The Use of Acupuncture to Treat Nerve Pain

Nerve Pain (Neuropathic pain)

A debilitating condition that can be chronic or short lasting. Either way it can have a profound effect on sufferer’s lives. My clients describe their nerve pain in different ways – burning, stabbing pain, shooting sensations or even like bolts of lightning or electric shocks. They may also experience tingling in their limbs commonly in their hands, fingers or feet or they may have numbness to specific parts of their body.

So what causes nerve pain? To answer this we must understand what nerves are& how they work. There are three types of nerves. Autonomic nerves, which control involuntary or partially involuntary actions of your body e.g. regulating body temperature, digestion and most importantly heart function. Sensory Nerves, these nerves convey information from your skin, muscles and connective tissue back to your brain via the spinal nerves. Motor Nerves, these nerves control all movements and actions of your body by transferring information from your brain to the spinal nerves and muscles.

The most common cause of nerve pain that I see in my clinic is due to trauma. This can be due to injuries in the work place or on sporting fields, post-surgery, motor vehicle accidents or accidents occurring at home.

Nerve pain is also associated with certain medical conditions Diabetes, Autoimmune Disease, Cancer & Motor Neuron Disease to name a few. It can also be due to nutritional deficiencies such as Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12, side effects of drugs and toxic substances.

So how do we treat nerve pain?

I can best answer this by drawing on my twenty years’ experience as a Chinese Medical Practitioner. Over thousands of years acupuncture has developed into a formidable treatment for conditions such as nerve pain. Acupuncture has a direct influence on the nervous system. The insertion of fine needles into the skin, muscle and connective tissue stimulates local nerve receptors, either sensory or motor. The brain receives information from these nerves, interprets and then acts on the information. The release of endorphins, increase of blood flow to the affected area are two of the major responses.

Sciatica is one of the most common nerve pain conditions that I treat in my clinic. It is a painful, debilitating condition that unfortunately many people who suffer from this do not realise that it responds well to acupuncture treatment.

I classify Sciatica in to two types Primary and Secondary. Primary Sciatica involves nerve impingement coming from the spinal or sacral iliac joints. It may involve disc inflammation, protrusion or collapse or narrowing of the joint spaces. The sacral iliac joint may have may have degenerative changes causing inflammation which may affect the nerve root. The result is distending pain into the gluteal muscles, hip areas and or thigh, knee, calf and foot. The pain can be anterior, lateral or posterior or all three depending on the severity of the condition.

Secondary Sciatica involves soft tissue impingement of the nerve. Often the piriformis and/or the gluteal muscles are tight or in spasm, putting pressure on the sciatic nerve and causing distending pain just like its primary cousin.

Treatments involving acupuncture and sometimes massage can greatly reduce this terrible pain and restore better function to the lower back, hips and legs of the sciatic pain sufferer.

Ray Ridley

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