Chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN) involves the damage of the peripheral nerves. This can result in numbness/tingling, altered sensation such as pain or burning, weakness or loss of co-ordination of the extremities; dependant on the type of nerve fibre being affected.
The main group of chemotherapy drugs that induce this include taxanes, vinca alkaloids and platinum compounds. Preliminary studies have illustrated that acupuncture may be beneficial for peripheral neuropathy induced by diabetes (Tong et al, 2010, Zhang et al 2010).
Donald et al (2011) carried out a cohort study where 18 CIPN patients recieved 6 weeks of weekly treatment, with the acupuncture points ranging from Sp6, St36, Liv3, Li4, Bl60, and extra points Baxie and Bafeng depending on the signs and symptoms. 82% of patients reported improvements in symptoms with 0% of patients getting worse from treatment. The authors highlighted that acupuncture is a legitimate area for future research that shows promise.
A pilot study by Schroder et al (2011) also indicated positive outcomes utilising acupuncture for the treatment of CIPN. This study measured nerve function before acupuncture and 6 months later utilising neurography techniques for an acupuncture group and a control group. Points administered where St 34, Qiduan and Bafeng from TCM protocol. Treatment was administered over a period of 10 weeks. After 6 months the acupuncture group had a significantly greater improvements than the control group.
Donald, G, Tobin I, Stringer J. (2011) Evaluation of acupuncture in the management of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. Acupunct Med 2011 Vol 29:3:230-233.
Schroeder S, Meter-Hamme G, Epplee S. (2011) Acupuncture for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN): a pilot study using neurography. Acupunct Med 2012:30:4-7.
Tong Y, Guo H, Han B. 2010. Fifteen-day acupuncture treatment relieves diabetic peripheral neuropathy. J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 3:95–103.
Zhang C, Ma YX, Yan Y. 2010. Clinical effects of acupuncture for diabetic peripheral neuropathy. J Tradit Chin Med. 30:13–14.