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If you experience numbness or bouts of tingling and burning in your hands or feet, you may have peripheral neuropathy. This condition is labeled “peripheral” because the pain doesn’t emanate from the brain initially but is instead located in the extremities. Peripheral neuropathy may be caused by a localized injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome or by vitamin deficiency, shingles, diabetes, exposure to toxins or the ingestion of cancer therapy drugs.

One remedy of choice for peripheral neuropathy is acupuncture. Acupuncture has been useful for many years in the reduction of neuropathy caused by injury and by shingles (post-herpetic neuralgia) and it is now often used by patients to reduce the pain that cancer drugs may bring.

While the traditional Chinese explanation that acupuncture unblocks “Qi” and blood in their respective pathways, the Western explanation is more immediately comprehensible: acupuncture helps nerve conduction. Many physical ailments may be immediately and dramatically reduced with acupuncture, but the effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of peripheral neuropathy is often cumulative. Typically, a course of four or five treatments is administered to determine whether the patient is sufficiently responsive and whether continued treatments can be justified.

Numerous clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of acupuncture in remedying peripheral neuropathy. While these are reassuring, the ultimate test is the patient’s own experience. For many patients, acupuncture has brought relief of pain and fatigue and has restored a sense of well being.