An estimated 20 million people in the United States have some form of peripheral neuropathy, but this figure may be significantly higher. Not all people with neuropathy symptoms are tested for the disease, and tests currently don’t look for all forms of neuropathy. One of the main reasons for this is that 60% of people with diabetes suffer from diabetic neuropathy. With the diabetic population ever-increasing, the neuropathy population will continue to increase.
To understand neuropathy, it is best to begin with an overview of the nervous system. The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system. This is the body’s control center, responsible for telling everything else how to function. These “messages” are relayed by the peripheral nervous system, the nerves connecting the spinal cord to all our muscles, glands, organs, and organ systems. Different types of peripheral nerves have different jobs to do. There are sensory nerves, which send information such as pain, touch, and temperature to the brain for processing. There are also motor nerves, which communicate signals from the brain to move muscles. If these nerves get damaged, it affects how those nerves function and their ability to communicate properly. Over time, this can be the root cause of many symptoms or health challenges people face.
Peripheral neuropathy, a result of damage to the nerves located outside the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves), often causes weakness, numbness, and pain, usually in the hands and feet. It can also affect other areas and body functions, including digestion, urination, and circulation. Your peripheral nervous system sends information from your brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) to the rest of your body. The peripheral nerves also send sensory information to the central nervous system.
Peripheral neuropathy can result from traumatic injuries, infections, inflammatory disorders like fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome or vasculitis, metabolic problems like diabetes, inherited causes and exposure to toxins, vitamin deficiencies, or even chemotherapy. One of the most common causes is diabetes.
People with peripheral neuropathy generally describe the pain as stabbing, burning, or tingling. In many cases, symptoms improve, mainly if caused by a treatable condition. Neuropathy treatment at Barley Wellness can often reduce the pain of peripheral neuropathy.
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$49 Complete Neuropathy Health Screening
How Our Neuropathy Care Plan Works
We Will Tell You If We Can Help
A chiropractor will also let you know if we can’t help and advise or refer you to a health care provider that can. We do a thorough complimentary consultation and, if we can help, a comprehensive examination that may include x-rays or other diagnostics.
A Customized Treatment Plan
We use the data collected from our consultation and examination and provide you with a written Report of Findings that your chiropractor explains. We will design a customized care plan that reflects your unique body and situation.
Get Back to Your Life
We initially expect your pain to subside quickly and your overall function and health to undergo correction. A chiropractor works to correct the underlying cause of the problem to fix that “leaky” roof, rather than just place buckets to collect the water.
Signs and Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
- Gradual onset of numbness, prickling, or tingling in your feet or hands, which can spread upward into your legs and arms
- Sharp, jabbing, throbbing, or burning pain
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Pain during activities that shouldn’t cause pain, such as pain in your feet when putting weight on them or when they’re under a blanket
- Lack of coordination and falling
- Muscle weakness
- Feeling as if you’re wearing gloves or socks when you’re not
- Paralysis if motor nerves are affected
If autonomic nerves are affected, signs and symptoms might include:
- Heat intolerance
- Excessive sweating or not being able to sweat
- Bowel, bladder, or digestive problems
- Drops in blood pressure, causing dizziness or lightheadedness
- Erectile dysfunction and other genitourinary issues
Most people who have neuropathy will do almost anything to get rid of it. Medical neuropathy treatments usually include medications such as Gabapentin, injections and nerve blocks, or surgery. While these may help to mask the symptoms, they do not address the root cause of the problem. Ultimately, this results in people struggling for years and decades with no improvement to show for it. Most people do not know what a whole-body, holistic approach can do to improve this condition, and we have had success with multiple therapeutic treatments.
At Barley Wellness, we take a different approach to treating neuropathy, one that promotes healing from within by addressing the root cause of the issue. Our combined protocols address this multi-faceted problem to ensure that the body is in the proper state and environment to allow these nerves to heal. True progress can be made when this happens, restoring our patient’s quality of life.
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How We Treat Neuropathy in Fairhaven, MA
Complete Consultation and Exam
Any new patient who comes to our office will start their journey the same way: with an in-depth consultation and examination. This is where you first meet the doctor and discuss the problems and challenges you have been facing. Your doctor will really listen to you and wants to discover how much neuropathy has affected your life. This is also the time to tell your doctor about your medical history and any other conditions you may have. This critical information will help your doctor understand your condition and what may be the root cause of it.
After the consultation, your doctor will perform a detailed neurologic examination to determine where any sensory (feeling) or motor (movement) deficits may be. This is good baseline data to have for comparison purposes in future exams. The initial examination will also include a chiropractic examination in which the doctor will check your spine for subluxation, which can cause nerve interference and irritation. After this initial visit, you will return for a follow-up in which the doctor will review the findings from your exam and provide care recommendations.
Specific Chiropractic Care
A healthy nervous system is the key to a healthy life. The nervous system controls all other functions of the body. Chiropractic care is one of the best ways to care for and optimize your nervous system. When treating neuropathy, it is ideal for the spine to have as little interference as possible. Subluxations in the spine can impact how well the spinal cord and nerves relay information to and from the brain. Chiropractors are the only experts in healthcare trained to identify and correct subluxations.
Additionally, chiropractors can adjust other joints in the body besides the spine, especially when it comes to neuropathy. The hands and feet are the two most common areas where neuropathy symptoms affect people. Getting these adjusted by a chiropractor regularly can help provide a flood of nerve signals to the brain. This can help dilute pain and other neuropathy symptoms that travel the same nerve pathways back to the brain.
Nutrition and Supplementation
To truly handle neuropathy, we must address a systemic or internal problem occurring within your body: insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t easily take up glucose from your blood. As a result, your pancreas makes more insulin to help glucose enter your cells, and those cells, when bathed in too much insulin, resist the uptake and create insulin resistance. Professor Emeritus at Stanford University coined the term Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X, which resulted from Hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin in our blood) and Insulin Resistance (our cells’ inability to uptake and use insulin’s transportation of energy into the cell). He found that Syndrome X had, like the four points on an “X,” four symptoms: central or abdominal obesity, high blood sugar leading to diabetes, high blood pressure, and dyslipidemia (trouble with cholesterol and triglycerides). This Syndrome X, or Metabolic Syndrome, creates a reduced blood flow to extremities and other parts of the body and is, in turn, a prescription for neuropathy. Therefore we must address diet as part of successful neuropathy treatment.
External treatments are often useless as they are only half the battle. If we do not address the cause of insulin resistance, diet, then we will never get a resolution of its symptoms. Nerves can only heal if they are in the proper internal environment, primarily dictated by what we consume in our diet. Most Americans have a poor, pro-inflammatory diet that is high in sugar and low in nutrients. This promotes insulin resistance which has a cascading and detrimental effect on all our physiological processes.
The average neuropathy patient is elderly (67 years of age), obese (females with a 31 BMI or greater and males with a 33 BMI or greater), and 80% have hormonal issues. Inflammation is a by-product and producer of insulin resistance, stimulating cardiovascular disease and poor circulation. This lack of blood supply is toxic to nerves and blood vessels and causes a lower pH balance in the blood (more acidic). Neuropathy has other symptoms not commonly associated with it, such as sexual dysfunctions like erectile dysfunction and female sexual pain syndromes. A healthy internal environment is necessary to truly heal from this debilitating condition. This is why your food is indeed your medicine OR your poison.
For this reason, applying our dietary weight loss method within our clinic will decrease inflammation and create a more stable internal environment. Like any diet, it must be consistent, or it won’t work. It must become a lifestyle if a person is serious about addressing neuropathy.
Supplements are vital for the proper function of nerves, such as B Vitamins, antioxidants to decrease inflammation, and magnesium to reduce muscle spasms. Nitric oxide is another excellent way to dilate blood vessels to get more blood flow to wilting nerves so they can receive the nutrients they need.
Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy works by acting on the “power plant” in your body’s cells called mitochondria. With more energy, other cells can do their work more efficiently, such as repairing skin and boosting new cell growth. More specifically, certain cells are stimulate by absorbing light wavelengths.
Red light therapy may work to:
- Stimulate collagen production, which gives skin its structure, strength, and elasticity.
- Increase fibroblast production, which makes collagen. Collagen is a component of connective tissue that builds skin.
- Increase blood circulation to the tissue.
- Reduce inflammation in cells.
Reducing inflammation and increasing blood circulation will heal the nerve tissues and improve vitality and energy levels by increasing the effectiveness of our body’s “powerhouses” – the mitochondria. Red to near-infrared LEDs promote mitochondrial oxidative metabolism. Red light therapy improves nerve regeneration and increases antioxidation levels. The good news is that red light therapy starts helping your body from the very first session, but continued treatments help achieve more lasting results.
Neuropathy occurs when nerves are starved of oxygen and other nutrients. This causes the nerve to wither and decay, which decreases its function and is the source of common neuropathy symptoms. A vital component of successfully healing neuropathy is re-establishing abundant blood flow to these nerves and infrared light therapy through an Anodyne machine is one of the best ways to do that. As part of our protocol, you will receive an anodyne unit and administer the treatment yourself from the comfort of your home. It is a device that straps to the leg or foot, arm or hand and provides painless treatment.
Infrared light therapy has several known benefits for nerves. First, it stimulates angiogenesis, which is the creation of new blood vessels. If a nerve lacks blood supply, it makes sense to provide more blood vessels to increase that supply. Second, this treatment stimulates the release of nitric oxide in our blood vessels. Nitric oxide is a known vasodilator, meaning it causes the blood vessel to open more to allow more blood flow. This will also enhance the nerve’s ability to get oxygen and other nutrients from the bloodstream. Finally, using anodyne helps to decrease inflammation, which is toxic to nerves, and this can help accelerate the healing process.
At Barley Wellness, we use red light therapy and infrared sauna therapy to improve blood flow and decrease inflammation while stimulating the powerhouses of your cells, the mitochondria, to work more efficiently.
Electrical stimulation can often be used for peripheral neuropathy. The application of electrical stimulation may provide a novel treatment option for large and small fiber neuropathy in persons with diabetes. Neuropathy alters pain, proprioception, touch perception, and motor function. It causes burning foot pain and serves as protective mechanisms from ulcerations. Several studies have shown that direct electrical stimulation of the injured nerves can enhance sensory and motor axon regeneration, hasten functional recovery, and facilitate reinnervation.
Types of Neuropathy
Diabetes is one of the most common causes of neuropathy. Remember, nerves have their own blood supply that is necessary for receiving nutrients to keep nerves healthy. This requires the blood to be healthy and nourishing for the nerves to thrive. If blood is not healthy, such as in diabetes, where blood sugar levels are high, this can cause damage to the nerves over time.
Diabetic neuropathy is most seen in the legs and feet; the most common symptoms are pain, numbness, and tingling. It is not sufficient to treat only the neuropathy symptoms and hope they go away. To effectively heal diabetic neuropathy, you must help heal the root cause, which is insulin resistance, the precursor to pre-diabetes and diabetes. Dietary and lifestyle changes must happen to help improve the individual’s health and help their blood sugar levels decrease and stabilize. If maintained, this can help heal the neuropathy and ensure that it doesn’t return.
Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of neuropathy that affects people. The peripheral nervous system connects the spinal cord to the rest of the body, so these nerves can be quite long. This means that symptoms can be felt in various locations, though the most affected areas are the hands, fingers, feet, and toes. These symptoms can include pain, burning, weakness, numbness, and tingling. Peripheral neuropathy can also cause coordination and balance issues when it affects the feet. Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by infection, injury, or other medical conditions. For example, one of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. If you think you may have peripheral neuropathy, Barley Wellness is ready to help you.
Proximal neuropathy is a rare form of neuropathy that affects muscles in the upper part of the legs, buttocks, and hips. It can sometimes resemble sciatica in that it can shoot from the buttock region down into the legs, but usually has a different root cause than traditional sciatica. It typically presents with sharp, sudden pain in the hip or buttocks, but sometimes as the lower extremity pain improves, it can cause similar symptoms in the upper extremities. Like peripheral neuropathy, one of the most common causes of proximal neuropathy is diabetes. Therefore, one of the best ways to help treat proximal neuropathy is lifestyle changes that can improve health and better control the diabetic condition.
The autonomic nervous system is a special part of our body’s nervous system responsible for controlling all involuntary functions of the body. Involuntary functions are the things your body does to thrive without you having to think about it. Examples of this would be breathing while you sleep, your heart constantly beating, and your stomach digesting food once you consume it. If you damage these nerves, as in autonomic neuropathy, your body may have difficulty regulating some of these essential functions. Symptoms of autonomic neuropathy depend on which specific nerves are being affected. For example, if the nerves that control your heart are damaged, it is possible to experience symptoms such as blood pressure problems, rapid or slow heartbeat, fatigue, or lightheadedness. Other symptoms of autonomic neuropathy could be temperature regulation, dizziness and fainting when standing, urinary problems such as difficulty starting urination, loss of bladder control, difficulty sensing a full bladder, and the inability to empty your bladder completely.
Autonomic neuropathy may be seen with:
- Alcohol abuse
- Diabetes (diabetic neuropathy)
- Disorders involving scarring of tissues around the nerves
- Guillain Barré syndrome or other diseases that inflame nerves
- Inherited nerve disorders
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson disease
Conditions like peripheral neuropathy tend to result from damage to multiple nerves in the body. In contrast, focal neuropathy is a condition in which a single, specific nerve is affected. One of the most common types of focal neuropathies is caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, in which one specific nerve, the median nerve, is being compressed. The median nerve travels through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. Excessive use or damage can cause inflammation within the carpal tunnel, which takes up space. When the median nerve is compressed due to lack of space, it can cause symptoms such as pain, numbness, weakness, and burning in the hand. This is known as nerve entrapment, the most common cause of most focal neuropathies.
Cancer is one of the worst and most worrisome conditions a person can have. It is commonly treated with chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Unfortunately, neuropathy is a common side effect of some chemotherapy treatments. Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy causes many of the same symptoms as other forms of neuropathy, and it has the potential to linger long after chemotherapy treatments have been stopped. Some of the more common chemotherapy drugs that cause neuropathy are thalidomide, cisplatin, and docetaxel, and several others. Even if you are undergoing chemotherapy treatment, addressing the root cause of neuropathy and treating it appropriately can help reduce neuropathy symptoms and increase overall function.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can chiropractors in Fairhaven, MA help with neuropathy?
Yes. The chiropractors at Barley Wellness take a multi-faceted approach to treating neuropathy. Their approach combines cutting-edge technology, customized office treatment, and lifestyle education to aid in healing neuropathy and help the individual heal, both externally and internally. Health is the ultimate objective.
Can spinal chiropractic care help with neuropathy?
Yes, spinal adjustments can help with neuropathy, depending on what the source of the neuropathy is. If there is compression of the nerve root at the spinal level due to subluxation or a disc bulge, then chiropractic would help restore nerve function by taking the pressure off the nerve near the spine.
If the neuropathy is secondary to diabetes and is felt in the feet, toes, hands, or fingers, our chiropractors at Barley Wellness will point you in the right direction.
How long does it take for neuropathy to go away?
It is estimated that neuropathy can take 18-24 months to heal fully, but, if you adhere to the care plan, is very common to get great results within the first 90 days of treatment. Often people will experience a reduction of their symptoms during this window, which can boost their quality of life. After your first re-examination after 90 days, your doctor will give you a new set of recommendations based on your results so that you can continue healing appropriately.
Can neuropathy be healed?
Yes, you heal neuropathy if the right environment is provided for the body to heal. Not only does it require consistency with the appropriate external treatment measures, but it also takes providing a healthy internal environment for healing to occur. For many, this can require a dramatic lifestyle change, especially regarding one’s diet. Neuropathy doesn’t happen overnight, nor should you expect it to heal overnight. It is a process that must be adhered to to get the best results.
How often will I need chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy?
The frequency of chiropractic adjustments during pregnancy can vary depending on your specific needs and your chiropractor’s recommendations. Initially, you may require frequent visits to address immediate concerns or discomfort. As your pregnancy progresses, we may reduce the frequency of regular maintenance visits.
Does neuropathy go away?
Neuropathy is a progressive condition, meaning it will worsen over time unless the right measures are put in place to stop the damage and start the healing. Therefore, many people take the same medications for years with higher and higher doses and still experience symptoms. Medications aren’t fixing the problem; they’re just masking the symptoms. However, with the right treatment approach, neuropathy can be managed and even resolved over time.