Hope for Neuropathy
by Eric Winder, DC
Millions of adults in the United States suffer from neuropathy––some of them to devastating degrees. This condition can affect quality of life by disturbing sleep, causing poor balance and coordination, and even challenging the ability to walk or pick up objects. Neuropathy is the name for over a hundred different conditions that can cause damage to nerves, all of which can involve intense pain, numbness and muscular weakness.
Some of the most common causes of neuropathy are diabetes, physical injury, medications and infections. In addition, about one third of cases have no known cause, and are called idiopathic neuropathy. If sensory nerves are affected, numbness can result. If nerves to the muscles are affected, weakness and even muscle atrophy can occur. Sometimes an area affected by neuropathy can be painful, but there can also be little or no pain at all. Any combination of these difficult symptoms is possible.
Sometimes powerful medications are able to help neuropathy symptoms. However, some people cannot tolerate the drugs or side-effects, or simply are not helped by them. In addition, in my clinic, I have seen a number of patients whose idiopathic neuropathy symptoms continued to get worse despite pharmaceutical treatment.
Fortunately, there are several safe, conservative ways to treat this condition that help in many cases. In my clinical experience, these treatments can significantly decrease pain and improve symptoms.
Fascial Release Therapies: Distortions and restrictions in the fascia, or fibrous connective tissue, can contribute to the severity of neuropathy symptoms, especially when the restrictions affect the spinal column. Releasing these restrictions can often improve nerve function and reduce the pain of neuropathy. In some cases, muscle atrophy can be stopped and possibly even reversed.
Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT): LLLT can stimulate energy production in weakened nerve cells, improving their ability to heal and function properly. This therapy can be particularly helpful with the pain aspect of neuropathy.
Nutritional Support: Vitamins B1, B6 and B12 can be important nutritional support in some cases, as well as other support for nerve tissues such as alpha lipoic acid.
While each individual case is unique, I have seen combinations of the above treatments help greatly with neuropathic foot pain from diabetes, numbness and pain in the hands and feet from chemotherapy, and weakness and atrophy in leg muscles from cirrhosis of the liver. While some cases of idiopathic neuropathy do not respond to these treatments, I have also had many such patients find pain relief and, in some cases, even restoration of muscle strength.
It is always a pleasure to see a patient able to walk with improved balance, get better sleep without aggravating pain, or have the dexterity to pick up small objects with their hands again. Neuropathy can be a serious challenge to a person’s lifestyle, but it’s fortunate to know that there are safe and effective treatment options that can help.
Dr. Eric Winder has been practicing chiropractic for 20 years, with a focus on fascial treatment and soft tissue therapies for the past 17 years. Dr. Winder’s practice focuses on relieving pain and restoring alignment and motion through soft tissue therapies without forceful manipulation. For more information, visit GentleBay.com.