Acupuncture For Edema & Neuropathy: January 13th 2022

Neuropathy and lower edema can often occur in conjuncture. As previously mentioned in blog posts neuropathy is damage or dysfunction of peripheral nerves that often causes numbness or tingling in the extremities. Edema is palpable swelling due to increased interstitial fluids volume, there can be a number of reasons interstitial fluids increase but are generally due to increased capillary permeability, decreased osmotic pressure, increased capillary pressure or. obstruction of the lymphatic system.

Neuropathy in the ankle can cause swelling, the fatty sheath that surrounds the nerve may be broken down allowing fluid to more easily leak in and out which can cause swelling, inflammation and increased sensations of numbness or tingling. As previously mentioned, increased capillary permeability can cause edema, which is similar. Capillary pores become larger particles that can leak into the spaces between muscles and skin which eventually leads to the accumulation of fluids- this type of edema is often caused by general systemic inflammation, tissue damage or injury and a hyper immune response. Edema can cause problems with blood flow and restrict proper blood and nutrients from reaching the extremities.

We have already spoken about how acupuncture with electrical stimulation can be incredibly helpful in regenerating damaged nerves as well as encouraging new nerve growth but haven’t covered how helpful acupuncture can be in treating edema, we have mentioned how incredibly acupuncture can be for any inflammation whether it be internal organs or joints and tendons, and this kind of swelling is no different. Local acupuncture promotes the circulation of both blood and interstitial fluid throughout the body, so it no longer stagnates. Moxa can be used in conjunction with the acupuncture and stem to increase the localized anti-inflammatory effects. Mechanically there will be decreased fluids because we are puncturing swollen skin filled with fluids. It is expected for clear fluids to expel out of where the needles were placed.

A patient had come in who had suffered from a fall due to neuropathy in the feet, the numbness she had experienced caused her to be unsteady, when she came in for her first treatment her ankles and were incredibly swollen and stiff and she had no sensation in the bottoms of her feet. This patient was unable to drive due to the lack of sensations in her feet. After one treatment the edema had visually gone down, and she already had increased sensation in the ball of her foot. After about 5 sessions this patient’s swelling had gone down almost entirely and sensation had returned everywhere except the very last section of her heel. A few treatments later and she was even able to drive again. After each session this patient is able to see more sensation in her feet and more ease in her walking and the swelling has continued to stay down and has not returned. 

-Anna Craddock, Student of Acupuncture

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