Peripheral neuropathy is a neurological condition in which the nerves that enervate the extremities are damaged. There are two types of nerves, sensory nerves and motor nerves. Mostly the sensory nerves are affected giving rise to tingling and numbness sensation in hands and feet. Movement of the person is affected when there is a lesion in motor nerve.
There are several reasons known to cause peripheral neuropathy such as trauma, diabetes, leprosy, vitamin deficiencies etc. Generally peripheral neuropathy improves with time. Results are promising when the underlying condition is treatable.
Besides the use of medicines, there are number of other natural methods to treat peripheral neuropathy.One such effective alternative treatment is acupuncture. But before knowing how effective acupuncture is for treating peripheral neuropathy, let us find out the causes and how to identify its symptoms.
Causes Of Peripheral Neuropathy
The etiology in at least 40% of the patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy is not known. Several factors are known to cause peripheral neuropathy and they are;
- Diabetes: peripheral neuropathy is a prominent symptom in patient whose blood sugar is poorly controlled.
- Vitamin B12 deficiency is another factor for development in peripheral neuropathy.
- Post herpetic neuralgia is also common cause for peripheral neuropathy.
- Alcoholism: people taking alcohol regularly are prone to peripheral neuropathy.
- Autoimmune diseases; SLE, Polyarteritis nodosa, rheumatoid arthritis etc.
- Traumatic injury where the peripheral nerves are damaged can result in peripheral neuritis.
- Kidney disease, liver disease and hypothyroidism can also cause peripheral neuropathy.
- Viral infections such as HIV, Hepatitis C.
Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms
Clinical picture of peripheral neuropathy consists of sensory, motor, and autonomic disturbances. Sensory nerves receive the sensation of pain, heat, touch etc. Motor nerves control movement of muscles and autonomic nerves control blood pressure, heart rate, bladder function etc.
Sensory symptoms include: pain, burning and light band like sensation. Extreme sensitivity to touch, even light touch seems to be painful.
Motor symptoms include: muscle cramps, muscle weakness, wasting, tremor, and fasciculation etc.
Autonomic symptoms include: fainting spells, reduced or excess sweating, sexual dysfunction, anorexia, nausea indicates gastroparesis.
Acupuncture Treatment For Peripheral Neuropathy
There are several conventional medicines to treat peripheral neuropathy. This may include prescription medications such as antidepressants, anti epileptics, etc. Acupuncture is an alternative and effective therapy for improvement in nerve conduction in patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy. In this therapy, fine needles are inserted in the skin at specific points along what are considered to be lines of energy (meridians).
The system has originated in china. It is used to alleviate pain and it can also increase the immune response by balancing the flow of vital life throughout the body. By an estimate, at least 50 to 60 % of patients with chronic pain receive temporary relief when treated with acupuncture. While some patients experience long term relief as well.
Though there is a debate of its effectiveness among scientific fraternity beyond that of a placebo, it should not matter whether the effects are physical or merely psychological as long as the patient feels better. Acupuncture treatment should be continued for weeks and months for better results. The time interval also depends on severity of the symptoms.
Needles are inserted at specific points on the surface of body on both sides, in peripheral neuropathy. The points are located on hands or on the feet. It also depends which area has become numb.