Electroacupuncture may be a new low risk option for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy in those with diabetes. Researchers in South Korea conducted a randomized, assessor-blinded, multicentred trial that included 126 subjects with type II diabetes and a history of peripheral diabetic neuropathy of six months or longer.
The groups included in the study had a pain score measured weekly of 4/10 or higher on the numerical pain rating scale (NPRS). The 126 patients were randomly assigned to two groups: one group received electroacupuncture twice a week for eight weeks. Both groups received education in the form of a booklet about diet and lifestyle modification. Acupuncture points used were standardized (12 points) with the addition of one optional point and stimulated with a mixed current of 2hz/120hz. All patients were allowed to take 500-3000mg acetaminophen/day if needed, and blood sugar was controlled with stable doses of antidiabetes medications. Dropout rate was as follows: 9/63 individuals from the acupuncture group and 19/63 from the control group. An intension to treat analysis was performed.
Pain measure NPRS was the primary outcome measure and showed significant improvement at week nine in the acupuncture group compared to the control group. 15.52% of subjects in the acupuncture treatment group had pain reduction of 50% or more; whereas, 6.25% had pain reduction of 50% or more in the control group.
Improvement was also seen in the McGill pain questionnaire, sleep interference scores, and the EuroQol-5 dimensions at week nine. 82.5% of people who received electroacupuncture reported improvements on the Global Rating of Change (GRC); 34.1% of the group that did not receive acupuncture reported improvements on the GRC. Adverse events were similar in both groups.
[Limitations: lack of a sham/placebo electroacupuncture group.]