Natural Living: Acupuncture treats peripheral neuropathy

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Peripheral neuropathy has become a more prominent complaint by many who suffer from varying conditions such as diabetes, spinal injuries, alcoholism, HIV, vitamin deficiencies and from adverse side-effects of specific drugs, most notably chemotherapy drugs. This debilitating condition can cause such symptoms as feeling like walking on glass, severe burning, numbness and tingling, weakness and flaccidity of the muscles which can lead to further injury.

This neurological disorder is caused by the abnormal functioning of the sensory, motor and/or autonomic nerves. Peripheral neuropathy typically affects the extremities, including the arms, legs, hands and feet. The time of day and one’s activity level can affect the frequency of the symptoms with this neuropathic condition. Some people may experience symptoms throughout the day, but have increased sensations in the evenings. Typically, applying pressure (such as from walking) will significantly aggravate the condition. There are many other factors that can exacerbate this condition such as stress. When treating this condition it’s important to treat the whole body for successful abatement of this disease.

Most people believe once the nerve fibers are damaged they can’t heal and so most people take pain relieving medication or drugs that specifically affect the nerves such as Lyrica or Neurontin. At best these treatments may help manage the pain, however they don’t help the regeneration of the nerves. Research shows the body does indeed have the ability to regenerate nerves. A lizard can regenerate nerves after the loss of an appendage and can actually recreate the extremity. Much of the human skeleton and nerve makeup maintains the ancient segmental pattern present in all vertebrates such as a lizard.

Numerous research has been published the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment for peripheral neuropathy some of which include the European Journal of Neurology, JAMA, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and of course numerous studies in China. A study published in “Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology” showed electro-acupuncture was effective for regenerating nerve cells in rats who had experienced spinal cord injuries. The researchers reported electro-acupuncture restored partial function to paralyzed limbs in the injured rats. In a 10-week study conducted by the European Journal of Neurology patients were treated with acupuncture at determined points as determined by the practitioner. Patients had symptom relief as well as improved nerve conduction over the course of treatment, leading the researchers of the study to speculate acupuncture causes nerves to regenerate.

Peripheral neuropathy is considered a chronic disease which involves diligent and consistent therapy to help the patient recover. Traditional Chinese medicine can help improve symptoms and offer people with peripheral neuropathy a better quality of life over time. Treatment of neuropathy should be considered as a long-term therapy and not just a short course of 10 sessions, as is usually implied with acupuncture.


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