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Electroacupuncture and Diabetic Neuropathy

  |   Research   |   8 Comments

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.]

Link to the full article

  • A. Pfeiffer | Jan 3, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    This sounds like a great alternative to pharmacological management of pain due to PDN

  • Renee | Jan 7, 2019 at 12:17 pm

    there was also a pilot study by A. Poini et al. that found acupuncture improved chemotherapy induced neuropathy related to breast cancer treatment.

    Poini, A., Pavesi, A., Magno, S., Maggiore, C., Zamagni, C., Rubino, D., … & Giovanardi, C. M. (2018). Acupuncture for Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN) in Breast Cancer: ACU-CIPN a Pilot Study. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, 11(4), 217-218.

    • Janice | Jan 7, 2019 at 2:44 pm

      This is a frustrating, painful and debilitating condition with very few treatment options. Given the safety of this treatment with good results among some patients (low risk, high potential benefit) it seems we should be considering it more.

  • Ari V. | Feb 6, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    Thank you for this information. I can’t understand why my doctor hasn’t suggested this.

    • Janice | Feb 6, 2019 at 5:03 pm

      Hi Ari,
      Acupuncture has always been a hard sell in the medical profession. There are unique challenges when doing research: standardization of points used, time of needle retention, number of needles, depth of penetration of needles, amount of needle manipulation, with or without electrostimulation, etc. Treatment techniques vary widely so there is often no clear cut protocol. We also have challenges when double blinding studies; although, techniques to accomplish this are improving.
      Research into acupuncture is also a relatively young field. As we do more research into the use of acupuncture we get a clearer picture of what works . This recent paper helped standardize its use for a particular condition and shows some promise of providing a viable alternative to those with diabetic neuropathy.

  • JP | Apr 6, 2019 at 6:05 pm

    This is great, thank you!

  • Tory Cariaso | Apr 22, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    I must voice my enthusiasm for the kindness in support of individuals that actually need help with this one issue. The useful insight means so much a person like me and especially to my mates. Thank you; from everyone.

  • Alto | Apr 28, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    Everyone loves what you guys are up too. Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve added you guys to my own blogroll.

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