Neuropathy is a loss of nerve function that can occur for several reasons. Peripheral neuropathy results from an issue in your spine and can effect the arms and hands or the legs and feet. “Peripheral” means outside of the center. The peripheral nervous system is the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord. “Neuropathy” is disease or dysfunction of one or more of the nerves. Peripheral Neuropathy is damaged, sick, dying peripheral nerves.
More than 20 million in the US suffer from peripheral neuropathy. The majority are over the age of 45. That’s almost 1 out of 17 Americans have peripheral neuropathy. Many suffering from Peripheral Neuropathy have lost the ability to enjoy activities they love such as traveling, sports, social events, and enjoying family as a result of the pain, burning, numbness, tingling,difficulty walking, and other symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy.
Long term compression of nerves leads to damage over time that results in the slow death of the nerves. See the image below. This results in weakness, numbness and tingling and a loss of feeling. Patients with neuropathy in their legs and feet report trouble with walking and balance. Since the nerves also control the blood vessels, they too begin to lose function and will result in poor circulation marked by cold extremities and a color change from healthy pink to purple or even black. Other causes of neuropathy include the effects diabetes and chemotherapy drugs.
All living things require nutrients and oxygen and need to be as free of poisons and toxins as possible in order to grow, thrive and prosper. Your peripheral nerves are NO exception. When functioning normally, nerve tissues receive rich nutrients, and highly-oxygenated blood that is carried by microscopic capillaries, which are tiny-tiny-tiny blood vessels that are easily clogged. The capillaries of an individual with diabetes can clog once a great deal of glucose fills the bloodstream, which can then prevent nerve tissues from receiving the proper nutrients and oxygen necessary for survival. When tiny nutrients and oxygen carrying blood vessels become clogged, constricted and damaged circulation is decreased to the nerves. This reduction in circulation causes nerve tissues to not receive the nutrients and oxygen necessary for survival. When this happens the peripheral nerves become damaged causing neuropathy.
Types of Peripheral Neuropathy
Sensory peripheral neuropathy – damage to the peripheral nerves that carry messages of touch, temperature, pain, vibration, pressure, and other sensations to the brain
Motor peripheral neuropathy – damage to the nerves that control muscles and movements, such as walking and lifting.
Autonomic peripheral neuropathy – damage to the nerves that control involuntary bodily processes, such as breathing, digestion, blood pressure, and bladder function.
Mononeuropathy Peripheral Neuropathy – damage to a single nerve outside of the central nervous system. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome being the most common type.
Majority of patients with peripheral neuropathy have more than one of these types of peripheral neuropathies at the same time.
Most common peripheral neuropathy is a combination of sensory and motor neuropathy (sensorimotor polyneuropathy).
Peripherial Neuropathy – CNS and PNS
Symptoms of Sensory Peripheral neuropathy can include:
- Pins and needles in the affected body part most common feet and hands
- Numbness and tingling with decrease ability to feel pain or changes in temperature most common in hands and feet
- Burning or sharp pain, usually in the feet and/or hands
- Increased sensitivity feeling pain from something that should not be painful at all, such as a very light touch
- Difficulty walking, loss of balance, or coordination caused by less ability to tell the position of the feet or hands
Symptoms of Motor Peripheral Neuropathy can include:
- Muscle weakness one or more muscles
- Muscle atrophy -wasting of the muscles
- Cramping, twitching and muscle spasms
- Walking difficulty due to loss of motor control of the foot.
- diarrhoea or constipation often at night
- feeling bloated and sick
- tachycardia-rapid heartbeat
- low blood pressure, which can make you feel dizzy when you stand up from sitting or lying down
- lack of sweating or excessive sweating or a problems with
- loss of bowel control issues
- bladder control issues emptying the bladder of urine
- sexual dysfunction, such as erectile dysfunction in men.
Depending on the specific nerve affected, symptoms of Mononeuropathy Peripheral Neuropathy can include:
- abnormal sensation or weakness in the toes or fingers
- Leg and foot pain, weakness or abnormal sensations.
- weakness of one side of your face causing a droopy face (Bell’s palsy)
- vision focusing problems, double vision, and eye pain
What are the risk factors and causes of Peripheral Neuropathy?
Metabolic/Chemical - Risk Factors
- Drugs / Prescription Medication
- War Toxins / Industrial Toxins
Diabetes is the most common metabolic cause of Peripheral Neuropathy. Nearly 70% of individuals diagnosed with diabetes develop Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy. Approximately 86,000 Americans each year undergo diabetic amputations. These amputations are a result of uncontrolled peripheral neuropathy.
Mechanical/Compressive – Risk Factors
Bulged and Herniated Disc(s)
Mechanical causes of peripheral neuropathy causes are very common, and are most often a result from mechanical joint problems, which compress the nerves that emit from the spine. The chiropractic profession calls this condition a SUBLUXATION. This word essentially translates to a state of sub-optimal energy. In mechanical compressive forms of peripheral neuropathy, the direct physical pressures placed on the nerves by aberrant joint function shuts down the flow of O2 and nutrients to the nerves. Compressive peripheral neuropathy in the upper or lower spine (cervical, thoracic, lumbar and/or sacral) nerves can cause functional motor (weakness, stiffness, tightness, constrict) and sensory (numbness, tingling, burning, sharp pain) changes for the nerves of the hip, legs, ankle and feet. Chiropractic adjustments help to relieve the pressure on the nerves so they can function optimally.
Genetic/Hereditary – Risk Factors
The final category for Neuropathy pertains to genetics or hereditary traits. They include neurological challenges, such as Friedriech’s Ataxia and Charcot Marie Tooth Disease. Although these examples of Neuropathy are still extremely significant to those afflicted, these diseases are fairly rare and make up less than 1% of the population.
The most common medical treatment for neuropathy are medications to control the symptoms (pain). Gabapentin is commonly used to help control the pain, but unfortunately, does nothing to actually treat the root cause of this condition. Most patients are told that they just have to live with it.
Our office takes a multi-pronged approach to help individuals with neuropathy.
- Chiropractic Care helps reduce nerve and spinal cord pressure at the source. Optimal spinal alignment results in optimal nerve function.
- SoftWave TRT Therapy improves circulation almost immediately, triggers angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels), decreases inflammation and
triggers nerve elongation AND nerve regeneration. All of these responses helps reverse the cause of neuropathy. SoftWave TRT Therapy alone
has a 65 to 91% success rate with musculoskeletal conditions.
- Nutritional Recommendations to aid your body in functioning better and to speed up your recovery.
- Thermography used to monitor your response. Non-invasive technology shows your circulation as your care progresses.
Hand Thermography showing cold left hand Foot Thermography showing poor circulation