Acupuncture improves nerve pain

The nervous system is involved in all body functions. There are three types of nerves: autonomic nerves, motor nerves and sensory nerves. Autonomic nerves are involved in internal organs activities such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, digestion and reproduction etc; motors nerves control the skeletal muscles and involved in the body motion; sensory nerves transmit signals to the brain and let feel pain and other sensations. These nerves can be damaged by many conditions, such as virus infections, tumors, and autoimmune disorders. The symptoms of nerve damage vary greatly depending on the location and type of the nerves affected. Nerve pain is a common symptom of sensory nerve damage. Other symptoms involved in sensory nerves are sensitivity, numbness, tingling, burning and problems with positional awareness. The location of pain depends on which sensory nerves are involved.

Acupuncture can help to improve nerve pain. For example, there were many researches showing that acupuncture helped trigeminal nerve pain, sciatic nerve pain, pudendal nerve pain and other peripheral nerve pain etc. Below are examples for acupuncture treatments for nerve pain.

Pudendal neuralgia with acupuncture treatment

Pudendal neuralgia was first described in 1987. It is a severely painful and disabling neuropathic condition, affecting both men and women. This leads to a burning, tingling, or itching sensation in the clitoris/penis, vulva/scrotum, perineum, and rectum, especially when sitting. Symptoms are frequently on one side, however, in patients presenting with both sides, there is often a more affected side. The pain could be present in the lower abdomen, posterior thigh, and lower back. Another common symptom is the sensation of a foreign body in the vagina, perineum or rectum. Defecation and urination can also be painful. Urinary or fecal incontinence may develop from decreased sphincter tone if motor function is affected.

Acupuncture can help to reduce the pain.

Acupuncture for trigeminal neuralgia

The acupuncture that you get could be very different, if you see different acupuncturists. For example, a study analysed acupuncture points used for trigeminal neuralgia. In this study 180 papers were included and in these papers 148 acupuncture points were used and were distributed in 14 meridians. The most frequent used points are Hegu (LI 4), Xiaguan (ST 7), Fengchi (GB 20) and trigger points. Other points included crossing points, yuan-primary points and five-shu points. They were widely used, accounting for 65. 9%. As for the branch of trigeminal nerve, the top-3 selected acupoints were Yangbai (GB 14), Yuyao (EX-HN 4), Cuanzhu (BL 2) in the first branch, Sibai (ST 2), Quanlian (SI 18), Yingxiang (LI 20) in the second branch, Jiache (ST 6), Xiaguan (ST 7), Dicang (ST 4) in the third branch. It can be seen that right points need to be chosen to get best effects.

Acupuncture is effective for sciatica

Sciatica is a syndrome involving sciatic nerve root impingement or inflammation. The main symptoms include unilateral leg pain radiating to the foot or toes that is greater than low back pain and often associated with burning pain, numbness, and weakness of the leg; pain is increased on straight leg raising and the symptoms limited to one nerve root. Sciatica may be sudden in onset and may subsequently persist for days, weeks, even years. Acupuncture can help release sciatic nerve pain. This is suggested by recent research. A review studied 11 trials involved a total of 962 participants. The analysis suggested that acupuncture is effective for sciatica and the effect is better than pain killers. Their conclusion is that the use of acupuncture may more effectively relieve leg pain/lumbago and improve overall assessment of sciatica when compared with NSAID (ibuprofen, meloxicam, and diclofenac) treatment.

Acupuncture for chronic pain from shingles

Most people have chickenpox in childhood. When the illness has gone, the virus remains dormant in the nervous system being watched by the immune system. Once one’s immune system is compromised, the virus can be reactivated and cause shingles. Shingles is one of the most painful conditions. There is no cure for shingles and it can be unpleasant. In most case, the painful rash lasts 7-10 day and takes 2-4 weeks to fully heal. However about 25% of patients have pain lasting for more than one year. Unresolved pain can lead decreased quality of life, such as mood change, sleep disruption and depression etc. Hui F et al from University of Toronto studied three weeks complementary and alternative medicine including acupuncture to treat shingles related pain. The participants had a mean age of 69.8 years and had shingles related pain for a median of 4.8 months. Acupuncture points for acupuncture group were LI4, Liv 3 and ST36. After three weeks treatment, they found that pain score was significantly reduced in treatment groups. The pain reduction was maintained at 9 weeks after the treatment finished and one–two year follow-up.

Li et al studied 80 cases of shingles which were divided into two groups, acupuncture group and medication group. They found that  the therapeutic effect of electroacupuncture  was significantly superior to that of medication. After 10 treatments visual analogous scale (VAS) scores for of both groups reduced significantly. Both the VAS score and the crust formation time of EA group were significantly lower than those of medication group.

References

Tao S et al Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2016) 36:207-11

Hui F et al Altern Med Rev (2012) 17:57-68          

Ursini T et al BMC Complement Altern Med (2011) 11:46

Li X et al Zhen Ci Yan Jiu (2009) 34:125-7

Qin Z et al Evid Based Complement Alternat Med (2015):425108. doi: 10.1155/2015/425108. Epub 2015 Oct 21.

 

Having blepharitis, tried acupuncture?

The eyelids which cover the eyes and protect them from debris and injury have lashes with short, curved hair follicles on the edge of the lids. These follicles contain oil glands. These oil glands can sometimes become clogged or irritated, even inflamed causing blepharitis. Blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. Blepharitis usually affects both eyes along the edges of the eyelids.

Blepharitis is often a chronic condition that's difficult to treat. Blepharitis can be uncomfortable and unsightly. But it usually doesn't cause permanent damage to your eyesight, and it's not contagious.

Symptoms of blepharitis include: watery eyes, red eyes, burning or stinging sensation in the eyes, itchy eyelids, red, swollen, inflamed eyelids, flaking skin around the eyes, crusted eyelashes, oily eyelids, a feeling that something is in or on the eyes, sensitivity to light, crusted eyelashes, etc. Risk factors to have blepharitis include: having eyelash mites or lice, bacterial infection, medication side effects, a malfunctioning oil gland. There are two types of blepharitis: 1) anterior eye inflammation occurs on the outside of your eye where your eyelashes are located. Dandruff on your eyebrows and allergic reactions in your eyes can cause anterior eyelid inflammation. 2) posterior eyelid inflammation occurs on the inner edge of eyelids closest to your eye. A malfunctioning oil gland behind your eyelash follicles usually causes this form of inflammation.

If you have difficulty to get rid of blepharitis, try acupuncture to help.

A case report of acupuncture on chronic blepharitis. A woman aged 61-year-old had a chronic blepharitis on her right upper eyelid for one and half years. The eyelid was red and swollen. It felt stinging. She had three acupuncture treatments. After one treatment the redness and swellings were much better and after three treatment, the blepharitis was completely gone and the eyelid was clear of inflammation.

Acupuncture is effective for ulcerative colitis

The colon is the large intestine (bowel) and the rectum is the end of the bowel where stools are stored. Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition where the colon and rectum become inflamed and small ulcers can develop on the colon's lining and can bleed and produce pus. The main symptoms of ulcerative colitis are: recurring diarrhoea with or without blood, mucus or pus, abdominal pain, urgency and frequency of needing to empty the bowels, especially after meals. Other common nonspecific symptoms include extreme tiredness (fatigue), loss of appetite and weight loss. The severity of the symptoms varies, depending on how much of the rectum and colon is inflamed and how severe the inflammation is.

Acupuncture has traditionally been used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease in China and is increasingly applied in Western countries. This is a study investigated the effect of acupuncture in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. 29 patients with mild to moderately active UC (mean age 37.8 +/- 12.0 years) were recruited. They received treatments of 10 sessions over a period of 5 weeks and followed-up for 16 weeks. The results suggested that acupuncture seem to offer an additional therapeutic benefit in patients with mild to moderately active UC.

References 

Stefanie Joos Scand J Gastroenterol. 2006 Sep;41(9):1056-63.

Suffer from hay fever, Acupuncture can help

Hay fever known as allergic rhinitis is a condition caused by inflammation in the nose which occurs when the immune system overreracts to the allergens such as pollen, pet hair, dust, or mold. In spring time, people with seasonal hay fever would surfer when others enjoy the spring.  It is because the immune system overreacts pollen in the air and causes inflammation in the nose.

Acupuncture is effective to treat hay fever. There is a paper just published titled Impact of acupuncture on antihistamine use in patients suffering seasonal allergic rhinitis: secondary analysis of results from a randomised controlled trial. In this research patients were allocated into three study groups: acupuncture plus medication, sham acupuncture plus medication, and medication alone. The data from 414 patients were analysed. The acupuncture group used antihistamines significantly less often compared with the other groups. The pre-post comparison suggested that the acupuncture patients did not need to increase the days of antihistamine use to alleviate their symptoms. Acupuncture appeared to significantly reduce the number of days of antihistamine use for the patients with hay fever.

 

References

Adam D et al Acupunct med 2018 Feb 10. pii: acupmed-2017-011382. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2017-011382. [Epub ahead of print]

Acupuncture boosts the immune system

What is the immune system in the body? Why it is important? The immune system is a defense system in the body containing many organs and cells against diseases such as viral and bacterial infections. Sometimes the immune system does not work well; it can either be underactive or overactive or attack the wrong targets. If the immune system is underactive and low functioning, you could get frequent infections such as viral infection, fungal infection or chronic inflammation in the body such as aching or pain somewhere in the body or IBS, tiredness etc. If the immune system is overactive you could get diseases such as allergy, hay fever, eczma, athma etc. If the immune system targets your own organs you could get autoimmune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis. Recent research has shown that acupuncture can help regulate immune system function. For example, a study involved in 34 female patients aged 30-60 with impaired immune function. The result has shown that the improvement of immune function of acupuncture on immune function started from 72 hours after the first acupuncture session and persisted when follow-up time of a month after a year treatments. The impaired immune system in the group was improved significantly to the same level with healthy control group.

References

Arranz L et al Am J Chin Med (2007) 35:35-51

Acupuncture for insomnia

Sleep well seems so natural for people. A sound good night sleep is so important to get us refreshed and get our body’s battery recharged for next day’s activity. Why we need sleep? We need sleep because sleep can rest our body and mind. What happens, if we don’t sleep well? We must all have experienced some sleepless nights for some reasons; and then we feel tired and cannot be concentrating well next day. This temporary issue would be over by following a good sleep. Do you ever imagine that someone has never been sleep well for years; every night is sleepless night? About 1 in 2 adults in the UK suffer from some forms of sleep problems and did not get enough sleep.

What is happening to our body, when we are sleeping? When we sleep, our body is going through cycles. Each cycle lasts about one to two hours and consists of four stages: pre-sleep, light sleep, slow wave sleep and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. In pre-sleep stage, muscles are relaxed; heart rate and breathing slow down. In light sleep stage, it is easy to wake up. In slow wave sleep stage, it is hard to wake up. In REM stage, dream occurs; eyes move from side to side; muscles are completely relaxed. There are up to five cycles during a night sleep lasting about 8 hours in adults.

Insomnia is that sleep problems last for a long time. The symptoms include that 1) it is difficult to fall sleep; 2) it is difficult to stay sleep (often wake up during sleep and difficult to get back to sleep again). 3) Waking up early in the morning. After a sleepless night, one may feel tired, irritable and less concentrating. If this lasts for a long time, it would affect overal heath. The causes of insomnia include two aspects: psychological problems, such as stress, anxiety and depression; physical problems, such as physical chronic pain, asthma, heart problems etc. Recent research showed that people with insomnia have more activities in their central nervous system and/or autonomic nervous system and this keeps them awake.

There are many methods which could self help to improve sleep, such as avoid drinking coffee a few hours before sleep, do regular exercises, take a warm bath before sleep etc. If none of these works, it is easy to turn to sleeping pill for help. However long term taking sleeping pill may lose its effectiveness and cause serious side effects. Here I would recommend acupuncture for you, if you have got insomnia.

Acupuncture is proven to be effective for insomnia because it has direct effects on peripheral nerve system and muscle relaxations; it also regulates autonomic nervous system and central nerve activity. Huang W did a system review for effectiveness of acupuncture in treating insomnia. They analysed 30 clinical trials, 93% of which showed positive treatment effects of acupuncture in improving various aspect of sleep. Acupuncture makes falling sleep faster; increases sleep time; reduces waking up time; improves quality of sleep. Comparing the effects of sleeping pill and acupuncture, they found that sleeping pill has rapid effect, while acupuncture has accumulating effects. Acupuncture can be used for a long time to achieve better effects than that for sleeping pill. The maintenance effects could last as long as 3.5 years at follow-up without side effects.

Tu Jh et al compared the effect of acupuncture and zolpidem in treating primary insomnia. 19 patients received acupuncture once a week and 14 patients received zolpidem treatment. The treatment period was 4 weeks. PSQI was used to evaluate sleep quality. They found that sleep was improved significantly in both groups. Both groups improved over time at a similar rate. They concluded that acupuncture may be an effective alternative treatment compared with zolpidem for primary insomnia. 

Insomnia increases in women in menopause period and after this period. Hachul et al studied the effectiveness of acupuncture on women in their postmenopausal period with insomnia. In this study, 18 women aged 50-67 years of age were included. Their period stopped over 1 year and they did not use any antidepressants, hypnotics or hormonal therapy. The participants were divided into two groups: acupuncture group and sham acupuncture group. They received 10 sessions of acupuncture during a period of 5 weeks. Pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI) was used to measure the sleep quality before and after the acupuncture treatment. The result showed that women in acupuncture group had better quality of sleep after acupuncture treatment.

Here is a typical case report. A 55 year old woman presents with sleep problem for a year, which related to her stress and knee pain as well. She used some pain killers to help sleep. She had problems of falling sleep as well as staying sleep. Her sleep quality Index was 17 indicating very poor sleep. 2 nights of sleep monitoring showed that 6 hours sleep for the first night using sleeping pill and 4 hours sleep for the second night with fewer amounts of sleeping pills. Her sleep quality is poor. And then she started 12 sessions of acupuncture treatments. Acupuncture was given twice a week for the first 4 weeks and then once a week for the following 4 weeks. Each session lasts for 45-60 minutes. Five days after the start of acupuncture treatment, she slept for 7-5 to 8.0 hours per day without taking sleeping pills. After 8 weeks of acupuncture treatment, she was falling asleep easily and stayed asleep longer. Two days of sleep monitoring showed that 7 hours good sleep per day without taking sleeping pill. The quality of sleep is also improved.

References

Huang W etc (2009) Sleep Med Rev 13:73-104.

Huang W etc Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine (2011), 7: 95-102

Get sleep problem? Acupuncture could help

Hachul H et al Climacteric (2012)

Tu JH et al Asian Psychiatr. (2012) 5:231-5

For an acupuncture appointment

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