Acupuncture in the Treatment of Painful Diabetic Neuropathy
Schlaich, Brianna J.
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Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy and affects up to one third of patients with diabetes. The pathophysiology of DPN is unknown, making it difficult to treat. Pharmacological treatments have limited efficacy and substantial side effects. Acupuncture has been practiced for thousands of years in China and other Asian countries and is accepted by Western culture as a complimentary therapy for pain relief. Though further research is needed, existing studies evaluating acupuncture as a treatment for DPN look promising. With a positive risk-benefit ratio compared to other available treatments, acupuncture is a viable treatment option for DPN. The purposes of this paper are to review the literature on the use of acupuncture for the treatment of DPN and to offer recommendations for nurse practitioners in the United States. This paper examines the literature on (1) the disease characteristics and management of DPN, (2) the physiology and use of acupuncture in Eastern and Western health care, and (3) the evidence supporting the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of peripheral neuropathy and DPN. Recommendations for nurse practitioners in the United States and for further research are then discussed.