A lot of people suffer from neuropathic pain, as a result of dysfunction or damage to the nervous system. One common form of neuropathy is peripheral neuropathy, which happens when the peripheral nervous system is affected. Various studies have been conducted, the most recent one in 2010 (Smith and Torrance), which concluded that it is still impossible to make an accurate estimation of the number of people in the country who are affected by this condition.
Those who suffer from neuropathy have a significantly reduced quality of life due to the associated pain, as well as due to the side effects of traditional pharmaceutical medicine. Fortunately, a possible alternative is acupuncture.
Acupuncture Treatment Overview
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Eastern medicine, whereby fine needles are inserted into key places in the top layer of the skin, where bodily energies are said to converge. The needles stimulate these points of the body, which can lead to different health conditions being improved, and pain can be alleviated.
How Does Acupuncture Work?
There have been a number of studies that have looked at the efficacy of this treatment for neuropathy caused by HIV infections, neuropathy that is chemically induced (such as following chemotherapy), and trigeminal neuralgia. Additionally, it is said to be beneficial for postherpetic neuralgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, cancer, sciatica, and diabetic neuropathy. It is believed that the insertion of needles can release life energy, or Qi. As a result, this stimulates the body's natural healing and regeneration process.
According to personal accounts and studies alike, the benefits of acupuncture include:
- Less hypersensitivity caused by ligation of the spinal nerve
- Inhibition of paclitaxel that was induced by hyperalgesia and/or allodynia through receptors in the spinal cord
- A positive influence on the signaling system's neurotrophic factor
- Changing the brain receptors such that sensitivity to stress and pain is reduced, while at the same time deactivating the 'analytical' brain and promoting relaxation, thereby reducing pain caused by worry and anxiety
- Release of more adenosine
- Improvement of joint mobility and muscle stiffness, thereby reducing swelling
- Decreasing the amount of inflammation
How quickly it will work will depend on the individual patient, the causes of the neuropathy, and its severity. In China, the technique is recommended for chronic pain and to be provided twice a week for five weeks at least.
How Long Does Relief Last?
Acupuncture works by stimulating energy lines, Qi, throughout the body. Energy will continue to flow, however, which means the results are not permanent. Usually, people find that the effects are noticeable very soon after their first treatment, but that those effects only last for a few days.
The more frequent they undergo the process, however, the longer the positive effects remain. Those who provide the procedure claim that it can provide immediate relief.
There have been numerous scientific studies on the link between acupuncture and reduced pain levels. In fact, the technique is perhaps one of the most studied non-conventional methods. It is also for this reason that, while still considered to be a form of traditional medicine, it is now recommended by many physicians.
- A 2010 study by Liu found that acupuncture could treat trigeminal neuralgia just as well as medication, but without the side effects.
- A 2011 study by Penza found that electro-acupuncture was not effective in treating chronic neuropathy.
- A 2010 study by Xu found that chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy responded better to acupuncture than to cobamamide.
- A 2008 study by Pan found that, when combined with acupoint injection, acupuncture was a more effective treatment than carbamezipine in occipital neuralgia.
Various other studies, completed between 1998 and 2011, have shown that it can be beneficial in treating neuropathic pain in patients with HIV/AIDS.
Common Side Effects
There are a number of side effects associated with acupuncture, including:
- Worsening of symptoms
- Muscle twitching
- Emotional release
Some mild soreness is common after treatment. Other side effects are a lot more rare. Either way, these side effects tend to be short-lived.
Is Acupuncture Right For You?
The studies into acupuncture and neuropathy are extensive, demonstrating that the treatment is often at least as effective as pharmaceutical drugs. What they lack, however, is a determination of which patients this form of treatment is most suitable for.
The cost varies greatly depending on where you live and who you go to. However, you can expect to pay between $30 and $50 for each individual session.
Where To Try Acupuncture
Acupuncture is quite common now, and you do not need a referral. By using the internet and other local directories, you should be able to find a clinic near you. Do make sure that you look into external, unbiased reviews of the clinic to make sure they deliver a high quality service.
Most methods for treating neuropathy are based on the use of pharmaceutical drugs. The most popular are tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). Sometimes, serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are also offered.
Alternatively, patients can try topical medications, opiate-like drugs, and opiate painkillers. Only between 30% and 50% of patients respond positively to such medication, and most experience substantial side effects. As a result, natural methods like TENS or Nerve Renew Neuropathy Support Formula tend to be effective.
Other options include:
Although acupuncture is considered to be a form of "traditional" and "complimentary" medicine, it has been subjected to a wealth of scientific studies, most of which have shown that it is indeed beneficial, often more so than pharmaceutical and conventional drugs.
It is believed that it makes the central nervous system release a different neuro-chemical messenger molecule through stimulation. When used in combination with another complementary therapy, like the ingredients in Nerve Renew, it may be able to provide long lasting relief, as it addresses a variety of other health processes within the body.