Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) is a common post-treatment adverse side-effect that is caused by damage to the nerves that control the motion of our arms and legs. These are known as peripheral nerves and are placed away from the brain and spinal cord. Some common symptoms are severe pain, muscle weakness, and loss of feeling or numbness. According to Chinese medicine, chemo is a very harmful drying force that disturbs the internal physiology of an individual. The organs most affected by chemo are the spleen, liver, and kidney. Acupuncturists nurture these organs to stimulate internal balance and get rid of the symptoms.
CIPN has many characteristics that differ from other types of neuropathy such as carpel tunnel syndrome or metabolic neuropathy. It is a really harmful disorder that limits the ability of a person. It can prove to be a hindrance to the dose of administered chemotherapy and may even cause discontinuation of treatment. Long-term CIPN usually leads to a significant decline in normal body functions and can diminish the quality of life to a huge extent.
Compared to the Western techniques, acupuncture is quite a different approach to medicine. However, the results of acupuncture are constantly being researched to explain its effects further. The National Institute of Health states that acupuncture has great results when treating vomiting and nausea that is commonly induced by chemotherapy. It also helps with other side effects of chemo including pain, fatigue, diarrhea, irritability and poor sleep.
While medicines provided nowadays don’t have a good track record in treating the side-effects of CIPN, non-pharmacological treatments such as acupuncture prove themselves to be sufficient enough to treat those disruptive aftereffects.
Some research has been done to find out the effects of acupuncture on chemotherapy. In a randomized blind trial, patients suffering from chronic peripheral pain were treated with a form of acupuncture known as auricular acupuncture. The results showed that about 36% of patients who actually went through the treatment had reduced levels of pain while only 2% of patients who weren’t actually treated said their pain had significantly reduced. Another research showed that 5 out of 6 patients treated with acupuncture had better nerve conduction while only 1 out of 5 patients in the control group showed signs of improvement.
In addition to the researches mentioned above, studies relating to objective nerve conduction showed that patients who went through acupuncture showed significant improvement in nerve conduction within three months as compared to patients who went through normal medical care. Another study showed a beneficial association between 21 patients who were treated with acupuncture and another 26 patients who went under the best medical care that could be provided to them. A study carried out recently on patients suffering from bortezomib-induced peripheral neuropathy showed significant improvement in neuropathic pain and improved coordination just ten weeks after undergoing acupuncture.
All the research compiled together points towards the fact that acupuncture can provide great help when dealing with Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. It is also stated that acupuncture provides the best results if the treatment is started before undergoing chemotherapy. This is due to the fact that acupuncture prepares different organs of the body for the toxic effects of chemotherapy and gives an individual a greater chance of battling the side-effects caused by it. However, a lot more research is required so an objective answer can be found for this issue. The research shows It is beneficial to undergo acupuncture as it reduces the stress levels and is known to help with many other Chemotherapy-induced problems.