Peripheral neuropathy is a disorder in which there is damage to the peripheral nerves that connect the spinal cord to muscles, skin, and internal organs. There could be damage to one nerve or to a group of nerves or throughout the entire body.
People with peripheral neuropathy experience weakness, numbness, tingling, and pain in their feet and hands. The numbness is often described as a loss of sensation, as if wearing gloves or socks and the pain as a burning or tingling sensation. The symptoms can come and go, slowly progressing over many years, or the disorder can become debilitating.
However, there is hope—especially if diagnosed early, peripheral neuropathy can often be controlled.
Why have I never heard of peripheral neuropathy? Peripheral neuropathy has always been present, but its extent and importance have not been adequately recognized. It’s apt to be misdiagnosed or thought to be a side effect of another disease. As a result, the development of new therapies has been slow and underfunded. But peripheral neuropathy is common; upwards of 20 million Americans have it, including 8%–9% of Medicare recipients. It can occur at any age, but is more common among older adults.
How Do We Help You Get Relief from the Pain and Other Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy?
Camarillo Spine and Sports Therapy has had tremendous success in the treatment of the symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy. It’s not uncommon for us to see positive results within just five treatments.
With Dr. Veselak’s treatment plan, did you know you can overcome neuropathy without taking addictive, potentially harmful, and expensive medications? We offer a non-invasive, no-drug alternative to treat your neuropathy, whether you have diabetic, post-surgical, or peripheral pain or are suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome.
Dr. Veselak will start the corrective process in our office with a comprehensive evaluation followed by a specific treatment regimen and then create a home maintenance plan based on your needs.
Treatments that can be effective in treating peripheral neuropathy include:
- Acupuncture. It may reduce symptoms in about three-quarters of people with peripheral neuropathy, but multiple sessions are typically necessary before improvement is noticeable.
- Alpha-lipoic acid. It’s an antioxidant that has been shown to reduce symptoms. Its use should be discussed with your doctor, since it sometimes affects blood sugar; it can also cause a skin rash or an upset stomach.
- Biofeedback. These devices gauge how your body responds to certain stimuli and give you auditory or visual cues. The idea is to use relaxation or guided imagery to reduce the physical reactions you want to eliminate.
- Braces and splints.
- Counseling. Talk therapy can help you learn better ways to cope with the pain of peripheral neuropathy.
- Exercises to gain muscle strength and control.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS).
Safety at Home. Another thing we’ll do is help you determine what you need to do to make your home safer while you’re dealing with the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Since those who experience weakness and numbness are at higher risk for falling, and therefore are at greater risk for unexpected injuries, it’s important to ensure unnecessary hazards are removed from your home.
Start with proper lighting. Next, observe the floor…are there loose rugs that pose a tripping hazard? Are there loose wires in paths where you walk? Are there uneven floors that should be repaired? Handrails and rubber mats can increase safety in your shower and bathtub. And be careful of your small pets…pay attention so that they also don’t become a tripping hazard.
Sources Symptoms, and Types of Peripheral Neuropathy
There are many causes of peripherals neuropathy. Approximately 30% of neuropathies are “idiopathic,” or of an unknown cause. In another 30% of cases, the cause is diabetes. Other neuropathy causes include auto-immune disorders, some drugs (those that treat cancer, high blood pressure, infections, and seizures), heredity, infections, injuries, nutritional imbalances, toxins (including heavy alcohol use, glue, lead, mercury, and solvents), tumors, or underactive thyroid gland.
Peripheral neuropathy can also result from pressure on a particular nerve. Pressure on nerves can come from a bone fracture, trauma and from wearing a poorly fitted brace, cast, or splint, which is why the disorder includes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (pressure in the hand and wrist) and Guillain-Barre Syndrome (a rare, sudden paralysis).
There are three types of peripheral nerves that can become damaged, and your symptoms will depend the location of these nerves:
- Sensory nerves, which affect sensation.
- Autonomic nerves, which affect internal organ functions.
- Motor nerves, which affect your muscles.
Peripheral neuropathy typically begins in the longest nerves, such as those leading to your toes. The symptoms can include:
- Bladder problems, including leaking, not being able to tell when the bladder is full, not being able to empty your bladder.
- Digestive problems, including bloat, constipation or loose stools, heartburn, trouble swallowing, vomiting.
- Electric, needle-like, sharp pain.
- Lack of coordination.
- Difficulty carrying groceries, opening jars, turning door knobs, or taking care of your personal grooming. A common frustration is dropping things.
- Difficulty walking or running, a feeling of “heaviness” in your legs, finding it takes a lot of effort just to climb the stairs, stumbling or tiring easily.
- Muscle twitching or cramping.
- Muscle weakness (muscles may become smaller) or paralysis.
- Pain that includes sensations of burning, buzzing, electric shocks, pinching, and sharp/deep stabs.
- Sweating excessively.
- Sensitivity to even light touch.
- Sexual problems.
- Tingling in hands, arms, feet, and/or legs.
Medications. Our goal is to help reduce your pain without medication, but the following are sometimes used to treat the pain of peripheral neuropathy, although they do not help with numbness or weakness. Most require a physician’s prescription:
- Antidepressants. Side effects may include decreased appetite, dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and nausea.
- Anti-seizure medications. Side effects can include dizziness and drowsiness.
- Capsaicin cream, which gives skin a heat sensation.
- Lidocaine patch applied to the area where pain is most severe.
- Over-the-counter pain medications.
- Prescription painkillers; however, opiates can lead to dependence, constipation or sedation, so they should be used at last resort.
What is Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)?
Peripheral neuropathy can often be associated with a “restless legs” feeling. It may result in Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), which is characterized by unpleasant sensations in the legs and an uncontrollable urge to move when at rest in an effort to relieve those feelings. RLS sensations are often described by people as burning, creeping, tugging, or like insects crawling inside the legs.
The most distinctive or unusual aspect of the condition is that lying down and trying to relax activates the symptoms. As a result, most people with RLS have difficulty falling and staying asleep, resulting in exhaustion and daytime fatigue. Many people with RLS report that their job, personal relations, and daily activities are strongly affected due to exhaustion. They are often unable to concentrate, have impaired memory, or fail to accomplish daily tasks.
In most cases, the cause of RLS is unknown, although there is a family history in approximately 50 percent of cases.
Often, treating the associated medical condition, such as peripheral neuropathy or diabetes, will alleviate RLS symptoms. For patients with idiopathic RLS, treatment is directed toward relieving symptoms.
We at Camarillo Spine and Sports Therapy treat RLS patients, and our success rate is dramatic. Many of our patients would be delighted to talk to those of you who have concerns or if you’ve had your hopes dashed before.
When you need expert chiropractic and natural health care,
Camarillo Spine and Sports Therapy is the right place for you!
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