by Eric Winder, DC
Neuropathy of the feet or hands can range from mild to severely limiting for life activities, and it can even cause safety issues. There are limited options to treat this condition of nerve damage—mostly using conventional methods—but at our office, we see tremendous improvements in most cases by using low-level laser therapy and fascia release techniques. For many patients. there are improvements in symptoms after just the first or second treatment.
In most cases, neuropathy involves a combination of numbness, tingling or pain. It has many different causes, but the most common neuropathy stems from diabetes. This is caused by chemical changes from high blood sugar, but researchers cannot explain why some diabetics with well-controlled sugar experience neuropathy, while others with higher blood sugar levels do not. The other two most common types of neuropathy I see in my practice are chemotherapy-induced neuropathy and idiopathic (cause unknown) neuropathy. There are many other types, but those tend to be much less common.
While our current protocols help over 90 percent of neuropathy patients, this was not always the case. We helped many people to improve their symptoms, but our overall success rate was closer to 60 percent. However, by adding in a new type of fascia release therapy that we had not used before, we are now able to help almost all of our patients with the three most common neuropathy types listed above.
Fascia is the sheet-like connective tissue that covers other tissues, including muscles and joints. The new fascia therapy technique we added to neuropathy treatment focuses on treating restrictions in the superficial fascia, located just under the skin. It is the connective tissue that joins the skin to the muscles underneath, while also allowing the skin to flex and move. We added this new treatment to our typical muscle and joint fascia release therapy for neuropathy patients. To complete each treatment, we use low-level laser therapy in the infrared wavelengths. This promotes increased energy production and metabolism in the injured nerve cells.
A patient whom I will refer to as Marilyn is a prime example of the success of using this protocol. Her diabetes had caused painful numbness in her feet that was severe enough to cause poor balance. She carried a cane with her for reassurance, and had greatly reduced her activities such as beach walks and even shopping due to worries about falling. The pain in her feet would often wake her at night.
As with all of my neuropathy patients, I tested her sensation perception in her feet. A sharp point felt dull to her on the arches and balls of her feet, and Marilyn could feel nothing at all on the pads of her toes. After one treatment at our office, she felt better balance on her feet. After two treatments, she began to feel dull sensation in her toe pads.
After the third treatment, she could feel the sharpness of a pointed object pressed against her arches, and her balance improved enough to elicit confidence in walking without her cane. After two months of treatment, Marilyn enjoyed beach walks again, and was able to sleep through the night without pain. While her feet are still slightly numb, we are able to maintain her improvements with just occasional treatment visits.
It is truly exciting to see the consistent results that neuropathy patients can experience with this combination of fascia release therapies and low-level laser therapy. Medications often help the pain of neuropathy but not the loss of sensation and balance. Neuropathy medications also often have strong side-effects, and I have treated many patients who are not able to tolerate taking them. Fortunately, there is a non-drug approach that works effectively for most people, and I am thrilled to help patients get relief with such a difficult problem.
Eric Winder, D.C., uses gentle manual therapy and rehab techniques, without forceful manipulation, to help patients with a wide range of pain and injury problems. For more information, call 941-957-8390 or visit Gentlebay.com. Dr. Winder’s offices are located in Sarasota and Osprey.