Can Acupuncture Help with Neuropathy?
Neuropathy can range from annoying to outright debilitating. If you’ve been suffering from neuropathy, and you’ve seen a doctor about it, you’ve likely been through a lot already!
If you don’t like the medications, or are tired of constantly feeling this way, keep reading.
What is Neuropathy Really Like?
Neuropathy can mean a lot of different things, which means patient’s don’t often know when they have neuropathy. They just think, ‘My feet hurt all the time,” or, “My doctor told me I have nerve damage in my feet/hands/etc.,” or, ‘I don’t know why but my hands/feet are just numb all the time.
Symptoms can include:
- Leg or Foot Pain or Numbness
- Hand Pain or Numbness
- Burning Pain
- Pins and Needles Pain
- Electrical Pain
- Stabbing Pain
- Sensitive Skin
- Dizziness/Loss of Balance
- Increased Risk of Falling
Sound bad? It really can be! Most people think neuropathy means you have feelings of numbness. It can also mean you are in a lot of PAIN, or you have weird sensations instead of feeling “normal.” In the early stages, it isn’t debilitating, but it something you are always aware of, and it is *draining* to have those odd sensations all the time.
On top of that “numb” means different things to different people. For some people, it means a type of pins and needles sensation, and for others, it feels like the body is deadened in certain areas. A lot of patients explain it as feeling like cardboard, or someone else’s body when they touch those areas.
Most of our patient talk about how annoying and frustrating it is to have your body feeling differently than it is supposed to be feeling. They also talk about how *draining* it is to be aware of that all the time.
Common medications used to treat neuropathy include Neurontin, Gabapentin, Neurontin, Cymbalta, and Lyrica. Many patients cannot easily tolerate these drugs because of their side effects.
What Causes Neuropathy?
Neuropathy has many causes from a Western medicine perspective. Sometimes we can point to a reason for the neuropathy, but sometimes we just call it “idiopathic,” which essentially means, “Your guess is as good as mine.”
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Heredity Disorders
- Idiopathic Neuropathy (literally means “we don’t know!”)
- Inflammatory/Infectious Causes
- Medication Side Effects
- Kidney Failure
- Vitamin or Nutritional Deficiency
From a more global perspective, despite the many causes, lack of proper blood flow to the nerves or chronic inflammation in the nerves is a commonality between many types of neuropathy. That is because a lot of these causes and conditions ultimately limit blood flow or reduce the quality of the blood flowing through the veins. These issues compromise the health of the nerves, ultimately.
That results in numbness or pain, or unusual and annoying sensations in the nerves.
Can Acupuncture Help?
So what can be done about neuropathy from a holistic health perspective? We can work to improve blood flow and reduce inflammation and release any nerve entrapments. Why does this work?
Think about our blood vessels as the highways in the body. Supplies travel on those highways. If there is a traffic accident, or a bridge collapses, supplies can’t get where they need to go, and Emergency Medical Services can’t arrive. Tissue health suffers when this is the case.
It turns out that acupuncture is really good at improving blood flow, which also helps manage inflammation (see study below).
So if you suffer from neuropathy, and have never tried acupuncture this might be the time!
Evaluation of the effects of acupuncture on blood flow in humans with ultrasound color Doppler imaging. https://www.pubfacts.com/detail/22778772/Evaluation-of-the-effects-of-acupuncture-on-blood-flow-in-humans-with-ultrasound-color-Doppler-imagi