Chiropractor Chandler AZ
Diabetic neuropathy is a painful condition that results from chronically high blood sugar levels. Elevated glucose levels cause damage to many cells in the body, especially the small blood vessels in the feet and the ones surrounding nervous tissue. Blood vessels in the feet are damaged with pressure from our body weight, and injury to those vessels result in decreased blood flow to all the tissues in our ankles and feet. This is why cuts and scrapes do not heal very fast, and small injuries are likely to cause serious trouble in diabetic patients. Injuries and foot ulcers are likely to result in serious medical conditions that result in increased likelihood of foot amputations.
The same mechanism of injury also affects the small vessels that provide nutrients to nerves. Because these small blood vessels are damaged, they provide less blood flow and nutrients to the neurons which affect healing and repair. As a neuron becomes damaged is unable to fully regenerate itself. Over time the nerve health gradually declines and begins functioning at a sub-optimal level, such as with carpal tunnel syndrome.
As nerve health declines, it begins sending bad signals from the receptors in the feet up to the spinal cord. These improper signals result in the feeling of burning, tingling, temperature change, and pain in the foot. This is also why patients with diabetic neuropathy often find it uncomfortable or painful to have shoes compress or a blanket lay on the feet. These neuropathy symptoms develop as the nerve damage increases. The symptoms often begin as mild and progress over weeks and months. Some patients with diabetic neuropathy symptoms describe severe pain and burning that limit all of their daily activities including walking or standing for longer than 10 minutes. Some peoples’ symptoms are so severe it requires pain medication to control or limit their pain.
The neurons will continue to send bad stimulus through the axon to the spinal cord as long as the nerve is operating in its sub-optimal state. Peripheral nerves can repair and heal in the body assuming that they can receive enough nutrients, blood flow, and are able to repair without further damaging stimulus.
Low-level laser therapy or cold laser therapy utilizes specific wavelengths to trigger mechanisms within the body. Specific wavelengths cause arteries to dilate or increase the amount of blood that flows through the vessel. Increased blood flow means more nutrients can get to the nerves. Another wavelength within the body triggers increased cell and repair mechanisms in the neuron. One of these mechanisms increases ATP or energy production. ATP is the cell's energy source, and if a cell has extra energy it can utilize that for healing. Chronically injured cells often have low levels of ATP which further complicates its normal repair processes. Combining increased blood flow with increased cellular repair gives the nerve an opportunity to heal.
Cold lasers have been utilized in the US and Europe for over 30 years for therapeutic applications. It has taken advancements in engineering and production to allow a cost-effective cold laser to be used it in an office. The newest class IV cold lasers are able to produce 10 J of energy per second and can penetrate 8 – 10 cm into the body. This is a tremendous amount of energy output and has the ability to reach the small nerves deep into the body. Older class III lasers could only produce 6 J of energy per minute and could penetrate only 2 – 3 cm into the body. They could not produce enough energy or depth of penetration to promote the amount of cellular healing required for healing nerves damaged by diabetic neuropathy.
Cold laser therapy for diabetic neuropathy will be applied to the feet and low back. The low-level laser therapy will stimulate the receptors and sensory nerve from the feet up to the spine. The motor neurons that control muscle contraction leave the spinal cord and travel towards the feet. By applying laser therapy to both areas of the body we stimulate the beginning and end of both types of neurons. Cold laser therapy is also combined with vibration therapy to enhance repair and regeneration.
Vibration therapy stimulates the nerve receptors in the feet causing transmission of signal through those nerves to the spinal cord. The brain and spinal cord then send signals down the motor neurons, leaving the spinal cord and traveling to the muscles in the feet to cause contraction to maintain balance. Vibration therapy promotes repair and regeneration by stimulating the sensory and motor neurons within this pathway. When a neuron is consistently used it triggers additional repair and healing processes that complement nerve regeneration. This is similar to muscle strength training, whereas repeated exercise stimulates muscle growth and repair. Increased stimulation of muscle tissue causes increased amounts of muscle fibers to be produced; likewise increased stimulation in sensory and motor neurons increases nervous tissue repair and healing.
Low-level laser therapy and vibration therapy are tremendous treatments for decreasing diabetic neuropathy symptoms. Patient suffering with extreme pain, numbness, tingling, or altered sensation report significant improvement within three weeks of treatment. The intensity, frequency, and duration of symptoms are improved over this time. People who were unable to walk through the grocery store find themselves walking through the mall without pain. They also reported improved quality of life and greater ability to enjoy their daily activities.