Peripheral neuropathy is an increasingly common condition caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system, lack of blood flow to the nerves, and a disruption of the signaling between the brain and other parts of the body. This condition mainly affects the hands and feet, resulting in numbness, weakness, and loss of function. Peripheral neuropathy affects nearly 20 million people in the United States, yet there is a huge lack of effective treatment options available. Fortunately, this is where acupuncture excels. With its ability to help around 75% of cases, it is the go-to treatment for patients struggling with peripheral neuropathy.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:
pins and needles sensation
loss of fine motor skills
loss of balance
There are 3 main types of peripheral neuropathy - 1) idiopathic (no known cause), 2) diabetic neuropathy (side-effect of diabetes), and 3) chemotherapy-induced neuropathy (due to the side-effects of chemo treatments). Idiopathic neuropathy is usually caused by poor blood flow, spinal conditions, or autoimmune disorders affecting the nerves in the hands, arms, legs, and feet. This type of neuropathy typically responds to acupuncture the quickest. With diabetic neuropathy (affecting 30% of diabetics over 40), chronically elevated glucose levels damage the small blood vessels that supply the nerves of your body, preventing the essential nutrients from reaching the nerves. While addressing blood sugar is important, stimulating blood flow with acupuncture is what will help this condition really improve. Chemo-induced neuropathy is caused by the side-effects of toxic chemo drugs which cause nerve cell damage. While this can take time to treat, the results can be very rewarding.
Acupuncture works to treat peripheral neuropathy by facilitating blood and nutrients into the damaged nerves to help them heal. It also improves nerve signaling, allowing the brain to communicate messages to the damaged areas of the body. The treatment of peripheral neuropathy is cumulative, and an initial series of 8-12 treatments is required to wake up these nerves and improve blood flow. Maintenance treatments may be recommended every 2-4 weeks as needed. If you are struggling with peripheral neuropathy, acupuncture may be just the solution you've been looking for!