Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not acupuncture is an effective treatment for diabetic peripheral neuropathy

STUDY DESIGN: Review of three English language primary studies, one published in 2007 and two of which were published in 2010.

DATA SOURCES: Randomized controlled trials investigating the use of acupuncture for the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). Sources were found using PubMed and Cochrane databases.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: The outcomes measured include the severity of pain from DPN, blood glucose control, and effects on quality of life such as sleep, mood states, and gain or loss of sensations. The tools used to measure were the participant’s opinions on whether the symptoms were relieved, improved, or failed to improve, the 11-point Likert Scale daily pain severity score, glucose levels or use of insulin, nerve conduction velocity, and standardized and comprehensive questionnaires provided to participants.

RESULTS: Two of the three studies results supported acupuncture for the treatment of DPN. Ahn et al demonstrated that acupuncture improved blood circulation, controlled blood glucose, and helped promote functional recovery of damaged nerves. Tong et al determined that acupuncture improved nerve conduction velocity and decreased the painful symptoms of DPN. According to Zhang et al, results were inconclusive due to the small sample size however, did suggest improvement in patients symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of the RCT’s reviewed are inconclusive however, do suggest that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for DPN. Due to small sample sizes and limitations within studies, this topic does warrant additional research. Further studies conducted should include patients that are acupuncture naïve and blinded to the type of acupuncture administered.