The Case for Local Needling in Successful Randomized Controlled Trials of Peripheral Neuropathy: A Follow-Up Systematic Review

Alexandra Dimitrova, Charles Murchison, Barry Oken

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objectives: This work follows-up on a systematic review, published in 2017, of acupuncture for the treatment of mono- and polyneuropathy and associated symptoms. Previously reviewed trials of acupuncture for neuropathy primarily used acupuncture points in close proximity to underlying nerves. Further exploration of point selection for the treatment of each neuropathic condition is needed to assess the anatomical relationships between acupuncture points and peripheral nerves with respect to the treatment of neuropathy. Methods: The 13 randomized controlled trials included in the original review studied acupuncture for neuropathy caused by diabetes, Bell's palsy, carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and idiopathic causes. The present review reexamines all acupuncture points used, focusing on specific neuropathic condition treated. Anatomical diagrams are presented to highlight acupuncture points underlying the nerves' anatomical relationships. Each selected acupuncture point is reviewed in detail, including its Traditional Chinese Medicine theory-based function, the point's indications for use, and the peripheral nerve most closely associated with it. Results: In Bell's palsy, the majority of selected acupuncture points were associated with the ipsilateral facial nerve. In CTS, the majority of the selected acupuncture points were closely associated with the median nerve and its branches. In polyneuropathy caused by diabetes, HIV, or idiopathic causes, most selected acupuncture points were in close proximity to peripheral nerves. Conclusions: All reviewed trials of acupuncture for neuropathy and neuropathic pain use acupuncture points that are closely associated with the peripheral nerves treated. Local needling is crucial for successful treatment of peripheral neuropathy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)179-191
Number of pages13
JournalMedical Acupuncture
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2018


  • acupuncture
  • electroacupuncture
  • mononeuropathy
  • neuropathic pain
  • point selection
  • polyneuropathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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