Mind-Body Medicine: Can Acupuncture Help With Peripheral Neuropathy?

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Topics include: Treatments

Can mind-body medicine techniques help alleviate painful, and in some cases debilitating, peripheral neuropathy? Dr. Ishwaria Subbiah, from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses treatment options available for symptom management from both pharmacologic intervention and the mind-body realm. Dr. Subbiah also explains the impact acupuncture can have on patients with neuropathy from clinical trial results. 

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

Dr. Subbiah, I just saw a quick question that came in from Canada where someone asked, well, can yoga help with peripheral neuropathy pain?  So, for instance, our myeloma folks, some others, have medicines, and I think of those but there may be others across cancer, where you developed neuropathy in full or numbness, so what about that?  Or are there other ways to manage it, and that's part of your discussion with your palliative care specialist?  

And so we look at the pharmacological interventions that are out there that you may have worked with your doctor, whether it's the gabapentin (Neurontin) or pregabalin (Lyrica) or duloxetine (Cymbalta). These words may all ring a bell to some of you who are suffering from peripheral neuropathy.   

The mind-body realm just has some options for peripheral neuropathy, and these work in the same way that most mind-body techniques work, which is in conjunction with.  And so one of the interventions that we have data for to support its use in peripheral neuropathy, the primary one that comes to mind is acupuncture.  

And so acupuncture, we have small trials that shows an improvement in the pain when compared to those who don't receive acupuncture in their peripheral neuropathy.  So it does have a role when you use it for the management, and it may be that you use it in addition to a medication that you may have been taking that may have helped but not to the extent that you want it to. So acupuncture has a tremendous role in the management of peripheral neuropathy.   

The remainder of the techniques have a role in anxiety management, and even the distress that goes with having a peripheral neuropathy, so it's not to say that there isn't a role.  The whole concept of this is you have to take care of the whole person, so it's not just about the pain in your left foot.  It's the left foot that's attached to that person who's having to stop running because their left foot is bothering them.   

So mind-body techniques have a very important role, especially as you go later on in your treatment or as a survivor.  Some of these side effects stick around with you for a very long time.  So these mind-body practices, you can take them with you for life.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on May 21, 2019