Learning About Acupuncture for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN)

Acupuncture for diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN)

acupunctureOne of the many problems that come with worsening uncontrolled diabetes is nerve pain. This type of pain is caused by nerve damage from having high blood sugars long term. It can occur all over the body, but it is most common in the feet. This pain has been described as tingling sensations, or sharp jabbing, and burning pain. Skin can become more sensitive in the area and cause pain even from a gentle touch. The pain may range from mild to extreme in different people. It can cause significant problems in quality of life when severe. There are many different types of medicines that may be used to treat neuropathy, but there are often many side effects

Acupuncture has been used for centuries for the treatment of pain. The method is believed to have originated in China and is dated up to 2,500 years old. It has been used for many different conditions including the management of pain, but the way it works is still a mystery. The idea of acupuncture is that it uses certain points on the human body called “pressure points”, and is thought to affect the natural flow of energy within the human body. There are almost 2,000 different points on the body that can be used and that number is still increasing. Ancient Chinese believed that the human body is connected through energy channels which run to every cell and organ. By controlling these channels, one can distribute energy to where it is needed and will then help with the disease.

In an acupuncture session, very thin hair-like iron needles are inserted into different locations for up to 20 minutes. The needles will then be twirled, heated, or given electric stimulus. A little pain may be felt when the needle enters the skin but there is none once the needle is in the skin. Many people that get acupuncture therapy say it is relaxing during the session and there is generally no discomfort. Most individuals have sessions once a week for up to several weeks depending on the condition.

There is some data to support the use of acupuncture for decreasing pain from neuropathy and potentially decreasing the need for pain medications. Acupuncture is safe to try in addition to medications without adding any side effects. With its short treatment length, acupuncture may be worth exploring for nerve pain relief.

This article is brought to you by our guest writers:
Christopher Li, PharmD Candidate 2015, School of Pharmacy-Boston, MCPHS University
Jennifer Goldman-Levine, PharmD, CDE, BC-ADM, FCCP, Professor of Pharmacy Practice, School of Pharmacy-Boston, MCPHS University, Boston MA, Clinical Pharmacist, Well Life Medical, Peabody MA

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