According to Chinese tradition, acupuncture helps balance the flow of energy, or qi (pronounced “chee”), within your body. This new energy balance stimulates the body’s healing abilities. From the point of view of Western medicine, acupuncture stimulates the nerves and muscles. This helps boost the body’s response to pain, and improves blood circulation.
Acupuncture is commonly used to treat headaches, back pain and joint pain. It’s also used to treat neurological disorder symptoms. Your peripheral nervous system connects the nerves from your brain and spinal cord, or central nervous system, to the rest of your body. The job of these nerves is to deliver signals about physical sensations back to your brain.
Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder that occurs when these nerves malfunction because they’re damaged or destroyed. This disrupts the nerves’ normal functioning. They might send signals of pain when there’s nothing causing pain, or they might not send a pain signal even if something is harming you.The disorder is uncomfortable, but treatments can be very helpful. The most important thing to determine is whether peripheral neuropathy is the result of a serious underlying condition.
There are three types of peripheral nerves are:
- sensory nerves, which connect to your skin
- motor nerves, which connect to your muscles
- autonomic nerves, which connect to your internal organs
Peripheral neuropathy can affect one nerve group or all three.
The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include:
- tingling in the hands or feet
- a feeling like you’re wearing a tight glove or sock
- sharp, stabbing pains
- numbness in the hands or feet
- a weak, heavy feeling in the arms and legs, which sometimes may feel like your legs or arms lock in place
- regularly dropping things from your hands
- a buzzing or shocking sensation
- a drop in blood pressure
- sexual dysfunction, especially in men
- digestive difficulty
- excessive sweating
The needles used in acupuncture are inserted into your body’s acupoints to stimulate the nervous system. This releases endorphins, your body’s natural painkillers, in the muscles, spine, and brain. This technique changes your body’s response to pain.Many people with neuropathy turn to acupuncture to relieve their chronic pain. Acupuncture also stimulates blood flow to restore nerve damage.
Though research is still being done to test the effectiveness of acupuncture on peripheral neuropathy, there have been some successful studies.In 2007, a pilot study confirmed that acupuncture as an alternative treatment improved symptoms for more neuropathic patients than those receiving traditional medical care.