Trying to explain what peripheral neuropathy is, and how finding the cause of your peripheral neuropathy is essential to your successful treatment, may seem daunting in the space of a blog post. At times it can be a very easy condition to address and fix, but more frequently it is very complex.
Peripheral neuropathy means the nerves outside of your spinal cord are damaged. Although often related to diseases like diabetes, the nerve damage ultimately comes from one of five things.
Five common causes of Peripheral Neuropathy:
1. Nerves are not getting enough nutrients (fuel) to stay healthy.
2. Nerves are not being activated, or used enough to stay healthy.
3. Nerves are being deprived of oxygen.
4. Nerves are being compressed, and from the point of compression on down, they are dying because of a lack of fuel, oxygen or activation.
5. Or, you are suffering from a combination of all of the above.
Depending upon the cause of your peripheral neuropathy, and which nerves are affected, you will eventually have symptoms like pain, tingling and numbness predominately in your feet, but it may spread to your hands as well. As nerves continue to die these symptoms will worsen and start to affect other tissue. The most commonly affected is the cerebellum, the part of your brain that controls eye movement, balance, and coordination of movement, so it is not coincidental that along with your peripheral neuropathy you may also have trouble balancing.
Try this test: stand in a relaxed manner, putting more weight on your left foot, then try to place your right foot on the floor directly in front of the left, touching the right heal to the left toe. Were you able to keep your balance? Now switch sides and try again? You should not wobble.
Pain is a normal, natural and essential sensation for your body to experience. It tells you something is wrong. Medications may truly give you relief from your pain symptoms, but relief only occurs while taking the medication; it masks symptoms for as long as you continue taking it. When you stop, you are still left with the underlying condition – your peripheral neuropathy. It has not been cured. And what’s worse, the entire time your symptoms and pain were being masked there is a good chance your nerves degenerated further. The purpose of medication is to change your brain chemistry NOT find the root cause of your symptoms. How will you ever regain healthy nerves if you don’t find which of the 5 causes of peripheral neuropathy you are suffering from?
Patient A and Patient B both suffered from peripheral neuropathy. Both had symptoms that were continuing to worsen. Patient A was 57 and Patient B was 62. Both were on Lyrica to minimize pain yet, their pain was slowly increasing, especially the burning foot pain at night.
Patient A suffered from diabetes and blood tests also revealed macrocytic anemia. Both conditions can deprive nerves of adequate fuel and oxygen. Knowing 2 of the causes of peripheral neuropathy are a lack of fuel (nutrients) and a lack of oxygen to the nerves, a fairly simple treatment plan was developed for Patient A. One which got his blood sugar under control and supported the efficient transport of oxygen rich blood. Within 4 months Patient A related that his peripheral neuropathy pain was gone, his use of Lyrica eliminated, and his blood sugar which was 160-180 with meds before treatment was reduced to 85-110 after treatment enabling him to decrease is diabetes medication by 75%.
Patient B, also diabetic, presented a more complex case. In addition to his diabetes, his initial examination showed he was suffering from loss of “wide diameter afferent neurons.” These nerves, when healthy, block pain. With this information treatment was directed to stabilize blood sugar and improve activation of these “wide diameter afferent nerves.” It was explained to Patient B that this treatment would take longer to see results. Five months into the care he related an 80% reduction of pain intensity and he was able to sleep at night with no pain.
Even though their peripheral neuropathy symptoms seemed the same, it took a careful individual assessment to find the underlying cause or causes in each case. Finding the cause of your peripheral neuropathy is the first step in a successful, drug free plan to improve nerve health and live a pain free life.