Acupuncture To Treat Raynaud’s Syndrome

Recently People’s Pharmacy wrote that acupuncture can treat Raynaud’s syndrome. Yes I have seen acupuncture help many of my patients with Raynaud’s syndrome over the years.

Raynaud’s syndrome occurs when the blood vessels constrict in the hands and toes causing the fingers or toes to turn white or blue. It can have numbness, burning or other painful sensations. It occurs with cold exposure. Even just what many of us would consider cool can trigger the Raynaud’s response.  When the hands and feet warm up, the color returns to normal. Just getting something out of the refrigerator can trigger it. In the summer touching ice has triggered many of my patients. Even too cold of a room can cause it to occur. Some go shopping with gloves on or to the refrigerator with gloves. Of course there are people with only mild problems and then others with the extremes.

A study was reported in the Journal of Internal Medicine in February 1997. The study was done out of Dartmouth during the winter months and showed that the blood vessels constricted less in the acupuncture treated group. They showed a 63% improvement in symptoms with less burning, numbness and pain and also decreased the number of episodes of pain.

Over the years I have treated several people with Raynaud’s Syndrome. In Chinese Medicine it can be because the channels are not nourished for varying reasons. One of the treatments is to use the points that nourish the channels affected and then usually the lung and spleen energy needs to be increased so the acupuncture points that do this are also treated. Sometimes a few treatments suffice to help for quite awhile and then in others it takes a lot of treatment to help. In the latter it is usually because the underlying deficiencies in qi or blood take a while to improve enough to help nourish the channels so they are able to act normally.

Often I see patients for a different problem but during the history or later during treatment find they also have Raynaud’s syndrome with the white fingers and toes along with the pain and numbness. They may even just mention that their fingers are much better without my even knowing about the problem until the acupuncture for the other problem also helped improve the Raynaud’s symptoms. In this case both the treated problem and the Raynaud’s had a similar imbalance that was being addressed so the Raynaud’s symptoms also improved. It is one of the powers of acupuncture to help many other symptoms as the underlying imbalances are addressed.

K Bynum, DO