Acupuncture has been used to treat neuropathic pain for a very long time, but until recently nobody has been able to explain why it works.
Neuropathic pain is a chronic condition often caused by peripheral or central nerve injury, or in some cases anticancer treatments including chemotherapy, and can lead to serious long-term neurological dysfunction, including hyperalgesia (heightened sensitivity to pain) and other chronic pain problems.
Fortunately for many people acupuncture has proven to be an effective treatment modality, and a research team from Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China has published their findings on what they believe the mechanisms of action are.
The team, led by Ziyong Ju, looked at the expression of ephrin-Bs/EphBs in the spinal dorsal horn using rat models of neuropathic pain.
What they were able to confirm is that acupuncture is associated with ephrin-B/EphB signaling for neuropathic pain and the recovery of neurological function, pointing towards that signaling pathway as the likely mechanism of action in using acupuncture against neuropathic pain.
Their findings, published in the journal Neural Regeneration Research, could lead to better applications of treatment for both neuropathic injury and the associated pain.