Peripheral neuropathy, a result of nerve damage, often causes numbness and pain in your hands and feet. People typically describe the pain of peripheral neuropathy as tingling or burning, while they may compare the loss of sensation to the feeling of wearing a thin stocking or glove.
Peripheral neuropathy can result from problems such as traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems and exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes is diabetes. It’s not always easy to pinpoint the cause of peripheral neuropathy, because a number of factors can cause neuropathies.
These factors include:
- Alcoholism and poor diet choices
- Autoimmune diseases
- Exposure to poisons
- Certain viral and bacterial infections
- Inherited disorders – Examples include Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and amyloid polyneuropathy
- Trauma or pressure on the nerve
- Traumas, such as motor vehicle accidents, falls or sports injuries, can sever or damage peripheral nerves
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Other diseases – Kidney disease, liver disease and an under active thyroid (hypothyroidism) also can cause peripheral neuropathy
Most commonly, peripheral neuropathy starts in the longest nerves — the ones that reach to your toes. Symptoms vary, depending on which types of nerves are affected. Signs and symptoms may include:
- Gradual onset of numbness and tingling in your feet or hands, which may spread upward into your legs and arms
- Burning pain
- Sharp, jabbing or electric-like pain
- Extreme sensitivity to touch, even light touch
- Lack of coordination
- Muscle weakness or paralysis if motor nerves are affected
- Bowel or bladder problems if autonomic nerves are affected
Can Acupuncture treat Neuropathy?
It is important to note that Western medicine does not currently have an effective treatment for peripheral neuropathy. However, many conditions which do not benefit from Western medical treatment can be helped with acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Peripheral neuropathy is due to obstruction of the Qi (energy) and blood. Acupuncture works by treating the person as a whole, balancing body, mind and spirit and allowing the body to do what it needs to do to heal itself. Acupuncture helps remove blocks, repairs nerves damaged, assists the body focus on increasing energy in areas of deficiency, and helps the patient be more present and focused.
Acupuncture often brings immediate relief, especially when there is pain. It will take a series of treatments for the feeling and strength to come back completely. In general, acupuncture works by improving the health of a person and bringing the body into balance so that it can heal itself.
Acupuncture helps peripheral neuropathy by improving the circulation and moving blood to the extremities. The nerve tissues can be nourished and nerve function can be improved. Acupuncture helps the body to stay in balance and will provide long lasting effects.