A number of alternative treatments and non-Western healing practices are currently being evaluated to objectively gauge their effectiveness in treating many conditions including neuropathy. One of the most promising is acupuncture. Acupuncturists believe that vital energy ("Qi") traverses the nervous system along specific pathways called meridians and channels. By inserting thin needles into specific areas of the body, acupuncturists seek to stimulate qi and bring vital energy back into balance. The Chinese have practiced acupuncture for thousands of years. Although Western researchers can't yet explain how it works, studies have shown that it can be effective in relieving some types of pain. One 2010 study showed acupuncture to be more effective than traditional medication in relieving peripheral neuropathy pain induced by chemotherapy drugs [source: Zhongguo].
The Northern California Chapter of the Neuropathy Association has published a guide to complementary and alternative treatments for neuropathy. Among the treatments listed are alpha-lipoic acid (a universal antioxidant), Bowen therapy (a type of massage) and IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin therapy), as well as many folk remedies such as borage oil, primrose oil and nettle footbaths. Though there is little scientific evidence supporting these treatments, they are recommended anecdotally by members of NCCNA support groups. Be sure to always discuss alternative treatments with your doctor before experimenting with complementary therapies.
Neuropathy is a big subject, with multiple possible causes and treatments. Find additional information and more great links below.
More Great Links
- "Complementary and Alternative Treatments for Neuropathy." Northern California Chapter of the Neuropathy Association. September, 2008. (October 13, 2011.) http://www.pnhelp.org/index.php/download_file/view/116/
- Crosta, Peter. "What is Neuropathy?" medicalnewstoday.com. April 29, 2009. (October 3, 2011.) http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/147963.php
- Gever, John. "AAPM: High-Dose Capsaicin Patch Tolerable Long-Term for Neuropathic Pain." MedPageToday.com. February 3, 2009. (October 3, 2011.) http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AAPM/12720
- Jefferies, Kristen. "Treatment of Neuropathic Pain." Medscape. 2010. (October 3, 2011). http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/730671
- Lindsay, Tammy J., et al. "Treating Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathic Pain." American Family Physician. July 15, 2010. (October 13, 2011) http://www.aafp.org/afp/2010/0715/p151.html
- Lowry, Fran. "Smoking Marijuana Eases Chronic Neuropathic Pain." Medscape Today. August 30, 2010. (October 13, 2011) http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/727702
- Lynch, Mary E. and Campbell, Fiona. "Cannabinoids for treatment of chronic non-cancer pain; a systematic review of randomized trials." British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. October 11, 2011. (October 13, 2011) http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2011.03970.x/abstract
- Moore, RA, et al. "gabapentin for chronic neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia in adults." The Cochrane Library, 2011, Issue 3. (October 3, 2011.) http://www.update-software.com/BCP/WileyPDF/EN/CD007938.pdf
- Mross, Kerriann. Internist, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians. Personal Interview. October 6, 2011.
- Richemier, Steven. "Understanding Neuropathic Pain." SpineUniverse.com. 2000. (October 3, 2011.) http://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/understanding-neuropathic-pain
- "Sanctuary; Death and All His Friends." Grey's Anatomy. Television show. Season 6, episode 23. Aired May 20, 2010. (October 3, 2011) http://abc.go.com/shows/greys-anatomy/episode-detail/sanctuary-death-and-all-his-friends/440238
- Zhongguo, Zhen Jiu. "Clinical Randomized Controlled Study on Acupuncture for Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy Induced by Chemotheraputic Drugs." PubMed. June 30, 2010. (October 13, 2011) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20578381
Researchers say they've found a way to treat appendicitis with antibiotics. HowStuffWorks looks at the new research.