Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition that affects the peripheral nervous system, which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to every other part of the body. The syndrome includes symptoms of numbness, tingling, sensitivity to touch, burning pain, and muscle weakness and atrophy of the arms and legs. Peripheral neuropathy is usually secondary to other conditions, such as: diabetes, lupus, AIDS, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Physical trauma has also been shown as a precursor to this painful and chronic condition. It is estimated that over 14% of Americans, approximately 41.5 million people, are afflicted by peripheral neuropathy, though a large number of those people will go undiagnosed and untreated. This is partially due to the fact that symptoms of peripheral neuropathy often only appear at night, leading most people to disregard their numbness and muscle weakness as symptoms of “getting older.”
Another common cause is chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. This type of neuropathy includes a variety of symptoms, such as paresthesia, pain, and muscle weakness. While the incidence of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy varies greatly on the individualized chemotherapy regimen, duration and exposure, it is estimated that 38% of patients will be diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy after receiving chemotherapy.
A recent blind study showed that patients who received acupuncture, along with their prescribed prescriptions, saw a 36% reduction in pain. Another pilot study showed that 5 out 6 chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy patients, treated with acupuncture, had improved nerve condition versus just the 20% of patients in the control group, who saw improvement.
With the population of peripheral neuropathic patients steadily increasing, more research is being funded for a cure. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends an ancient, but highly successful treatment regime – Acupuncture, which helps to relieve pain and to repair the nerves damaged by peripheral neuropathy.
How Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine can help
Traditional Chinese medicine teaches that peripheral neuropathy is caused by the restriction of blood to areas of the body. Acupuncture helps with the nerve damage caused by this disease, by stimulating blood circulation back to the affected areas. With increased oxygen now being delivered to the damaged nerves, the body will start to exert a neuroprotective action that will initiate nerve repair. Also, the increased blood flow throughout the body, prompts the nervous system to release endorphins, your body’s natural painkiller, in the muscles, spine and brain.
This technique regulates various neurotransmitters to reduce inflammation and pain. Acupuncture has also been shown to improve physiological parameters of the nerve, such as the nerve conduction velocity (ability to transmit signals or impulses).
What does an acupuncturist do?
An acupuncturist will do a full interview to determine how, what, where and when a patient feels pain. This, along with a physical examination, will help create a clear picture for the practitioner to create an individualized treatment plan. In the treatment of peripheral neuropathy, an acupuncturist will focus on the affected areas as well as other points on various parts of the body – in order to treat the disease, not just the symptoms.
What is out of balance?
The damage caused by peripheral neuropathy can be extensive and life-altering. Acupuncture can decrease and potentially remove the painful symptoms caused by this disease by helping to place the body back in alignment. The human body needs blood, oxygen, flowing continuously throughout our limbs and organs to ensure a healthy system. Since peripheral neuropathy restricts this movement, our body needs help to align itself back. This is why Acupuncture is used - to support and enhance the body’s natural healing mechanisms.
To better understand how our clinic can assist with the treatment of peripheral neuropathy, call to schedule your free consultation.