A neurological disorder refers to a problem with the nervous system, which is a complex, sophisticated system that regulates and coordinates the body’s activities. Nerve pain can arise from trauma, inflammation, stroke, disease, infection, nerve degeneration, exposure to toxic chemicals and nutrient deficiencies.
Nerve pain is usually a sharp shooting pain or a constant burning sensation. Typically occurring in the same location with each episode, it can often be traced along the nerve pathway. Sometimes weakness or impaired function in the affected area occurs and the skin may be either overly sensitive or numb.
Some neurological disorders acupuncture can provide symptom relief from include:
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an irreversible neurological disease that destroys the nerve cells, or neurons, that invigorate our muscles. Neurons are found in the brain and spinal cord, which comprise the central nervous system (CNS).
As these cells weaken and wither, so do the muscles associated with them. Ultimately, this leads to a paralysis of those muscles.
Early warning symptoms of the disease include weakness and fatigue of the arms or legs, and sometimes difficulty with speaking clearly.
Other symptoms that may appear in early stages of ALS include:
● Problems walking, including tripping and dragging the feet
● Tired and weak feet, ankles and knees
● Cramping, trembling, and twitching of arms and shoulders
● Tongue spasms
● Difficulty keeping head upright
In later stages of the disease, more severe symptoms reveal themselves. The muscles responsible for breathing, swallowing and moving the body deteriorate to the point where they can no longer function.
There is no known cure as of yet. The causes of ALS are not well understood, but it is accepted that genetics and chemical imbalances within the brain may play a role in developing the disease.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can assist in managing the symptoms of ALS, including muscle weakness and cramping, fatigue and emotional issues.
According to acupuncture and Oriental medicine, the kidneys are responsible for the production and control of a vital substance called marrow, which, in turn, produces essential components that make up a healthy central nervous system.
The brain is considered a repository for marrow, and is thus termed the sea of marrow. When the kidneys are deficient, this condition can negatively impact the central nervous system.
When kidney deficiency occurs, it is important to nourish and revitalize them, so they can in turn help nourish and revitalize the brain.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Also known as median nerve entrapment, it occurs when swelling or irritation of the nerve or tendons in the carpal tunnel results in pressure on the median nerve.
Headaches – Headaches that can be treated with acupuncture include migraines, tension headaches, headaches occurring around the menstrual cycle, sinus headaches and stress-related headaches.
Myasthenia Gravis –
Myasthenia gravis is a neuromuscular disorder causing muscles under voluntary control to tire and become easily fatigued. This happens when the muscles and the nerves that enervate them miscommunicate. More than half of those diagnosed with myasthenia gravis present with eye problems as their first symptoms. This primarily includes droopy eyelids (ptosis) and double-vision (diplopia). However, roughly 15 percent of sufferers reported their first symptoms started in the face or throat muscles. These symptoms included difficulty talking, chewing, swallowing and breathing.
Someone who has difficulties with the face or throat muscles as a result of having myasthenia gravis, may experience altered speech, limited facial expressions, difficulty swallowing, and chewing may become an exhausting activity. The most severe symptom is what is called a ‘myasthenia crisis,’ in which the muscles used for breathing no longer function. This is a life-threatening condition and emergency medical help is needed immediately.
As myasthenia gravis may affect any muscle under voluntary control, weakness could occur in other areas besides the face and throat. The arms generally are more affected than the legs, and symptoms may present in the hands and feet, although this is not as common.
The exact cause of this condition is unknown, but researchers have learned that the disease prompts the immune system to block signals from the nerve to the muscles. There is also evidence that a protein helping the muscles to receive messages is prevented from doing so. It is also believed genetics may play a role.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine can be used to support the treatment you receive from your primary care provider. As this disease is complex, all the things that bother you are reviewed, not just the signs and symptoms specifically related to it. This may include questions about your quality of sleep, digestive functions and emotional state.
Let’s say, for example, that you first notice fatigue in the legs becoming a problem and then over the next few months poor appetite and frequent diarrhea are added as the latest symptoms, the diagnosis may be one of Qi deficiency in the stomach and spleen. Qi is the most fundamental, indispensable energy needed for life to exist. Treatment may focus on strengthening the Qi in the stomach and spleen to help the body produce a high-quality, healthy supply of blood to aid weakened leg muscles. An improved stomach and spleen can bring back the appetite and help stop diarrhea. It can also help make extracting nutrients from food more efficient, which, in turn, supports the immune and nervous systems. It is important to maintain realistic expectations as treatment is only used for symptom management.
Peripheral Neuropathy – Presenting as damage to the peripheral nervous system, which transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to every other part of the body, this kind of neuropathy can be caused by diabetes and often affects the feet.
Trigeminal Neuralgia – Facial pain, sometimes called Tic Douloureux, affects the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for impulses of touch, pain, pressure and temperature sent to the brain from the face, jaw and gums.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine have been found effective as a conjunctive therapy for several neurological disorders and in treating pain and inflammation.