Neuropathy is a debilitating condition in which the peripheral nerves become damaged. These nerves, which are responsible for transmitting signals from the skin, limbs, and organs, can contribute to widespread neuropathic pain. The nerve pain caused by neuropathy is unique and horrible, with tingling, numbness, and weakness in the affected limbs and/or extremities. If you’re tired of suffering from nerve pain and looking for alternative therapies, you may be wondering, can acupuncture help neuropathy patients, and, if so, how?
Acupuncture has a regulatory effect on the nervous system, and works to modulate nerve function. Neuropathy patients benefit from regular acupuncture sessions, which improve circulation, promote relaxation, and offer all-natural pain relief.
How does acupuncture help neuropathy patients?
Acupuncture works on multiple levels to address neuropathy pain. For starters, acupuncture has a modulating effect on the nervous system, which can help calm hyperactive nerve signals and help restore normal nerve function to alleviate neuropathy symptoms.
As each needle is inserted, this stimulates the autonomic nervous system, which is the part of the nervous system that controls involuntary functions, like heart rate and digestion. Gently stimulating the nervous system helps your body re-learn how to receive and transmit signals, and this can have a dramatic effect on numbness and tingling.
The balancing effects of acupuncture offer natural stress relief. As needles are inserted, they cause the muscles to twitch, releasing pent-up tension that you may’ve been carrying for weeks. This physical reduction in stress has a biofeedback effect, triggering a reduction in mental and emotional stress as well.
On top of this, acupuncture helps fight pain. By improving circulation to the needle site, acupuncture ushers in a flood of red blood cells and oxygen. The body relies on these materials to regenerate damaged tissues. This increase in blood flow brings essential nutrients to dysfunctional nerve endings, where the body can make repairs.
Because acupuncture improves circulation, it also fights inflammation. Better blood flow allows the body to detox the damaged tissues, moving pro-inflammatory cells, like cytokines, away from the area. Reducing inflammation naturally leads to a reduction in pain as well.
It’s worth noting, too, that acupuncture has a beneficial effect on serotonin production. This “happy hormone” is what helps us stay calm, optimistic, and relaxed. By upregulating serotonin activity in the brain, acupuncture makes neuropathy pain much more manageable.
What can you expect during an acupuncture session?
During your acupuncture session, your acupuncturist will inquire about your health history. Understanding the cause of your neuropathy symptoms will help them treat you effectively. Once your acupuncturist has pinpointed the root cause of your pain, they’ll create a treatment strategy designed specifically for you.
Next, needles will be placed at various points across your body. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and any potential underlying dysfunction, the needles may be left in place for 10 to 40 minutes. In some cases, the needles may stay in for up to an hour. During this time, you’ll be advised to relax as the needles gently stimulate your nervous system.
When the session is over, the needles will be removed, and you can continue with your day. Your acupuncturist may advise you to avoid exercise after your session to give your muscles and nerves a chance to recover. Alternatively, you may be given a series of stretches or corrective exercises to enhance the effects of the therapy.
How many acupuncture sessions are needed for neuropathy pain?
How many sessions you’ll need to treat your neuropathy symptoms depends on many factors, including the severity of your symptoms and how long you’ve been suffering from them. Generally speaking, the more severe the symptoms, the more treatments you’ll need. That said, many patients notice an improvement in their symptoms after a single acupuncture session. And the benefits of one acupuncture session can last for weeks.
In a study, patients with spinal cord injuries saw a significant improvement in their neuropathic symptoms after undergoing bi-weekly sessions for a period of 6 weeks. This protocol is a great starting point for many patients. Acupuncture is often most effective when the patient begins with an initial round of treatments, followed by monthly tune-ups.
The precise number of acupuncture sessions you’ll need to treat your neuropathy symptoms may vary. Your acupuncturist will help you determine how often you’ll need acupuncture to address your neuropathy and improve your strength, flexibility, and functionality.
Is acupuncture alone enough to treat neuropathy symptoms?
Acupuncture is a holistic practice that has been used for centuries to treat a broad spectrum of ailments, from tendonitis and muscle knots to pinched nerves and migraines. When it comes to treating neuropathy pain, acupuncture is a wonderful place to start.
But depending on your symptoms, acupuncture may be more effective when used in tandem with other holistic therapies. Electrostimulation, for instance, has been found to have analgesic effects for neuropathic pain. Alternating electrostimulation sessions with acupuncture sessions can compound the benefits of each treatment, allowing you to experience the best of both worlds.
Cupping is also beneficial for neuropathy patients. This treatment, which involves placing cups onto the skin and using them to create a vacuum, reduces inflammation making it easier for neuropathy patients to cope with their pain naturally, without having to rely on pain medications. Cupping has also proven itself to be a promising treatment for carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition caused by compression neuropathy.
Because neuropathy can be caused by a variety of factors, including diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and traumatic injuries, creating a treatment plan that utilizes a variety of holistic strategies will help you maximize your chances of success.
Booking an appointment
Neuropathy pain can make every day difficult. But you don’t have to just accept it. At Lycoming Orthopedic & Sports Acupuncture, we’re dedicated to helping each of our patients improve their quality of life.
Contact our office today to learn more about the variety of treatment options we have to offer, and how they can improve your symptoms. When you book an appointment with us, we’ll work with you to achieve your health goals, from your very first visit.
Get started on your wellness journey today so you can finally find relief from your debilitating neuropathy symptoms.