Acupuncture and Moxibustion for Numbness – Personal Experiences
Patients are mostly aware that acupuncture can be beneficial in the treatment of pain. In this case, acupuncture is used to decrease the perception of pain sensations. Many thus are curious as to whether or not acupuncture can be used in the opposite end of the spectrum – the treatment of numbness and peripheral neuropathy.
In my experience, patients that complain of numbness in their skin can be generally classified into two types. The first type is what I call numbness due to metabolic problems. The second is what I term numbness due to nerve injury.
The first kind – and mind you, this is an unofficial distinction – is due to some factor altering the flow of Qi and Blood in the Channels and Collaterals. Common presentations of this in clinic include diabetic neuropathy. In Diabetes Mellitus, blood sugar levels are so high causing injury to very ends of the blood vessels called capillaries. Peripheral nerves are thus undernourished. This is the reason why patients feel the numbness and tingling at the fingertips and feet. In Chinese Medicine, this will be considered a result of Dampness. Thus, in addition to points used to treat Dampness directly and address the root cause, the practitioner will use techniques to stimulate local blood flow. These include pricking to bleed or using plum blossom or seven star needles to cause superficial bleeding.
The second type I’ve seen is what I call the result of direct injury to the Channels. In western medicine terms, we can say that there is trauma resulting in injury to the nerve. A recent patient of mine brings this to mind. He had told me that he suffered an accident and had severely injured his leg. Since then, he had felt an area of numbness and this bothered him very much.
The solution for me was to use moxibustion. Here is a very nice discussion on what moxibustion is (link).
Moxibustion is used to move the Qi and Blood, and that is precisely what we had to do. I must have used a dozen moxa cones each time. After the first treatment, the patient reported a little sensation which disappeared after a few days. After the second treatment, it seemed just the same. The third treatment hit the jackpot in that the sensation was now fully back and the area of numbness was reduced to just a little portion near the ankle.
If you suffer from numbness and tingling sensation, give acupuncture and moxibustion a try.