Alternative and Complementary Treatment Options for Peripheral Neuropathy
In addition to the various conventional treatment options for peripheral neuropathy, several alternative and complementary treatments are available.
Alternative and complementary treatments for neuropathy include the following:
Acupuncture, a part of traditional Chinese medicine, is a therapy that involves the insertion of thin needles into the skin at different pressure points. The needles stimulate nerves and muscles and improve circulation, which can help reduce pain. Acupuncture is also thought to release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers. It may take multiple acupuncture sessions before pain is reduced.
Biofeedback is a noninvasive technique that uses specialized technology (with sensors attached to the body) to produce data about an individual’s involuntary bodily responses. The data provides information about vital signs, brainwaves, breathing, muscle activity, and sweat gland activity. The feedback allows an individual to make changes and improvements to functions that are usually involuntary and automatic, including skin temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Biofeedback can help individuals with peripheral neuropathy by changing the way they walk. An in-shoe pressure measurement system indicates where too much pressure is being placed on the feet. Individuals can use this information to adjust the way they walk, which can help reduce or prevent pain and other related symptoms, such as calluses and foot ulcers.
Meditation and relaxation
Stress can make neuropathic pain worse, so relaxation techniques, such as meditation, may help relieve pain. Mindfulness meditation involves clearing the mind and focusing on breathing techniques, creating a calming, quiet state of mind. Guided meditation involves breathing, relaxation, and visualization exercises. Meditation and relaxation exercises can lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate, and reduce the intensity of pain.
Self-hypnosis is also a complementary treatment for peripheral neuropathy. Self-hypnosis is a technique taught by trained therapists so it can be used independently. With practice, individuals learn to intensely focus their attention on something (e.g., an image) to block the perception of pain. It is thought that hypnosis blocks nerve pain receptors in the brain, which control sensations of pain, anxiety and discomfort.
These alternative and complementary treatments for peripheral neuropathy are generally considered safe. However, a health care professional should always be consulted before beginning any new treatment.