What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is one of the most common chronic diseases in the U.S. today, affecting more than 24 million people. Unfortunately, this figure may be significantly higher as neuropathy is often misdiagnosed due to its complex presentation of symptoms. Neuropathy is a disorder of the peripheral nerves, the nerves that go down into your arms, hands, legs, and feet. Neuropathy occurs as the result of damage to the nerves outside of the central nervous system, which is the brain and spinal cord. The damage may be the result of a traumatic injury, exposure to toxins, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, autoimmune diseases, infections, or metabolic problems such as diabetes. The nerve damage often causes numbness, weakness, and pain, typically in the hands and feet. Those who suffer from peripheral neuropathy usually describe the unique pain as a stabbing, burning, or tingling sensation.
Common symptoms of neuropathy include:
- Gradual onset of numbness, prickling or tingling in your hands or feet
- Sensitivity to touch
- Lack of coordination and falling
- Sharp, stabbing, throbbing or burning pain
- Muscle weakness
- Sharp pain or cramps
Complications of Neuropathy
Early intervention is crucial when it comes to treating peripheral neuropathy as symptoms often begin subtly, but steadily worsen over time as the damage to the nerve fibers progress. Those with peripheral neuropathy are more likely to suffer burns and skin trauma in the affected area because they may not feel temperature changes or pain in the areas that are numb. People with neuropathy are also more likely to suffer from an infection because the areas lacking sensation can become injured unknowingly. Infections can lead to gangrene where the underlying tissues become necrotic. Falls are also a major complication of neuropathy as weakness and a loss of sensation may be associated with lack of balance. For some, the loss of sensation may be so severe, walking becomes impossible without assistance.
When it comes to treating neuropathy, conventional treatment falls short and lacks viable long term solutions. Currently, the standard treatment for neuropathy aims to manage the condition rather than to address and fix the cause. Patients are often prescribed anti-seizure medications such as Lyrica, Neurontin, and Gralise. These medications may be beneficial for a short time before the body adapts and the dosage must be increased. Pain relievers, topical treatments, and antidepressants may also be prescribed as an attempt to manage the neuropathy. Other suggested treatments include transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, physical therapy, surgery, and amputation. The problem with these treatments is instead of healing the damaged nerves, they simply attempt to dull painful symptoms, or in severe cases, remove the limb completely.
Peripheral neuropathy can progress to the point where medications no longer can cover up the debilitating symptoms and amputation becomes the treatment of suggestion. For some the neuropathy does not end with the removal of the limb, instead, it results in what is known as Phantom Limb Pain. With Phantom Limb Pain, the individual continues to experience the pain and sensations that were present even after the limb has been physically removed.
At Abundant Life Health Center, we have a 70-100% success rate with treating neuropathy depending on the progression level of the neuropathy. Our treatment focuses on not only stopping the progression of neuropathy but also healing and reversing the damage to the nerves. We may have a long-term solution that addresses the underlying cause of your neuropathy. If you or a loved one are suffering from neuropathy, contact our office to schedule a consult and see how we can help you.