue. This interview and physical examination will help your acupuncturist create a treatment plan specifically for you. Each patient is treated according to his or her specific and unique health conditions.
How long is your acupuncture treatment going to last? Well, it all depends on various factors such as the cause, symptoms and your overall health condition. Usually treatments last for 30 to 60 minutes, atleast once or twice a week. You can feel the difference in the first treatment schedule; however, in people with severe health conditions, they may require more than one treatment schedule. Acupuncture does not only help the condition, it also heals and restore the sense of wellness. It can treat both the physical and emotional effects of peripheral neuropathy.
Acupuncture Treatment for Neuropathy
Latest research shows up conclusive evidence that acupuncture has been able to treat various symptoms of acupuncture. As little as 6 weeks of acupuncture treatment can provide relief to neuropathy, owing to chemotherapy. The study also mentioned that 86% people felt significant improvement in their neuropathy symptoms.
Patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy also reported significant improvement, with the efficacy-rate graph going from 8% to 90%, especially when acupuncture was added to the treatment protocol. Things took a turn for the better in the disability score as well. Compared to other conventional treatments, acupressure helps in providing a great leap of improvement.
Even if neuropathy stems from an unknown source, acupuncture is indeed a great help. It not only improves the quality of life, that is less use of painkillers and better sleep qualities, but also improvement in general health as well. This fact has been substantiated by nerve conduction studies (NCS).
The bottom-line is that if you have been suffering from the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, acupuncture will help treat it, irrespective of the cause. What’s more, it will also significantly improve the quality of life.
How Does Acupuncture Come to Your Rescue?
Acupuncture not only treats peripheral neuropathy, but also helps control a number of everyday issues such as back pain, headaches, and joint pain. It treats your neurological and digestive disorder symptoms such as:
Acupuncture Benefits and Risks
Acupuncture helps relieve discomfort. The point is you may find it scary, especially when you set your eyes on the needles. But there is nothing to worry really, as these are inserted into your body lightly and are not painful at all. The needles help stimulate your nervous system. It helps release endorphins, also known as natural painkillers. It releases the happy hormones in the muscles, brain and spine. This transforms your body’s response to pain.
Even though acupuncture has so many myths surrounding it, the point is, it is effective and has little to no risk if performed by a licensed professional. It has some side-effects though, which you need to keep a strict tab on, especially when the acupuncturist does not have the suitable credentials.
Pain and bruising: You may experience a little bit of minor pain or discomfort at needle sites after an acupuncture treatment. You may even experience slight bleeding, although nominal.
Infection: Ensure your acupuncture needles are sterile. If a practitioner uses unsterilized needles or reuses old needles, you may be in for bigger trouble, even life-threatening diseases.
Most people can undergo acupuncture to treat various conditions. But there are some conditions that may lead to complications, such as the following,
Bleeding disorders: If you are suffering from a bleeding disorder or on blood thinner medications, your needle sites may take time to heal.
Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, you may not be a candidate for acupuncture treatment. It is necessary that you consult with your doctor before seeking alternative treatment. Some acupuncture techniques may even lead to early labor or premature delivery.
Heart issues: Acupuncture treatment often include techniques such as application of heat or electrical pulses to needles sites to help stimulate the nerve responses. If you are wearing a pacemaker, electrical currents may affect your device.
Other Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment Options
Acupuncture helps treat peripheral neuropathy, but there are other methods and home remedies so to speak, that can help control the symptoms better.
Regular exercise is great for your health, period. It helps increase blood circulation throughout your body and especially your arms and legs. Increased blood circulation not only helps with nerve damage but also helps diminish the pain. Exercise regulates blood sugar levels, helps in weight loss, and strengthens your body.
Reduce alcohol intake: Alcohol impacts your nerve health, and not in a good way. It may turn out to be one of the so called ‘hidden’ reasons to cause the onset of peripheral neuropathy.
You know that warm baths are extremely relaxing, but they also help soothe the neuropathic pain. The reason why warm water helps is because it is stimulating and increases blood circulation. As a result, pain symptoms decrease.
Outlook of Acupuncture Treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy
Acupuncture for nerve damage is in fact, a viable treatment option for someone who is especially looking for an alternative treatment, much removed from conventional treatment. If you believe in it, you will also find success with it. As you know it is not only the physical aspect of it, your mind has a lot to do in the healing aspect. When you decide it is going to be acupuncture for nerve pain and/or peripheral neuropathy, look for a qualified acupuncturist who has a proper license to boot. Talk with your acupuncturist about the symptoms and the causes. So that he/she knows exactly how to go about things. Also, while you are undergoing the treatment, let him/her know your pain threshold and whether you are experiencing any side-effects from the treatment.