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Acupuncture/peripheral neuropathy


Michael, In cutting to the chase, I have two questions.  After reading about my situation below, do you think that acupuncture would work for me, and if so, could you recommend a good one in Houston.  A few weeks ago, I started experiencing some pain in my shoulder (rotator cuff area), and I thought at the time that I just slept on it wrong.  However, it has continued to get worse.  I have been receiving massage therapy and treatment from my chiropractor, who has told me my symptoms (pain in the forearm and upper arm, and shoulder along with numbness in my fingers and loss of muscle strength) are indicative of brachial plexis neuritis. This condition has certainly been an idiopathic one.  He has recommended an MRI to help confirm his diagnosis. The pain is sometimes quite severe and keeps me from sleeping well. So I decided to look into acupuncture to see if it could help me with condition. I imagine that acupuncturists could be like chiropractors in that some are very good and some are a waste of time. Hopefully, you can help me, because I am really tired of struggling with the daily pain threshold.  Taking 1000mg of ibuprofen just takes the edge off for a few hours, and as you know, it's not healthy to continue that regimen over an extended period of time.

Dear Michael -

I don't believe that peripheral neuropathy is a correct or sufficiently precise term to describe what you have going on.  Since you are not sitting in front of me right now, I can only say that a physical exam and interview would be necessary to speak in specific terms.  In general, what you describe could be coming from several different causes.  Brachial plexus neuritis is a relatively uncommon condition characterized by pain preceding weakness; it needs to be differentiated from cervical spondylopathies that usually occur with simultaneous pain and weakness.  An MRI may be helpful, as would electromyography (EMG).  An acupuncturist familiar with a neuro-anatomical approach might also be helpful.  If it is in fact brachial plexus neuritis, you can assume that you will recover from this although that may take several months.  Pain is usually sufficiently severe as to require narcotics, so you should be treated by a medical doctor.  In nineteen years I can only recall two cases of true brachial plexus neuritis in my practice; these were seen about a week apart and both had had a flu shot on the involved side a couple of weeks before.  Both recovered after some time.

In terms of recommending someone in the Houston area, I am of no help.  I have never practiced in Texas and do not know anyone there.

I encourage you to see a physician about the pain control issues.  There are much better pharmaceuticals for this type of pain than ibuprofen.  

I wish you well and am sorry that I cannot offer much more specific information.

Malama pono - - -

Mike Zanoni


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Michael M. Zanoni, MS, LAc


I am knowledgeable about severe and chronic pain from musculoskeletal or neurological conditions, especially trauma, headache, and fibromyalgia. I can provide guidance that will assist healing and recovery after illness or surgery. I have a particular interest in long-term chronic conditions that are becoming progressively worse or intermittently severe (such as viral hepatitis, Crohn's, or Takayasu syndrome.) I have extensive experience treating endocrine disorders, such as diabetes or thyroid problems, where the primary condition is being monitored by a Western-trained physician, and cancer where there are specific treatment goals other than cure (e.g., decrease of pain; reduction of side effects of radiation and chemotherapy; lessening of edema; palliative treatment of associated conditions.) I do not treat or answer questions about infertility, ALS, or senile dementia.


I have practiced Oriental medicine for over sixteen years in a variety of settings. Much of my practice has centered around a busy clinic specializing in severe long-term chronic pain conditions and palliative care. For several years I worked in a hospice program. I also established a non-profit community clinic providing care to under-served and homeless patients. My work has found me in an HIV clinic in San Francisco, a busy private practice in Oregon, to traveling on muddy 4-wheel drive roads to see dying patients. I now teach acupuncture and Oriental medicine at a school in Hawaii.

My training was at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco where I received a masterís degree in Chinese Medicine. I have current board certifications in Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture, and Chinese Herbology from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. I also have certifications in Chinese tui na bodywork, Physical Rehabilitation Training, and biofeedback. I am licensed to practice acupuncture and Oriental medicine in Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. I also have BA, MS, and PhD degrees in subjects not directly related to Oriental medicine.

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