According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 20 million people in the United States suffer from peripheral neuropathy. The NIH also notes that it is particularly common among those suffering from diabetes. So, what is peripheral neuropathy and can acupuncture help to relieve its symptoms?
Peripheral Neuropathy Defined
Medical professionals define peripheral neuropathy as a disease affecting the nerves that causes weakness, numbness and pain in the feet and hands. Symptoms vary but can include tingling and/or numbness in the hands and feet, sharp, stabbing pain, a weak or heavy feeling in the arms and legs and even a drop in blood pressure for some.
How Acupuncture Can Help
Although more research is being done, early research does suggest that acupuncture can help with the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. A pilot study done in 2007 provided promising results and a 2017 study also found that, “acupuncture appears to improve nerve conduction study parameters in both sensory and motor nerves.”
In addition to improving the immune system and improving the flow of energy in the body, acupuncture and acupressure therapy can work to relax muscles and reduce pain. Let’s look at five specific points that can provide relief for those suffering from peripheral neuropathy in the feet.
5 Acupressure Points to Find Relief
The first point to pay attention to is ST-36. Remember, acupuncture operates on the premise that the body is connected by pathways that provide energy throughout, so it isn’t unusual that this point is found by placing four fingers at the end of the knee. ST-36 rests where the depression between the bone and muscle sits.
Acupoint GB-34 is next on the list of points to help with peripheral neuropathy symptoms. You can find this point in the dent below the small bone protruding from the side of the knee. This point is also an effective treatment for lower body numbness and swelling in the knee.
The third acupressure point to note is SP-3 which can be found at the medial point of the big toe, on the sole of the foot, where the crease is formed when the toes are bent downwards. This point is thought to help in reducing pain caused by chemotherapy induced neuropathy as the medial plantar nerve runs around this point.
Acupoint SP-8 is the fourth helpful point in dealing with peripheral neuropathy. It is located at the center of the inner ankle, in the gap between the upper and lower bones inside the knees (about 1/3 above the lower knee). The tibial nerve passes near this point.
And the final point to notice is BI-56 and is located at the back of the leg, a six-finger width from the center of the back of the knee (at the top of the calf muscle). This point is thought to be particularly effective at treating the muscle weakness symptom that comes with peripheral neuropathy.
Self-acupressure can be helpful as can adding acupuncture treatment into the mix.