Medicine
Fact Checked

How Effective is Acupuncture for Neuropathy?

Marisa O'Connor
Marisa O'Connor

Acupuncture for neuropathy is quite effective for treating symptoms. A number of studies have shown that acupuncture relieves pain and improves nerve function associated with neuropathy. Acupuncture for neuropathy has an advantage over traditional Western medicine in that it targets the whole body, mind, and spirit to restore health.

Neuropathy is a condition that results from damage to the nervous system. Diabetes, nerve trauma, and arthritis are some of the most common causes of neuropathy. It most often affects the hands and feet, causing numbness, muscle weakness, and burning or tingling sensations. Treatments vary from Western prescription medication to Chinese medicine such as acupuncture.

Acupuncture can help patients cope with symptoms, but it is not a cure.
Acupuncture can help patients cope with symptoms, but it is not a cure.

Acupuncture has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries. The belief behind it is that there is an energy flow through the body called Qi. It is also believed that the flow of blood and Qi is vital to human health. Diseases and illness are thought to be caused by a disruption in the flow of Qi. Acupuncture targets specific points in the body where the flow is being blocked. Several long needles are inserted at these points, and flow is restored.

Reflexology is another alternative treatment for neuropathy.
Reflexology is another alternative treatment for neuropathy.

Using acupuncture for neuropathy treatment has provided many people with pain relief. According to Chinese medicine, the pain and other symptoms of neuropathy are thought to be caused by too little energy, or Qi, in the nerves affected. This can be treated with acupuncture. A trained acupuncturist will target points that promote blood and Qi circulation, insert the acupuncture needles, and relieve symptoms.

Using acupuncture for neuropathy treatment has provided many people with pain relief.
Using acupuncture for neuropathy treatment has provided many people with pain relief.

One of the primary reasons many people choose acupuncture for neuropathy is that most other treatments have too many side effects. Generally speaking, acupuncture is very safe, but there are some risk factors and side effects that should be considered. The most common side effects experienced are a slight stinging sensation when the needle is inserted and a dull ache around the needle once it is in. Some experience deep relaxation or disorientation during the first couple of treatments. Occasionally, symptoms may appear to get worse a day or two after acupuncture, but this is believed to be a sign that the treatment is working.

Traditional Chinese healers have long used acupuncture techniques to relieve pain and strengthen nerve functions.
Traditional Chinese healers have long used acupuncture techniques to relieve pain and strengthen nerve functions.

The other major risk of acupuncture is if the acupuncturist makes a mistake. These instances are quite rare, but mistakes do happen and can have devastating consequences. If the needle is inserted too far, it can puncture a lung or cause nerve damage. Bleeding and bruising are milder risk factors of mistakes.

There are a few alternative treatments for neuropathy on the market. Antidepressants may be used for their effect on the central nervous system, relieving neurological pain from neuropathy. Another alternative treatment is reflexology. Reflexology is based on the principle that there are various pressure points in the hands and feet that correspond to different organs and parts of the body.

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Discussion Comments

turquoise

I tried acupuncture for neuropathic pain but it didn't work for me. I know that it works for a lot of people though, so I guess it's something that one has to try to see if it will be effective. I went for six sessions (two sessions per week), and I didn't see any difference in my symptoms after those three weeks.

I'm not sure if I needed to go for more sessions. I didn't continue because the sessions cost a lot and I figured that if it was going to work, it would have worked in that time frame.

stoneMason

@fBoyle-- I've been getting acupuncture therapy for diabetic neuropathy for a few months. Yes, it works!

Before I went for acupuncture, I had so many issues in my legs and feet. Sometimes I had pain, sometimes numbness, sometimes tingling. I also had a foot sore that would not heal. Acupuncture has treated the numbness and tingling and it has reduced my pain. My sore is also healing.

I highly recommend Chinese acupuncture for neuropathy. Make sure to find an experienced and licensed acupuncture practitioner.

fBoyle

I have diabetic neuropathy and medications are not working. I want to try acupuncture. Has anyone here tried acupuncture for neuropathy, specifically neuropathy caused by diabetes?

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    • Acupuncture can help patients cope with symptoms, but it is not a cure.
      By: photok21
      Acupuncture can help patients cope with symptoms, but it is not a cure.
    • Reflexology is another alternative treatment for neuropathy.
      By: Photographee.eu
      Reflexology is another alternative treatment for neuropathy.
    • Using acupuncture for neuropathy treatment has provided many people with pain relief.
      By: Alfred Wekelo
      Using acupuncture for neuropathy treatment has provided many people with pain relief.
    • Traditional Chinese healers have long used acupuncture techniques to relieve pain and strengthen nerve functions.
      By: idmanjoe
      Traditional Chinese healers have long used acupuncture techniques to relieve pain and strengthen nerve functions.
    • Acupuncture tends to have few side effects when used as a treatment for neuropathy.
      By: Max Tactic
      Acupuncture tends to have few side effects when used as a treatment for neuropathy.
    • Bleeding, feeling ill, and bruising are possible side effects of acupuncture.
      By: nextrecord
      Bleeding, feeling ill, and bruising are possible side effects of acupuncture.