Chiropractor Chandler AZ
Peripheral neuropathy is damage to nerves in the hands and feet. Some people often describe pain, numbness, or tingling in the affected nerves, while others feel a change in sensation that doesn't quite feel right, often described as having a sock or glove on all the time.
There are multiple causes of peripheral neuropathy including diabetes, toxic, poison, alcoholic, medications, autoimmune, and degenerative inherited diseases to the nerves. The most common types are the result of diabetes or idiopathic, in which the neuropathy symptoms develop without a known reason.
The degree of neuropathy symptoms varies from person to person. Many have a slight or mild sense of pain, numbness, or tingling. Meanwhile other people find their lives are completely disrupted by the pain and sensations.
Symptoms can develop quickly or over a slow period of time, from months to years. The intensity of symptoms and specific areas affected vary from patient to patient. In some cases only a single nerve front is affected, while in others multiple nerves are involved. Neuropathy most commonly affects the longest nerves in the body, which is why it is common in the feet. It also very commonly affects the small pain nerves.
Neuropathy can develop in any nerve in the body. The most commonly discussed neuropathy is the pain in the hands and feet. These nerves also control our temperature sensation, which is why some people feel hot and cold changes or extreme sensitivity. Neuropathy can also develop in our motor neurons that control muscle contraction which disrupts muscle and joint movements. It can also happen in the autonomic nervous systems that control digestive, gut, or bowel and bladder functions.
When a patient first begins developing peripheral neuropathy symptoms, a complete examination will be performed. It will begin with a simple history of past exposure to toxic chemicals, metabolic changes, inherited diseases, family health problems, or exposure to lyme disease. Advanced testing can be included to evaluate nerve function including NCV, or test that measures the health and function of motor and sensory nerves. Bloodwork will be performed to evaluate possible metabolic or immune system changes that could be causing the neuropathy. Additional advanced testing such as CAT scans or MRIs can be performed. Make sure to bring your medication list with you to your appointment, as many medications can also contribute to developing neuropathy.
There are multiple causes for peripheral neuropathy, which is why many people react differently to the treatments. In many cases we are unsure of the exact reason for the pain, numbness, tingling, or temperature sensitivity changes that you are experiencing. Some patients respond better to medication changes such as anti-depression or seizure medications, which have shown positive outcomes in some people. If diabetes is involved, significant diet, exercise, and medication changes can be expected.
Conservative treatment provides significant relief for some patients. Other patients respond to exercise and balance training. Activities and exercise increase blood flow and nerve signal generation, which increases the daily use of the nerve. When nerves are activated with regularity, it often triggers metabolic and cellular reactions for the nerve to enhance its regeneration and repair. Patients with peripheral neuropathy often find their symptoms are decreased when they are more active, and these patients respond with specific exercises developed for neuropathy patients.
Low-level light therapy or cold laser therapy has shown significant improvement in nerve cell regeneration and repair. Specific wavelengths and frequencies enhance functions within the cell to increase its energy and repair mechanisms, which are often compromised in patients experiencing neuropathy symptoms. Multiple studies have shown significant improvement and reduction of symptoms in intensity, frequency, and duration of pain. Studies have also shown improved nerve sensory function in many patients.
Low-level laser therapy is a newer treatment for peripheral neuropathy symptoms. It has shown significant improvement because of the changes it makes on the small pain nerves, sensory nerves, and motor neurons in the hands and feet.
Vibration therapy enhances the nerve stimulus and input up to the brain. The sensory nerves are prepared for receiving more stimulus and transferring that signal up the nerve to the spinal cord. The brain and spinal cord send more signals down the motor neurons to the feet and legs. The increased amount of nerve usage further enhances cellular repair and metabolic activities within the affected nerves.
Combining class IV cold laser with vibration therapy further enhances patient improvement and recovery from peripheral neuropathy. These combined treatments can significantly decrease the pain intensity, timing, frequency, and duration of pain, numbness, and tingling. Within three weeks most patients report a positive result from the treatment and also find the intensity of symptoms is reduced between 25 and 50%.
Peripheral neuropathy treatments can be effective at lessening the symptoms of neuropathy. Not all patients will respond to low-level laser therapy and vibration therapy treatments, but it makes a significant impact in many people's lives.
Changes in footwear are also helpful to decrease the pressure or negative stimulation on the feet. Changing lifestyle diet and alcohol intake can also be very helpful for many people.