Updated: Aug 25, 2022
What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy, also called Peripheral neuropathy, is damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves that typically results in numbness, tingling, muscle weakness, and pain in the affected area. Neuropathies frequently start in your hands and feet, but other parts of your body can be affected as well.
The peripheral nervous system is made up of nerves outside your brain and spinal cord. Damage to this system can result in neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain is often referred to as "peripheral" because it originates outside your central nervous system.
Common causes of neuropathy are traumatic injuries, infections, vitamin deficiencies or over-supplementation, autoimmune diseases, metabolic problems, and exposure to toxins (such as chemotherapy drugs). But one of the most common causes is diabetes.
What are the Symptoms of Neuropathy?
Neuropathies come on suddenly or develop gradually over many years. Symptoms depend on the type of nerves affected and the location of the nerve.
1. Numbness, tingling, burning, and pain
Damage to sensory nerves can cause many different symptoms. Spontaneous sensations—known as paresthesias—include numbness, tingling, pins, and needles, prickling, burning, coldness, pinching, sharp pain, or deep stabs in the affected area. Sensations can be unpleasant or abnormal as well; for example, you may have dysesthesias—the lessening or absence of sensation caused by touching an object or experiencing other stimuli. Or you may not notice that you've been burned or cut yourself because anesthesia has set in (this is called anesthetic failure).
2. Inability to sense movement, action, and location (Absence of Proprioception)
The absence of proprioception (position sense) causes problems with coordination, balance, and body awareness. The "glove and stocking sensation" occurs when you feel like you are wearing stockings or gloves of some sort even when your hands and feet are bare. This symptom is often accompanied by other symptoms related to proprioception such as the feeling that you have wide-set feet or have crouched down to keep your balance when standing upright.
Motor nerve damage can cause weakness and foot symptoms to include foot dropping or lagging behind, while leg symptoms include difficulty walking or running and the feeling of heaviness – it takes most of your strength just to climb the stairs – as well as stumbling or becoming tired easily. Muscle cramps may be common in people with this condition, especially in their arms. In the arms, difficulties with carrying a load of groceries, opening jars, turning door knobs, or even combing their hair, and dropping things you are holding because you have a weak grip become more common.
4. Other Symptoms
In addition to the symptoms listed above, damage to autonomic nerves can cause difficulty breathing, heart problems, dizziness when standing up, constipation, bladder dysfunction, and/or diarrhea. Sexual dysfunction may occur along with reduced or inability to sweat and thinning of the skin. Bruising is also common among people with this condition, as well as poor healing of wounds.
Acupuncture for Neuropathy
Getting acupuncture treatments for neuropathy helps decrease or eliminate your symptoms and also to regain your quality of life.
Acupuncture for neuropathy helps increase blood circulation directly to your peripheral nerves. Acupuncture needles placed at the right points send a message to your brain that tells it to move more blood to your nerves and specific organs. This will then result in decreased inflammation and improved nutrient delivery to your peripheral nerves.
Acupuncture for neuropathy also helps retrain your brain to self-heal your body. The acupuncture treatments reboot your nervous system by sending your brain a program for self-healing. This helps reestablish the connection between your brain and your peripheral nerves. Self-healing occurs when your brain is once again communicating with your peripheral nerves.
Although peripheral neuropathy can improve with effective treatment of the underlying condition causing nerve problems, many people experience more persistent pain. While medications can help manage symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, they do not stall the course of the disease — and some have nasty side effects. Those with peripheral neuropathy who have tried all other methods should try acupuncture to get relief from their pain.
We at 7 Sages Acupuncture and Herbs understand peripheral neuropathy. We've help many patients overcome this debilitating condition...and without invasive surgery or medications that come with a slew of severe side effects. If you or someone you know have tried it all only to be disappointed by the lack of results, give our office a call to schedule your initial consultation.