By Justin Pearce D.C. | Millpond Integrative Health and Wellness Center
Neuropathy, a condition affecting one or more of peripheral (distant) nerves, typically causes numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. It’s estimated that 25 to 30 percent of Americans will be affected by neuropathy at some point in their lives. Neuropathy occurs in up to 70 percent of people with diabetes.
Diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy. The nerves in our feet, lower legs and hands nerves rely on tiny blood vessels to bring them oxygenated blood. All cells in the body, including nerves, need oxygen to stay healthy and alive. Without oxygen, nerves die.
Diabetes damages blood vessels, affecting the smallest ones, called capillaries, first. It’s the capillaries that supply blood to the distant nerves in the feet and toes. As these nerves are starved of oxygen, they begin to die, causing numbness and tingling and impeding the nerves ability to control the muscles, resulting in muscle weakness.
Treatment for cancer – chemotherapy and radiation therapy – are other common causes of neuropathy. Chemotherapy is a common treatment for cancer. Cancer treatment works by killing cancer cells. Unfortunately, these treatments are also toxic to healthy cells, including nerve cells. Sometimes neuropathy caused by chemotherapy can improve. Some patients will experience significant improvement; others only slight; and some will see no improvement at all. Neuropathy induced by radiation treatment often does not improve.
Nerve compression is another cause of neuropathy. Nerve cells are long and very thin. Some nerve cells stretch the entire length of your leg – all the way down to your foot. One cell can be 3 to 4 feet long. Nerves are made up of many of these cells wound together like strands in a rope. These tiny nerve cells act as hollow tubes, with nutrients moving through them, keeping all of the cells along the nerve healthy. Any kind of mechanical pressure placed on the nerve long term will restrict the flow of nutrients throughout the length of the nerve.
This has the same effect as putting a kink in a garden hose – nothing is able to get through the tube. As a result, the nerve will become damaged and may eventually die. Some common causes of mechanical compression of a nerve are:
a bulged/herniated disc in the lower back, muscle spasm in the buttocks, or legs, or a direct trauma to a nerve.
Finally, neuropathy can be caused by a Vitamin B12 deficiency. Nerves need B12 to function normally. Without it, neuropathy may result. This may happen as a result of alcoholism, digestive issues that interfere with the body’s ability to absorb the nutrient, or malnourishment.
There is also a type of neuropathy known as idiopathic neuropathy. This term literally means ‘you have nerve damage and we don’t know why’. This diagnosis is usually given when a medical history, examination, and testing fails to give an answer as to why the nerve damage is happening.
Other, less common types of neuropathy are related to autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, or Guillain-Barre syndrome; neuropathy may arise as a result of a genetic disorder. Finally, neurologic diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, may lead to neuropathy.
Care for neuropathy
The first step in caring for neuropathy is determining the cause. This is done through a review of personal and family health history; a discussion of symptoms; and a physical exam. Additional testing may be needed to further pinpoint the cause of neuropathy. One of the most common tests performed in diagnosing neuropathy is the NCV/EMG test. This test measures nerve and muscle function. Lab work, evaluation of the blood vessel and an MRI may also be performed.
From here, a plan is developed to address the patient’s specific issues. For example, if the nerves in the feet and legs are damaged, the focus is on helping the injured area of the nerve. Similarly, if the neuropathy arises from an injured disc in the lower back, the focus will be on the injured disc.
Unfortunately, patients suffering from neuropathy may have several different sources of nerve damage. For example, a diabetic patient may have nerve damage in their feet AND a herniated disc in their lower back causing nerve compression. The key to helping these more complicated situations is a thorough evaluation that identifies all sources of trouble and then focusing on each problem, e.g. helping both the nerves and the disc.
But what if you’ve been told they have idiopathic neuropathy? Remember, idiopathic neuropathy means “you have nerve damage and we don’t know why.” Even if no one has been able to figure out exactly why the nerve damage occurred, we are still most likely able to figure out where the nerve is damaged and focus on that area. This approach has allowed us to help many people with idiopathic neuropathy.
Because most neuropathic conditions stem from a lack of blood flow much of our focus is on improving blood flow to the area of nerve damage. At Millpond Health and Wellness Center, we have evaluated the benefits of numerous options available for neuropathy, including laser, medications, lotions, creams, vitamins and acupuncture. Based on our research, experience, and more importantly, the improvement we have seen in our patients, we believe we have assembled the absolute best program available to those suffering from neuropathy.
Gentle and Effective Neuropathy Protocol
Our exclusive neuropathy protocol increases blood flow to the nerves in the feet and/or hands, which allows the nerves to heal naturally. There’s no surgery and no addictive medications. A recent survey of our patients found an 87 percent reduction in pain. The average pain score went from 7.9 to 1.3 — with NO negative side effects. Our patient experienced improved balance, sleeping through the night pain-free, reduced swelling and improved walking and exercise.
Anodyne LED Light Therapy
At the forefront of our protocol regimen is the use of an infrared diode device, also known as low-
level light therapy, photon therapy or photo therapy. This therapy outputs infrared light ranging in wavelength from 430-880 nm. The most effective wavelengths are the narrower near infrared (NIR) band centering around 900 nm. When used appropriately on the affected area, these lights promote the release of nitric oxide from the endothelial cells, increasing local blood flow, and stimulating angiogenesis. Nitric oxide is also known to play a critical role in increasing the flow of blood into body tissues.
Better blood flow serves to bring fresh nutrients and oxygen into the injured area and remove bacteria and toxins out of it. This therapy has been around for some time now and is well documented and researched.
The ReBuilder is an FDA registered Class II medical device designed to help alleviate painful symptoms by supporting the body’s natural healing processes The ReBuilder is a unique electrical stimulation device that opens the nerve paths, re-educates the nerves, re-mineralizes the synaptic junctions between the nerve cells, and helps all the nerves from the toes, up the leg, across the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system synaptic junctions, and then down the other leg.
ReBuilder treatment gently stimulates the leg muscles in a steady rhythmic contraction beginning at the foot working its way toward the body. This helps the body’s own natural venous blood pump mechanism to enhance circulation. Increased blood flow means reducing edema, flushing away toxins and improved nutrient delivery to even the most distal parts of the feet.
If you, or someone you love, is living with neuropathy and would like to know more about the Neuropathy Protocol at Millpond Wellness Center, give us a call at (859) 219-0617 today.
Millpond Wellness Center
3650 Boston Rd. #188
Lexington, KY 40514