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Neurogenic pruritus: an unrecognised problem? A retrospective case series of treatment by acupuncture

Anthony Stellon
Acupuncture in Medicine: Journal of the British Medical Acupuncture Society 2002, 20 (4): 186-90
Intractable localised segmental pruritus without a rash has been reported over the years under various titles depending on the area of the body affected. Notalgia paresthetica and brachioradial pruritus are the two terms used for what is believed to be a form of neuropathy. The clinical observations reported here suggest that other localised cases of pruritus exist that share common clinical features, and the term neurogenic pruritus is suggested to encompass these under one clinical condition. Acupuncture has been used to treat skin conditions, of which pruritus is one symptom. This retrospective study looked at the symptomatic relief of neurogenic pruritus in 16 patients using acupuncture. In 12 cases the affected dermatomes of the body were innervated by cervical spinal nerves, seven innervated by dorsal spinal nerves and four innervated by the lumbar spinal nerves. Seven patients had areas affected by two different regions of the spine. Restricted neck or back movements were noted in patients as were areas of paravertebral spasm or tenderness of the muscles. Total resolution of symptoms as judged by VAS occurred in 75% of patients. Relapse occurred in 37% of patients within 1-12 months following treatment. Acupuncture appeared to be effective in alleviating the distressing symptom of itching in patients presenting with neurogenic pruritus.

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