What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy describes damage to the peripheral nervous system within the brain and spinal cord, which transmits information to all other parts of the body. There are various types of peripheral neuropathy. Many are secondary to conditions including diabetes, certain autoimmune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, and Guillain-Barre syndrome – as well as infections including Lyme Disease, HIV, and Hepatitis B and C. Peripheral neuropathy may also be caused by alcoholism, nutritional deficiencies, exposure to poisons, or taking certain medications. It is a condition where the feet and legs are likely to be affected before the hands and arms.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy:
- Muscle weakness, most seen in the hands and feet
- Sweating and intolerance of high temperatures
- Extreme sensitivity to even the slightest touch
- Feeling as if you are wearing socks and gloves
- A burning, stabbing or tingling sensation
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Uncontrolled muscle twitching
- Feeling of pins and needles
- Numbness and/ or pain
How can acupuncture be used to treat peripheral Neuropathy?
Acupuncture has proven to be beneficial in the treatment of those suffering with peripheral neuropathy. It is taught in Traditional Chinese Medicine that dampness moves into the limbs, and obstructs the flow of Qi (energy) and blood, causing peripheral neuropathy. Acupuncture therapy involves treating both the underlying cause of the dampness accumulation and the release of the Qi and blood in the affected region. By restoring blood flow and improving circulation to damaged nerve tissues, acupuncture aids the body in repairing nerve function; thereby, reducing pain and other symptoms.
How many acupuncture treatments are needed to treat peripheral neuropathy?
The length, number and frequency of acupuncture treatments will vary. It depends upon several aspects such as the onset of peripheral neuropathy, the severity of the symptoms, as well as the cause of the condition. Another factor to consider is the modality of the treatment. Treatment sessions may last between 15 – 45 minutes. Your acupuncturist will recommend a specific number of treatments and the frequency of your treatment sessions. After which your progress will be evaluated, and the next course of action will be determined. It is imperative that the treatment plan be followed consistently and that there are no lengthy gaps in the treatment. This can cause regression in the body and delay the healing process. It is important to remember that the goal is to nourish and repair nerve damage, which takes time and discipline.
What lifestyle choices should be made to support optimal nerve health?
Adopting healthy habits is equally important when working towards resetting the body and reducing the physical and emotional impacts caused by nerve damage.
These healthy habits include:
- Proper Nutrition is vital to keep nerves healthy. Be sure to eat vegetables, fruits (in moderation), whole grains, and lean proteins. This helps to stabilize blood sugar levels and avoid spikes, which can worsen neuropathy symptoms. Including fish, eggs, and legumes helps to support vitamin B-12 deficiencies.
- Regular Exercise can reduce cramps and improve muscle strength. With approval from your doctor, try to get 30 minutes of exercise at least three times a week. Exercise can also help with your weight control and overall good feelings.
- Avoiding factors that may worsen nerve damage. If you are a smoker, consider quitting as smoking restricts the blood vessels that supply nutrients to the peripheral nerves. Alcohol consumption should be limited or even avoided as it exacerbates symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, and it causes spikes in blood sugar.
How can I schedule an acupuncture treatment with Essence Acupuncture & Wellness?
Come visit us in San Antonio, TX where we offer the best acupuncture and integrative medicine. We are conveniently located in Alamo Heights! Please do not hesitate to contact us at 210.236.5862 or you may schedule online here.
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