Richard G. Petty, MD

Acupuncture and Peripheral Neuropathy

Neuropathic pain is one of the toughest problems to deal with.

I have had more relative failures in trying to help this problem than any other.

So I was very interested to see a pilot study that has evaluated the therapeutic effect of acupuncture on peripheral neuropathy (PN) as measured by changes in nerve conduction and assessment of subjective symptoms.

One hundred and ninety-two consecutive patients with PN as diagnosed by nerve conduction studies (NCS) were evaluated over a period of 1 year. Of 47 patients who met the criteria for PN of undefined etiology, 21 received traditional Chinese acupuncture, while 26 received medical care but no specific treatment for PN. 76% of the acupuncture group improved symptomatically and objectively as measured by NCS, while only 15% of the control group did so. 14% of the acupuncture group showed no change and 10% showed an aggravation, whereas in the control group 27% showed no change and 58% an aggravation. Subjective improvement was fully correlated with improvement in NCS in both groups.

These numbers are stunning. I might have some small quibbles about the way that the study was dne, but the results are impressive.

A second study compared Chinese and Japanese acupuncture for treating painful diabetic neuropathy. Both treatments improved pain, but only the Chinese style produced an objective improvement in the ability to feel in the affected areas.

These findings are remarkable: peripheral neuropathy can be a bear to treat, and according to the received wisdom, neither the pain nor the sensation should be able to get better. In the second study the patients were only treated once a week for ten weeks. In China such patients get daily treatments, and people in the West who treat neuropathy with acupuncture normally recommend treatments at least two or three times a week.

Both of these studies were small, but they are very encouraging.

If they are confirmed, we may to re-think another one of those, “Everyone knows that..” statements. This one about neuropathy: That is supposed to be untreatable and irreversible.

That is why the next set of studies will be super-rigorous,

They need to be.

If confirmed, we are going to be re-writing the textbooks.

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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