Introduction & Overview:
PN is the result of damage to the peripheral nerves of the body. Most commonly, the nerves of the extremities are damaged due to reduced blood supply. As nerves are deprived of oxygen and nutrients, that results from decreased circulation, they begin to malfunction and degenerate.
Initially, this may show up as hypersensitivity, pain, numbness, itching, pins & needles, or several other uncomfortable sensations. These symptoms are indications that damage has already taken place. Once it begins, it will continue to progress, and it can lead to some very severe consequences if allowed to do so.
The most important thing to prevent progression of peripheral neuropathy is to seek out a treatment program that is focused on slowing or reversing the progression of the degeneration. DO NOT ignore it, learn to live with it, or just mask the pain. The longer you delay addressing the underlying cause, the greater the likelihood that it will lead to severe debility.
We can perform several simple, non-invasive, pain-free tests to help determine the degree of damage. That information along with information derived from your history and consultation will help us to design and recommend a restorative program for you.
Common Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
What causes Peripheral Neuropathy? There are over 100 documented causes.
Common Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
Actual Causes Continued
The above are ‘conditions’ associated with PN but are not really the direct cause of it. The DIRECT cause of virtually all PN is a reduction in circulation to the nerves. There are MANY things that interfere with circulation and contribute to damage to the blood vessels. Consider the fact that Circulatory problems are one of the most common basic health challenges there is. They lead to Heart Attacks and Strokes when they compromise blood flow to the heart and brain, respectively. When the tiny capillaries (i.e., the microcirculation) are affected, it leads to reduced blood supply, and therefore reduced oxygen & nutrient delivery to all the tissues of the body including the peripheral nerves. When the nerves are deprived of the oxygen and other nutrients they need to repair, maintain themselves, and function properly, they begin to malfunction and ultimately degenerate.
Therefore, the basic underlying mechanism that leads to virtually all PN is compromised circulation.
Here’s a Diagram of the basic problem in someone with diabetes.
The process is basically the same regardless of what is causing the reduced blood supply. As the circulation is reduced, the nerves no longer receive proper nutrition & oxygen. That causes damage to the protective covering on the outside of the nerves and ultimately leads to widespread damage and degeneration.
Nerve Damage Progression
The diagram above represents the typical progression of damage and degeneration that results from reduced nutrient supply or direct damage or impingement of the nerves.
What are the treatment options for Peripheral Neuropathy?
Medications typically used include:
Pain medications ranging from over-the-counter pain meds, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to opioids. These do not address the underlying cause of the problem and is simply focused on masking the pain.
Anti-seizure medications such as gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin, Horizant) and pregabalin (Lyrica). These medications were developed primarily to treat epilepsy and may relieve ‘nerve pain.’ Side effects include drowsiness and dizziness. These do not address the underlying cause of the problem and is simply focused on masking the pain.
Topical treatments such as capsaicin cream or lidocaine patches. This does not address the underlying cause of the problem and is simply focused on masking the pain.
Antidepressants including certain tricyclic meds such as amitriptyline, doxepin (Silenor, Zonalon) and nortriptyline (Pamelor). These may help to relieve pain by interfering with chemical processes in your brain and spinal cord. These do not address the underlying cause of the problem and is simply focused on masking the pain.
Other antidepressants like serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors like Cymbalta and the extended-release antidepressant venlafaxine (Effexor XR) also might ease the pain of peripheral neuropathy. Side effects include things like dry mouth, nausea, drowsiness, dizziness, decreased appetite, and constipation. These do not address the underlying cause of the problem and is simply focused on masking the pain.
Other Treatments Used
- TENS (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) involves electrodes placed on the skin to deliver a gentle electric current at varying frequencies. This does not address the underlying cause of the problem and is simply focused on masking the pain.
- Plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin is used to help suppress immune system activity which may benefit those with certain inflammatory conditions. This involves removing blood, then removing antibodies and other proteins from the blood and returning the blood to your body. In immune globulin therapy, you receive high levels of proteins that work as immunoglobulins / antibodies.
- Physical therapy is also used if there is associated muscle weakness. Hand or foot braces, a cane, walker, or wheelchair may also be prescribed.
- Surgery may be used in cases where there is direct pressure on nerves, such as pressure from tumors, bulging or herniated discs, scar tissue, etc. to relieve the pressure.
- Manual Manipulative therapies can also play a beneficial role in cases where the pressure is coming from damaged connective tissue, tight muscles, restricted fascia, neuromuscular trigger points, or joint malalignment.
- Other Electrical Pain Modulation Devices such as the Sanexas ®, which is currently being aggressively marketed to both doctors and patients to treat the pain associated with neuropathy and some other conditions. This does not address the underlying cause of the problem and is simply focused on masking the pain.
Additional Alternative Treatment Approaches
Acupuncture is a well-established method to support the body to regain proper function and heal from a variety of challenges. It can be particularly helpful as a non-medication-based method of pain reduction and management. Additionally, by restoring proper energy movement through blocked areas it can assist the body to function more efficiently. There is no current research that we are aware of that indicates that it can reverse the progression of PN.
Nutritional Support assists the body in the repair and maintenance of all tissues. A nutritional imbalance can definitely lead to some of the damage and symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy. Vitamins B12 and Folic Acid in particular can be associated with nerve damage. Any sound program that seeks to help the body repair and maintain proper functioning has to consider and incorporate proper nutritional support.
Some of the Best Documented and Promising Approaches:
- Light Therapy (both Red and Near Infrared) such as The Anodyne have been documented to dramatically enhance the formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis).
- Specific Electrical Frequency Devices such as The Rebuilder have been documented to help repair, retrain, and restore damaged nerves.
- EWOT (Exercise with Oxygen Therapy) is the only approach that is documented to restore & reset the Microcirculation. By restoring microcirculation, ALL the tissues of the body benefit.
- Whole Body Vibration Therapy is well-documented to enhance circulation & oxygenation of the tissues in addition to enhancing protein synthesis, muscle strength, and overall rejuvenation.
Clearly, the only way to address the cause of the problem is to help the body to restore proper blood supply and nerve structure. Once the blood supply and nerves are restored, the nerves can be retrained to perform their appropriate functions. Structure must be restored for function to be restored.
Treating and masking the pain will not accomplish any of that.
We utilize a combination of Light Therapy, Regenerative Electrical Frequencies, Whole Body Vibration, and Oxygen Training along with proper Nutritional Support and Coaching on Lifestyle Modification and Diet to support your body to repair the underlying damage.
Due to the nature of rebuilding blood vessels and nerves, this requires a rigorous approach where you need to do your part. Are you up to it? Schedule a consultation to learn more and see if you are a fit for our approach
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