When you get to that stage where you feel constantly tired and slightly fed up that nothing works with chronic pain, many turn to alternative treatments for answers. The truth is that as most holistic therapies haven’t been scientifically tested and therefore we’re completely reliant on personal testimonies.
That being said, what treatments are out there?
We know that while there isn’t a cure for genetic conditions, there are some benefits from certain non-Western medicines, one being acupuncture. But does it help? According to Dr. Andrew Weill, an American celebrity doctor, it can help relieve the pain of peripheral neuropathy.
Disclaimer: Please ask your GP or medical practitioner before attempting any treatments included on this website.
Acupuncture uses pressure points throughout the body to realign the body’s energy, called the qi. The age-old art of acupuncture has been used–along with more conventional means to ease the pain felt from peripheral neuropathy, and even hereditary neuropathic conditions such as Charcot Marie-Tooth disorder (CMT).
While Dr. Weill doesn’t elaborate on how it can help, a 2014 study on the sister condition of HNPP, CMT, found that after several sessions, it had made a difference in the long-term. A 43-year-old woman with complaints of moderate-to-severe neuropathic pain and limited mobility had four sessions of acupuncture, but reported quite a lot of pain during the treatment. A month later, however, she had managed to begin to walk with the help of orthotics and the pain had significantly reduced.
This could be a one off case, as even the British Acupuncture Council are unable to substantiate the treatment for genetic conditions, stating that because HNPP is rather rare, it is difficult to gather enough individuals with the same symptoms for a trial in China. They say, never say ‘never’, though. Experience is equally that an although an ‘imbalance’ may have been handed down from parent to child this does not that it becomes more greatly untreatable.
With peripheral neuropathy, the BAC say while acupuncture treatment may mitigate some of the symptoms which peripheral neuropathy sufferers experience, there is obviously a limit to what a treatment like acupuncture can achieve. But together with other treatments, it may help ease some of the pain aspect of it especially with hard muscles.
Personally, I’ve had a few sessions, but you really need to find a good therapist you can trust for this.
Acupressure, on the other hand, activates the same points as acupuncture but uses finger pressure instead of needles. Practitioners employ massage protocol to improve circulation and acupuncture to relieve pain. It may be another option to consider but there’s even less research out there. And it may be the better choice for those afraid of needles.
This practice is a system of massage used to relieve tension and treat illness, based on the theory that there are reflex points on the feet, hands, and head linked to every part of the body. In similitude to the theory to acupressure, reflexologists believe that applying appropriate pressure to these points stimulates the flow of energy, thus helping to relieve pain or congestions throughout the entire body.
Reflexologists believe that through light to moderate pressure techniques, a stable rhythm of information can be sent and received through the Central Nervous System. But does it help? Dr. Weill seems to think so.
According to reflexology therapist, Nicole Banner, the treatment that she used as part of a report, was effective in helping to improve the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy (especially the tingling, numbness, and stabbing pains) of a 64-year-old man. She did iterate that it should be seen as a “complementary” therapy, rather than the full shebang.
The test subject, who has peripheral neuropathy, reportedly tried to control his pain with medication (Lyrica). The medication did not work so he tried eight weeks of therapeutic treatment involving nerve block injections and Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS Unit electrical stimulation), where he saw a slight improvement.
After five sessions of reflexology, he noted that his balance “improved significantly, his sleep quality has improved to the point of not needing pain medication at bedtime, and the numbness and tingling sensations are mild”.
Mims Cushing, co-author of You Can Cope With Peripheral Neuropathy, and a sufferer of peripheral neuropathy herself lists several therapies including reflexology. Her advice is: “If you like to try anything once, try reflexology. You may be surprised at how great your feet feel, but you do need to keep coming back for longer lasting results.” 
For more successful case studies on reflexology and hereditary neuropathy, read the report from the Reflexology Association of Australia.
After speaking to several people in the HNPP suppport groups, it seems that chiropractic therapy has been beneficial to several members. According to chiropractor Dr. Paul Raveling, who treats peripheral neuropathy patients at his practice, Raveling Chiropractic Center, P.A, while chiropractic care is not a ‘cure’ for peripheral neuropathy, it is an important part of an effective treatment program.
“Chiropractic care is an effective treatment for peripheral neuropathy because it targets the root cause for a patient’s pain symptoms; we do not simply rely on medication to numb this pain,” he says.
Neuropathy of the arms and legs is apparently the second most common ailment treated by chiropractors, according to the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. When the vertebral joints of the spine begin to degenerate, it can press on the roots of the spinal nerves, causing the classic symptoms of neuropathy. Chiropractors are said to relieve pressure by performing spinal adjustments to bring the vertebrae back into alignment, releasing trapped or compressed nerves.
According to a study published in the British Medical Journal in 2004, chiropractic adjustments, “with or without exercise, improved symptoms more than medical care did after both 3 and 12 months.”
Cushing, who also mentions chiropractic as an alternative treatment, says that as long as you collaborate completely with your physician, it should be find to go ahead.
Unfortunately, the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy has also reported certain ponzi schemes attempting to con people out of their money through bogus chiropractors so beware. In some circumstances, they’ve made people worse.
Magnetic therapy has begun to be used as an alternative treatment for many conditions including peripheral neurotherapy. It consists of using magnets of varying sizes and strengths that are placed on the body to relieve pain and treat disease. Thin metal magnets are attached to the body alone or in groups. They can be worn as bracelets or necklaces, attached to adhesive patches to hold in place, placed in bands or belts to be wrapped around the wrist, elbow, knee, ankle, foot, waist, or lower back.
Dr. Michael I. Weintraub, a clinical professor of neurology and internal medicine at New York Medical College, who has done extensive studies of magnetic therapy, says that it has had some benefits to those with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
A study of 375 diabetics who wore a magnetic device for one month (with control subjects who wore a sham device) showed “benefits equal to or better than that from drugs,” he said.
However, there is little research to show the advantages for those with hereditary neuropathy and there are some that say it is a bit of a sham.
If you’ve tried other holistic treatments, please feel free to share!
- (Page 78, “You Can Cope With Peripheral Neuropathy: 365 Tips For Living A Full Life”, Cushing, Mims and Latov, Norman)
UPDATE: I’ve added another treatment since the initial post after several recommendations.