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Diabetes Health Center

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Alternative Treatments for Diabetes Nerve Pain

Acupuncture to Relieve Neuropathy Pain

A growing number of people are using acupuncture to treat neuropathy pain linked with diabetes and other health-related problems.

What is acupuncture? It is a practice in which fine needles are inserted into the skin to stimulate specific points in the body. Traditional Chinese medicine is based on the theory that energy flows through the body along certain pathways, called ‘chi’. Illness or pain results when that energy is blocked or out of balance. The Chinese theory holds that acupuncture unblocks or balances that flow of energy.

Many Western researchers say acupuncture may alter brain chemicals that affect the body and mind. Translated into the language of Western medicine, the healing power of acupuncture may come from its effect on the nervous system, on hormones, and on "feel good" brain chemicals called endorphins.

One landmark study found that patients have reduced pain and improved movement with acupuncture. The National Institutes of Health and World Health Organization have both approved certain uses of acupuncture related to pain.

Acupuncture also appears to be very safe. Relatively few complications from the use of acupuncture have been reported to the FDA even though millions of people are treated with acupuncture each year, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Still, poorly sterilized needles or improper treatments have caused some complications. It's important to make sure you go to well-trained and experienced acupuncturist. Your doctor may be able to help you with a recommendation.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on July 27, 2014
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