Upcoming Study to Test Efficacy of Acupuncture in Treating Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

doctor holding needle
doctor holding needle
Investigators hypothesize that needle and laser acupuncture may improve clinical and subjective symptoms in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Researchers have designed a randomized controlled trial to examine the effects of acupuncture on diabetic peripheral neuropathy, according to a study protocol recently published in BMC Neurology.

This partially double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial will examine the efficacy of acupuncture as a treatment for diabetic peripheral neuropathy in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus via nerve conduction studies. The study researchers will randomly assign 180 participants into 3 groups: verum laser acupuncture, needle acupuncture, and placebo laser acupuncture. The study researchers hypothesize that both laser and needle acupuncture groups will experience positive benefits in terms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy symptoms compared with the placebo group.

The primary outcome of this study will be sural sensory nerve action potential amplitude, and secondary outcomes will include tibial motor nerve action potential amplitude, a score for neuropathy deficit and neuropathy symptoms, tibial motor nerve conduction velocity, numeric rating scale questionnaires, and sural sensory nerve conduction velocity.

Individuals with diabetic peripheral neuropathy experience muscle weakness, painful sensory sensations, a reduction in nerve function, and numbness. This nerve damage is currently treated using antidepressants and anticonvulsants, which do not help problems with gait, balance, and decreased sensation. There is evidence that the traditional Chinese method of acupuncture may complement diabetic peripheral neuropathy treatments.

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The study organizers state, “[the] ACUDIN trial aims at investigating whether classical needle acupuncture and/or laser acupuncture are efficacious in the treatment of [diabetic peripheral neuropathy]. For the purpose of an objective parameter, [nerve conduction studies] were chosen as outcome measures. Acupuncture treatment may potentially improve patients’ quality of life and reduce the socio-economic burden caused by [diabetic peripheral neuropathy].

The ACUDIN trial is funded by the HanseMerkur Insurance Group and the Innovation Foundation.


Meyer-Hamme G, Friedemann T, Greten HJ, Plaetke R, Gerloff C, Schroeder S. ACUDIN – ACUpuncture and laser acupuncture for treatment of DIabetic peripheral Neuropathy: a randomized, placebo-controlled, partially double-blinded trial [published online April 13, 2018]. BMC Neurol. doi: 10.1186/s12883-018-1037-0.