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Peripheral Neuropathy

By Jutta Brassil

Peripheral neuropathy is a syndrome composed of sensory, motor and vasomotor symptoms which may occur singly or in combination caused by simultaneous disease of a number of different nerves.

This condition is usually secondary to collagen vascular conditions, such as polyarteritis nodosa, scleroderma and RA, metabolic diseases such as diabetes mellitus and hypothyroidism, external agents or poisoning such as heavy metals, many solvents and various drugs.

The symptoms of this syndrome may include bilateral numbness and insensitivities, tingling, burning pain, muscle weakness and atrophy. Pain is frequently worse at night and may be aggravated by touch and temperature changes.

This case history describes the treatment of a 25 year old male M.T. , sent to me by his GP.

M.T. works as a chef in restaurant, and accidentally got his entire right forearm into a deep fat frier. He had been hospitalised for the most of four weeks.

I got to see M.T. six weeks after his accident, he had been prescribed analgesics and anti inflammatory medication. M.T. presented his right forearm and right hand with severe burn marks, red/ purple and hot skin, extensive scar tissue. His right hand and its fingers were numb, tingling burning sensation at the wrist joint. He was not able to close his hand, finger movement reduced, increased hot painful sensations at night in the hand up to his upper arm.

The first treatment included gentle palpitation of arm muscles, soft tissue, wrist and phalangeal joints and the cervical spine. There has been numbness around fingers and phalangeal joints, pain from wrist to elbow, slighter pain as far as the head of humerus.

Since the injury caused a lot of trauma for M.T. , he was
anxious about acupuncture needles and electro stimulation. We agreed on using small acupuncture needles, and to insert one needle at a time with a little rest before the next needle and give M.T. the option to stop during the treatment at any time.

I began inserting acupuncture needles at the cervical spine,
parallel to the nerve exits at C5, C6, C7 and T1 so we could effect the medial, posterior and lateral cords of the brachial plexus nerves. I continued needle insertion down the muscles of the arm, following the nerve distribution to effect the radial and medial antebrachial cutaneous nerve, the superficial branch of the radial, median and ulnar nerves. The depth of needle insertion was between half and one centimetre. I inserted needles into acupuncture points of the wrist, and between the metacarpals. I applied electro stimulation on the needles in the hand, wrist and lower arm. The first session lasted 45 minutes.

After completion of the first session M.T. felt unpleasant tingling sensation in his hand.

The second treatment was two days after the first session. M.T. gave positive feedback regards sensation in fingers and wrist. He felt more of a tingling rather numbness, could move fingers slightly up and down, attempt to close hand to fist was too painful. Heat sensation at night. I repeated treatment as in first treatment.

The third treatment was four days after the second session. The feedback from M.T. was very positive. The numbness was completely gone, slight tingly, no burning sensation and he could move all fingers to fist. I repeated the acupuncture treatment as outlined, increased electro stimulation this time. After the acupuncture treatment we did some physio treatment with a tennis ball to activate the muscle function of the hand
and fingers.

The fourth and final treatment was four days after the third session. M.T. was delighted, with his own words he described it as his hand being the same and normal as it was before the accident. I repeated the same treatment except for needling the cervical spine.

In addition I would like to mention that it was of real importance that M.T. came for his acupuncture treatment so soon after his hospital release and first wound healing. Would more time have elapsed between these two stages, it most certainly would have taken more acupuncture treatments to get the same results.

Jutta Brassil , Physiotherapist, Dipl. Ph.Ed., Lic. Ac. TCMCI
Clonbony, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare

Tel. 087 2546827

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