CSN Login
Members Online: 5

You are here

acupuncture for neuropathy

jan9wils's picture
jan9wils
Posts: 152
Joined: Mar 2017

I am sorry I don't remember who suggested that acupuncture might help with neuropathy. Awhile back I posted about my problems with neuropathy becomming worse and the things recommended by the neurologist were not working.  Well, I completed 8 sessions over 4 weeks. I would have continued but ran out of $$. Its been 12 weeks since my last session. I am happy to report I had some improvement after the first two treatments. Subsequent treatment continued to help. Since stopping the treatments, I have not had my neuropathy worsen.

Sharing to say thank you to whomever it was that suggested the treatment. Maybe someone else will be helped by this as well.

Jan

NoTimeForCancer's picture
NoTimeForCancer
Posts: 2878
Joined: Mar 2013

Thanks, Jan!  I do think it might have been Cheese Queen who talked about this, and I just had a coversation about acupuncture with someone else I knew so I am glad to hear this helped!  I hope that the treatment has a long, long, long carry over for you!

ConnieSW
Posts: 1546
Joined: Jun 2012

It is helping my friend who has severe back pain.

NoTimeForCancer's picture
NoTimeForCancer
Posts: 2878
Joined: Mar 2013

Connie!!  So good to 'see' you!  Thank you for sharing this, I know I will pass along the success stories to my co-worker.  

els19
Posts: 91
Joined: Jun 2014

I think it was Mollly that recommended acupuncture for neuropathy. I know she uses it and highly recommended it.

Maxster
Posts: 63
Joined: Apr 2020

I am glad to hear this about acupuncture.  It has been recommended to me but the cost is pretty steep and my neuropathy not so bad.  My oncologist recommended Cymbalta which is an anti-depressent/anti-anxiety medication. I am reluctant to go that route.  But it is paid for by insurance!

Molly110
Posts: 186
Joined: Oct 2019

Maxster, I had severe, early onset neuropathy and was in danger of needing to drop out of chemo or switch to a less desirable drug. My gyn/onc was very concerned about permanent, crippling damage given the degree of neuropathy I had right away. Thank God, he recommended acupuncture as something that works for some of his patients. My primary care provider at the time was from India, and she said everyone in chemo should be in acupuncture for many reasons beyond neuropathy. I immediately started going twice a week and still do go twice most weeks. My gyn/onc monitored the neuropathy from each chemo session very carefullly to determine if I could continue on taxol, and each time the acupuncture mitigated the previous cycle's damage to the extent that I was good to go on the taxol.

Because acupuncture is expensive and not covered by most insurance -- even Medicare doesn't cover it for neuropathy -- it isn't practical for many people. I made it my priority and am lucky enough to manage it, although I'm experimenting with once a week on some weeks to reduce the cost. My neuropathy is a fraction of what it was, and I discovered many other, unexpected health benefits. I had terrible, year round allergeries for decades. After just a couple of months in accupuncture, my allergies disappeared. I've been allergy free for well over a year, and it still amazes me.  I never catch anything anymore or get sick to my stomach -- all unexpected benefits of a stronger immune system from the acupuncture. At least I think immune strengthening what's behind the side benefits, but I don't know anything about Eastern medicine (and very little about Western medicine).

I sound like a bit of a nut on acupuncture, I know, but it allowed me to stay in chemo and turned the neuropathy into a very manageable condition. I've always been into evidence-based medicine and considered acupuncture too hippy dippy for me (plus I'm needle phobic). But I was desperate, and I'm so very glad that I tried it.  (One of the things the experience of the last 18 months taught me is how ignorant I am about so many things -- acupuncture was just one of those things.)

If you are able to try it, don't be put off by how long I've been in acupuncture. Many people get good results from short-term therapy, including one of the posters to this discussion. (One of the things I don't like about the platform is that it isn't possible to go back and find out who wrote what once I start a response.

Good luck with it if you decide to try it.

Molly

NoTimeForCancer's picture
NoTimeForCancer
Posts: 2878
Joined: Mar 2013

Maxster, I had not use this use for Cymbalta.  When I looked it up I found:  Duloxetine is used to treat depression and anxiety. In addition, duloxetine is used to help relieve nerve pain (peripheral neuropathy) in people with diabetes or ongoing pain due to medical conditions such as arthritis, chronic back pain, or fibromyalgia (a condition that causes widespread pain

Maybe someone here can tell us if they have been offered it by their oncologist.

Molly110
Posts: 186
Joined: Oct 2019

I tried Cymbalta last December and stuck with it for 6 weeks to give it time to work. I hated it, and it was worthess for me, in that it had no impact at all on the neuropathy. It did, however, wake me up every hour all night long for all 6 weeks. I am pretty sure that it (duloxetine) is the only drug shown to be effective on taxane and platinum chemotherapy induced neuropathy in clinical trials. It certainly doesn't work on everyone, and if I recall, the size of the effect in the trials wasn't huge, but I thought it would be worth a try so I asked my gyn/onc to prescribe it, and then stuck with it for 6 sleepless weeks. (The most common side effect is drowsiness, which is what my pharmacist cautioned me about, but an inability to fall asleep, waking up periodically, and waking up early are also common side effects.)

If you decide to try it, Maxster, know in advance that you cannot just stop. It's a drug that requires weaning off. Here's a MedPage Today article that is very pro this use of Cymbalta. https://www.medpagetoday.com/hematologyoncology/chemotherapy/33078 and a research abstract https://ascopubs.org/doi/abs/10.1200/JCO.2017.35.31_suppl.236

My gyn/onc told me that the Americak Society of Clinical Oncology makes a "moderate strength" recommendation for Cymbalta, which is the only thing they do recommend at all, I think. Here's a link to that: https://ascopost.com/News/16118

I'm not sorry I tried it, because I'm willing to try anything for which there is any effectiveness data and many things for which there is not, since so little research has been done, given the size of the problem and the growing number of people experiencing it.

Molly

lolow's picture
lolow
Posts: 12
Joined: Apr 2015

Initially, I was offered a prescription for neuropathy but opted to wait it out. I'm 5 months out from my last chemo treatment. For me, movement is very helpful. Walking. Pilates. Yoga. I recently joined an online app called OpenFit. I love the stretch routines.

What seems to make my neuropathy more pronounced is having my legs raised while I'm sitting. Ordered a couple of new LaZBoys which will allow my footrest to be below my knees. Sounds funny but it really does help! It'll be several more months before they arrive, but I'm hoping they'll be a welcome relief.

Take care, Linda

Dak82's picture
Dak82
Posts: 34
Joined: Dec 2020

This side effect is the one I was most and am most concerned about so I'm willing to try anything. I have developed some numbness in my fingers and itching and prickly feelings in my feet (this one dissipated after 2 days). This is after one chemo round at plus 14 days. Am going to first acupuncture treatment day after 2d chemo round. I love to swim, bike, run and hope to continue these activities during treatment. My mother in law is a true believer and I am willing to give it a try. I go to Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City and acupuncture is part of I tegative wellness center at a cost I deem very reasonable.

Primavera's picture
Primavera
Posts: 225
Joined: Mar 2019

Dak82, I'm curious if you're icing your hands and feet? I'm doing it and even at the cancer center, I have people asking me if what I'm carrying (little icing cooler/freezer) is a printer and almost nobody knows about icing until I get to infusion room. And then I don't see anybody doing it at the infusion room! I learned that here, but it surprises me how unknown this is.

NoTimeForCancer's picture
NoTimeForCancer
Posts: 2878
Joined: Mar 2013

Dak, please be sure to let us know how it goes.

Maxster
Posts: 63
Joined: Apr 2020

Thanks to all of you for your sharing your thoughts and experiences.  I am loath to go on the anti-depressant and those side effects scare me.  I wake up as it is!  I think I will try the acupuncture and get a recommendation from the doctor at the cancer clinic who specializes in alternate care.  If it improves immune system I am all for it.  I think that really is a benefit.  Medicare will pay for it as an anti-nausea treatment for chemo.  I think they need to expand its application.  My daughter goes for neck pain and really endorses it.  Thanks again for all your feedback.

Molly110
Posts: 186
Joined: Oct 2019

Wow, Maxster, that is great news about Medicare and acupuncture. I'm wondering if you might be in Medicare Advantage, rather than traditional Medicare? The official Medicare website says it's only covered for chronic low back pain (https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/acupuncture), and I would love to be able to let my doctor know so that he could let his current chemo patients know, even if it's only certain Medicare Advantage plans that cover it. 

The academic medical center where I get my care has acupuncturists on staff who are MDs, but that is only downtown, which wasn't possible for me because of work. So I found someoone through a friend of a friend. She is highly trained and experienced and has worked with lots of people around chemo. I wish I'd known about acupuncture  before I started -- I think my neuropathy wouldn't have been as severe had I started with acupuncture ahead of time. My acupuncturist charges $85 a session at her clinic, which is quite a bit cheaper than the downtown medical center my local hospital is affiliated with, so that made it more affordable for me. Different states have different regulations about the education and supervised practice required for licensing acupuncturists, but if your state, like mine, has stringent requirements that will give you more good choices.

For me, in addition to the finances, it has also been a time commitment. Some sessions are an hour or so, some are closer to an hour and a half. It all depends on what she does. When it was only the neuropathy, the sessions were about an hour. But after I realized my life-long allergies were gone, I asked about other things and that can make for longer sessions. I've had a couple of lovely surprises besides the allergies. Several months ago, she saw me wince when I was getting off the table and asked about it. For the past 15 years or so I've had slight pain in my right shoulder. It prevented me from sleeping on my right side, but I just assumed it was one of those late middle age things since I was about 50 when it appeared. My acupuncturist had me lie back down and she treated my shoulder. I was stunned that night to be able to sleep on my shoulder with no pain at all. About once a month or so it comes back, and she treats it in one of our regular sessions, and it's gone again for weeks. It still feels like a gift every night when I can sleep on my right side.

I wish acupuncture could make my hair grow faster -- my last chemo was January 10, and my hair hasn't even grown four inches. : ) 

Fingers crossed that it works for your neuropathy!

Molly

 

Molly110
Posts: 186
Joined: Oct 2019

Hi Maxster,

Just wanting to be sure that I didn't scare you off trying Cymbalta. It does work well for many people, and the waking up or not being able to go to sleep certainly doesn't happen to everyone. I was kind of looking forward to the most common side effect -- drowsiness -- since I was anxious and keyed up about the diagnosis and chemo. My bad luck that my body responded with the wakefulness side effect instead. Also, I think I wasn't clear that if you try it and don't like the sleep side effects and stop after a few days, you don't have to wean off it. My neuropathy at this time last year was bad enough that I wanted to stick out the whole 6 weeks of trying it. That's why I had to step down off it, rather than just stop, and I only did the half dose for an additional week.  

Molly

Subscribe to Comments for "acupuncture for neuropathy"