Medical Acupuncture. December 2017, Vol. 29, No. 6: 352-365
Background: Peripheral neuropathy (PN) is defined as damage to the peripheral nervous system caused by a primary lesion or dysfunction. Multiple recent trials have suggested that acupuncture is beneficial for treating neuropathic pain. One challenge in acupuncture research is the lack of standardization of point selection, number of needles used, needle-retention time, needling depth, amount of needle manipulation, and use of moxibustion and electroacupuncture (EA).
Objectives: This article presents a standardized acupuncture protocol for the treatment of PN that incorporates structural acupuncture principles based on proximity to peripheral nerves and on traditional approaches to the treatment of neuropathic pain.
Materials and Methods: Ten consecutive patients diagnosed with large- or small-fiber neuropathy of various etiologies were treated with a standardized protocol, based on anatomical correlations of peripheral nerves and acupuncture points. Manual acupuncture was applied to left LR 4, LU 5; bilateral LI 11, KI 27, ST 36, GB 34, SP 6, SP 9, LI 4, TE 5, and BaFeng (except for the space between the first and second digits of the toes; LR 3 was used for that space). EA was applied to bilateral KI 3–1 and bilateral ST 41–LR 3. Patients underwent at least six acupuncture sessions, although the total number of sessions varied. Outcomes were measured using a visual analogue scale (VAS) and clinical signs and symptoms.
Results: All 10 patients indicated improvement on the VAS and in clinical presentation.
Conclusions: This standardized protocol appears to be effective for the treatment of neuropathy of various causes, including large- and small-fiber involvement. Further studies with larger sample sizes and randomized comparisons against sham acupuncture and other acupuncture regimens will be helpful to determine if this protocol could be established as a guideline for approaching peripheral neuropathy.