Acupuncture — an ancient Chinese medicine practice — has been used for hundreds of years to help treat certain painful health conditions. These days, many people swear by the healing power of acupuncture for everything from neck pain and headaches to knee and back pain.
But what about the pain caused by diabetes? While studies have shown acupuncture to be an effective treatment option for certain conditions, can acupuncture help diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, and other related pain?
Here’s a quick look at how this traditional practice may help those diagnosed with diabetes.
How does acupuncture work?
Acupuncture is a technique that uses extremely fine, sterile needles to activate specific points of the body. Once inserted, these needles may be subjected to movement, electricity, or heat to further stimulate the body and help relieve certain types of pain.
In 1997, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued a consensus statement discussing acupuncture as a safe and effective method for treating certain conditions. In the years since this statement, further research has been conducted regarding the efficacy of acupuncture.
Is acupuncture safe for diabetics?
Before we ask, “will acupuncture help diabetes”, let’s talk about safety. Is it safe for diabetics to receive acupuncture treatments? The answer is generally, yes.
Acupuncture is considered safe when performed by trained and licensed professionals who are using sterile equipment. Inexperienced acupuncturists or non-sterile equipment can cause considerable damage.
It is important to note that while acupuncture is considered safe for diabetics and non-diabetics alike, there are still some risks involved. These include:
- Minor bruising, bleeding, and soreness
- Risk of infection from non-sterile equipment
- Damage caused by broken needles
Acupuncture isn’t recommended for those who have a bleeding disorder, a pacemaker, are pregnant, or are taking certain medications such as blood thinners.
Also, keep in mind that acupuncture should not be used as a standalone treatment option for diabetes. While it may help relieve pain associated with conditions such as diabetic neuropathy, headaches, and more, it is not a diabetes treatment. It should be used as a supplement to insulin therapy, prescribed medications, and any other treatments recommended by your doctor.
Will acupuncture help diabetes? The potential benefits of this practice
Though further research is still needed, acupuncture does appear to have several potential benefits for diabetic patients. Some of these benefits include:
Regulating blood sugar
Acupuncture may help regulate blood sugar and insulin levels by lowering glucose levels and enhancing glucose tolerance while increasing insulin levels. This may help improve the way the body uses insulin.
Diabetes can lead to painful complications such as neuropathy, but studies have shown that acupuncture may be able to help treat painful symptoms associated with such conditions. Some recent studies indicate that it may help with diabetic foot problems as well, though more research is needed.
Aiding weight loss and management
Weight loss and maintenance can play an important role in managing certain forms of diabetes. Acupuncture and diet changes may help assist in weight loss.
Encouraging positive feelings
Diabetes can have negative mental and physical effects. Acupuncture may help reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Acupuncture techniques are believed to encourage the release of endorphins to help relieve stress, boost feelings of well-being, and improve your mood.
Treating diabetic pain without needles
So, is acupuncture good for diabetes? It may be. But remember, acupuncture is by no means a cure and it doesn’t offer results for everyone.
The most common use of acupuncture is to relieve pain — but for some people, this tactic just doesn’t work. Whether you’ve tried acupuncture without results or aren’t interested in this procedure, rest assured that there are plenty of other ways to help manage diabetic pain. From pain medications to diabetic socks and compression socks, acupuncture is by no means the only treatment option available to you.
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