Acupuncture for Neuropathy: Benefits and Risks

What is acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a component of traditional Chinese medicine. During acupuncture, tiny needles are inserted into the skin at various pressure points across the body.

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 and digestive disorder symptoms like:

  • facial tics
  • neck pain
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • inflammation
  • muscle stiffness
Acupuncture for neuropathy

Acupuncture is a technique used to treat pain and relieve discomfort.

The needles used in acupuncture are inserted into your body’s pressure points 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.

Risks of acupuncture treatment

Acupuncture carries little to no risk if performed by a licensed professional.

Side effects may include:

  • Pain and bruising. You may experience minor pain or discomfort at needle sites after an acupuncture treatment. You may also have light bleeding.
  • Injury. If performed improperly, needles could be pushed into the skin too deeply and injure an organ or lung.
  • Infection. Acupuncture needles are required to be sterile. If a practitioner uses unsterilized needles or reuses old needles, you could be exposed to life-threatening diseases.

Not all people are qualified candidates for acupuncture. Some conditions may cause complications, including: