Acupuncture is becoming more and more popular as a treatment for diabetic neuropathy. Although acupuncture is safe, has few if any side effects and can be effective in treating peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes, many diabetics put off calling an acupuncturist because they find they have more questions than answers when it comes to the treatment. Here is a helpful guide based on first hand experience designed to give you some answers to common questions about what to expect if you decide to try acupuncture for your diabetic neuropathy.
What happens at my first appointment for acupuncture for your diabetic neuropathy?
At your first appointment with an acupuncturist, she will want to set aside at least half an hour at the beginning of the session in order to take your medical history, talk about your symptoms and explain how she will use acupuncture to treat your diabetic neuropathy. Ask when you make your first acupuncture appointment, but plan on budgeting an hour and a half to two hours for your initial session.
If I have acupuncture for my diabetic neuropathy, where will they stick the needles?
Afraid of becoming a human pincushion? Me too, but you do not have to be. The first time I had acupuncture, I was surprised at how few needles were used. A friend who has acupuncture for peripheral neuropathy caused by her diabetes reports that her doctor places needles in her feet and ankles, one needle on one hand, inside the elbow and collar bone and between her eyebrows. See below for links to helpful pictures.
Will acupuncture for diabetic neuropathy require me to take off my clothes?
Not really. You do need to have bare skin where the doctor intends to stick the needles. When you have acupuncture for diabetic neuropathy, you might need to remove your pants in the winter time, although if you wear shorts that are not constricting in the summer time, you might not have to do so. At the acupuncturist, you will be shown to a room with a hospital gown and other covering in it, just like at the regular doctor’s office, so you do not have to worry about being uncovered.
How long will sessions of acupuncture for your diabetic neuropathy usually take?.
After the first appointment with an acupuncturist, acupuncture treatment for your diabetic neuropathy usually takes about 30 to 45 minutes.
Does acupuncture for your diabetic neuropathy hurt?
No. If you are having acupuncture for diabetic neuropathy, you probably will not feel anything in your feet, at least not at first. Generally, you cannot even feel the acupuncture needles being inserted. The doctor will then tap the needles tap the needles to make sure that he has inserted them in the right place. He wants to make sure he is tapping into your qi, which the Chinese believe is a sort of internal jet stream of energy. You will feel it, but it is closer to pinprick than a stab- much closer. A friend with diabetic neuropathy describes the pain as a 2 on a scale of 10.
Will my insurance cover acupuncture for diabetic neuropathy?.
Unfortunately, acupuncture for your diabetic neuropathy is generally not covered by insurance. Acupuncture treatment for peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes generally costs about $50 per session.
How frequently will I need to have acupuncture for diabetic neuropathy?
When you first start treating your diabetic neuropathy with acupuncture, you will need to go in once or twice a week. Once you have regained feeling in your feet and lower legs, you will need to go in for treatment less frequently- every three to four weeks or so.
A friend who has peripheral neuropathy caused by her diabetes had to go in for three appointments before she felt the full effect, although acupuncture made a noticeable difference in her diabetic neuropathy after the first visit. She has also put off going to her doctor for acupuncture treatment for as long as three months between visits. Although her diabetic neuropathy was pretty bad by the time she finally went in, one session was all it took to get her back on her feet.
How do I find a doctor who performs acupuncture for diabetic neuropathy?
Ask your regular diabetes doctor if there is someone he can recommend or you can ask friends if they have had acupuncture for their peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes. Acupuncture is becoming more mainstream and common these days, and you might be surprised. Ask your chiropractor if she does acupuncture; my friend’s acupuncturist is also a chiropractor.
A final note on acupuncture for diabetic neuropathy.
Please note that not all acupuncturists are the same. My friend has had great success with acupuncture to treat her diabetic neuropathy. One day she decided to visit a traditional Chinese doctor instead of her usual chiropractic doctor. He did not insert needles into her forehead and the treatment did not have anywhere near the same beneficial effect on her peripheral neuropathy. He also did not seem to spend the time with her that her usual acupuncturist did. Even worse, the cost was exactly the same.
Acupuncture treatments for peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes can be successful, but everyone is different. If you decide to try acupuncture for your diabetic neuropathy, be prepared to shop around to find a doctor you like and a treatment that works well for you.
Personal experience. The name of the author’s diabetic friend has been withheld for privacy reasons. You may contact the author for more information.
For helpful pictures of acupuncture insertion points, go to http://www.pharmainfo.net/reviews/application-acupuncture-therapy-diabetes-mellitus-patients