Neuropathy is one of the most common nervous system conditions. In fact, over 20 million Americans suffer from neuropathy today, and the number continues to increase. One of the main reasons for this is that 60% of people with diabetes suffer from diabetic neuropathy. With the diabetic population ever-increasing, this means the neuropathy population will also continue to increase.
To understand neuropathy, it is best to begin with an overview of the nervous system. The brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system. This is the control center of the body responsible for telling everything else how to function. These “messages” are relayed by the peripheral nervous system, which are the nerves that connect the spinal cord to all of our muscles, glands, organs, and organ systems. There are different types of peripheral nerves that have different jobs to do. There are sensory nerves, which send information such as pain, touch, and temperature to the brain for processing. There are also motor nerves, which communicate signals from the brain to move muscles. If these nerves get damaged, it affects how those nerves function and their ability to communicate properly. Over time, this can be the root cause of many symptoms or health challenges that people face.
As mentioned, neuropathy can be secondary to medical conditions such as diabetes, but it can also be secondary to autoimmune conditions, inflammatory conditions, and even be caused by chemotherapy treatments. Nerves are like most tissues in the body, they need oxygen and nutrients in order to function properly. When they don’t get these things, they begin to wither and break down. This is what neuropathy is and it has a devastating effect on the quality of life of millions of sufferers. Some of the most common symptoms of neuropathy include pain, numbness, weakness, and balance issues, but it can also cause many other symptoms. Medical treatments for neuropathy usually amount to medications such as Gabapentin, injections/nerve blocks, and/or surgery. While these may help to mask the symptoms, they do not address the root cause of the problem. Ultimately, this results in people struggling for years and decades with no improvement to show for it.
At the Springfield Wellness Center, we take a different approach to treating neuropathy. An approach that promotes healing from within by addressing the root cause of the issue. Our combined protocols address this multi-faceted problem to ensure that the body is in the proper state and environment to allow these nerves to heal. When this happens, true progress can be made and quality of life can begin to be restored.
How We Treat Neuropathy in Springfield, IL
Consultation and Exam
Any new patient who comes to our office will start their journey the same way: with an in-depth consultation and examination. This is where you first meet the doctor and discuss the problems and challenges you have been facing. Your doctor will really listen to you and wants to discover just how much neuropathy has affected your life. This is also the time to tell your doctor about your medical history and any other conditions you may have. This critical information will help your doctor understand your condition and what may be the root cause of it.
After the consultation, your doctor will perform a detailed neurologic examination to determine where any sensory (feeling) or motor (movement) deficits may be. This is good baseline data to have for comparison purposes in future exams. The initial examination will also include a chiropractic examination in which the doctor will check your spine for subluxation, a condition that can cause nerve interference and irritation. After this initial visit, you will return for a follow-up in which the doctor will review the findings from your exam and provide recommendations for care.
Anodyne Infrared Therapy in Springfield, IL
Neuropathy occurs when nerves are starved of nutrients such as oxygen. This causes the nerve to shrivel and decay, which decreases its function and is the source of common neuropathy symptoms. A vital component of successfully healing neuropathy is re-establishing abundant blood flow to these nerves, and infrared light therapy through an Anodyne machine is one of the best ways to do that. As part of our protocol, you will receive an anodyne unit and administer the treatment yourself from the comfort of your own home. It is a device that straps to either the leg/foot or the arm/hand and provides painless treatment.
Infrared light therapy has several known benefits for nerves. First, it stimulates angiogenesis, which is the creation of new blood vessels. If a nerve is lacking blood supply, it makes sense to provide more blood vessels to increase that supply. Second, this treatment stimulates the release of nitric oxide in our blood vessels. Nitric oxide is a known vasodilator, meaning it causes the blood vessel to open more to allow more blood flow. This will also enhance the nerve’s ability to get oxygen and other nutrients from the bloodstream. Finally, using the anodyne helps to decrease inflammation, which is toxic to nerves, and this can help accelerate the healing process.
ReBuilder Nerve Stimulation
As peripheral nerves begin to wither, they lose their ability to do the important job of relaying nerve signals back and forth between the body and the brain. If you are going to adequately treat neuropathy, you need a mechanism by which the nerves can be strengthened and re-educated on how to function properly. This is precisely what the ReBuilder Nerve Stimulator does.
Like the anodyne infrared light unit, the rebuilder is a device that you will use from the comfort of your own home as directed by your doctor. This nerve stimulator uses impulse waves to stimulate the nerves and, in some cases, “wake them up”. Over time, this strengthens the nerves and decreases pain, numbness & tingling, and other neuropathy symptoms. When combined with the other treatments in our protocol, it helps to provide a wholesome healing experience that can help you get back to doing the things you want to or need to do in your life.
Chiropractic Care in Springfield, IL
A healthy nervous system is the key to a healthy life. The nervous system controls all other functions of the body. Chiropractic care is one of the best ways to take care of and optimize your nervous system. When treating neuropathy, it is ideal for the spine to have as little interference as possible. Subluxations in the spine can impact how well the spinal cord and nerves relay information to and from the brain. Chiropractors are the only experts in healthcare who are trained to identify and correct subluxations.
Additionally, chiropractors can adjust other joints in the body besides the spine, especially when it comes to neuropathy. The hands and feet are two of the most common areas where neuropathy symptoms affect people. Getting these adjusted by a chiropractor regularly can help provide a flood of nerve signals to the brain. This can help dilute pain and other neuropathy symptoms that travel the same nerve pathways back to the brain.
Nutrition and Supplementation
The treatments discussed thus far are all external by nature, meaning they come from outside the body. However, they are only half the battle. Nerves can only heal if they are in the proper internal environment and that is largely dictated by what we consume in our diet. The reality is that most Americans have a poor, pro-inflammatory diet that is high in sugar and low in nutrients. Inflammation is toxic to nerves and causes a lower pH balance in the blood (more acidic). This is especially harmful to nerves and blood vessels alike. A healthy internal environment is necessary to truly heal from this debilitating condition.
For this reason, it is suggested that patients participating in our neuropathy protocol consume a paleo-style diet that is high in protein sources and vegetables and low in carbohydrates and grains. This can decrease inflammation and create a more stable internal environment. Supplementing with nitric oxide is another great way to dilate blood vessels to get more blood flow to wilting nerves so they can receive the nutrients they need. Like any diet, it has to be consistent or it simply won’t work. It has to become a lifestyle if a person is serious about addressing this condition in the right way.
Types of Neuropathy in Springfield, IL
Diabetes is one of the most common causes of neuropathy. Remember, nerves have their own blood supply that is necessary for receiving nutrients to keep nerves healthy. This requires the blood itself to be healthy and nourishing for the nerves to thrive. If blood is not healthy, such as in diabetes where blood sugar levels are high, this can cause damage to the nerves over time.
Diabetic neuropathy is most commonly seen in the legs and feet and the most common symptoms are pain and numbness & tingling. It is not sufficient to treat only the neuropathy symptoms and hope they go away. To effectively heal diabetic neuropathy, you have to help heal the root cause, which in this case is diabetes. Dietary and lifestyle changes must happen to help improve the health of the individual and help their blood sugar levels decrease and stabilize. If maintained, this can not only help heal the neuropathy but also ensure that it doesn’t return.
Cancer is one of the worst and deadliest conditions a person can have. It is commonly treated with some combination of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery. Unfortunately, a common side effect of some types of chemotherapy treatments is neuropathy. Chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy causes many of the same symptoms as other forms of neuropathy, and it has the potential to linger long after chemotherapy treatments have been stopped. Some of the more common chemotherapy drugs that cause neuropathy are thalidomide, cisplatin, docetaxel, as well as several others. Even if you are currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment, addressing the root cause of neuropathy and treating it appropriately can help reduce neuropathy symptoms and increase overall function.
Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of neuropathy that affects people. The peripheral nervous system is what connects the spinal cord to the rest of the body, so these nerves have the potential to be quite long. This means that symptoms can be felt in a variety of locations, though the most commonly affected areas are the hands, fingers, feet, and toes. These symptoms can include pain, burning, weakness, numbness, and tingling. Peripheral neuropathy can also cause coordination and balance issues when it is affecting the feet. Peripheral neuropathy can be caused by infection, injury, or other medical conditions. For example, one of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. If you think you may have peripheral neuropathy, the Springfield Wellness Center is ready to help you.
Proximal neuropathy is a rare form of neuropathy that affects muscles in the upper part of the legs, buttocks, and hips. It can sometimes resemble sciatica in that it can shoot from the buttock region down into the legs, but normally has a different root cause than traditional sciatica. It typically presents with sharp, sudden pain in the hip or buttocks, but sometimes as the lower extremity pain starts to improve, it can cause similar symptoms in the upper extremities. Like peripheral neuropathy, one of the most common causes of proximal neuropathy is diabetes. Therefore, one of the best ways to help treat proximal neuropathy is lifestyle changes that can improve health and better control the diabetic condition.
The autonomic nervous system is a special part of our body’s nervous system that is responsible for controlling all involuntary functions of the body. Involuntary functions are the things your body does to thrive without you having to think about it. Examples of this would be breathing while you sleep, your heart constantly beating, and your stomach digesting food once you consume it. If you have damage to these nerves, as in autonomic neuropathy, your body may have a difficult time regulating some of these essential functions. Symptoms of autonomic neuropathy depend on which specific nerves are being affected. For example, if the nerves that control your heart are damaged, it is possible to experience symptoms such as blood pressure problems, rapid or slow heartbeat, fatigue, or lightheadedness.
Conditions like peripheral neuropathy tend to be the result of damage to multiple nerves in the body. In contrast, focal neuropathy is a condition in which a single, specific nerve is affected. One of the most common types of focal neuropathies is caused by carpal tunnel syndrome, in which one specific nerve, the median nerve, is being compressed. The median nerve travels through the carpal tunnel in the wrist. Excessive use or damage can cause inflammation to develop within the carpal tunnel, which takes up space. When the median nerve is compressed due to lack of space, it can cause symptoms such as pain, numbness, weakness, and burning into the hand. This is known as nerve entrapment and it is the most common cause of most focal neuropathies.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a chiropractor in Springfield, IL help with neuropathy?
Yes. The chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center take a multi-faceted approach to treating neuropathy. Their approach combines cutting-edge technology, customized office treatment, and lifestyle education to not only aid in healing neuropathy but also help the individual heal as a whole. Health is the ultimate objective.
Can spinal decompression help with neuropathy?
Yes, spinal decompression can help with neuropathy, depending on what the source of the neuropathy is. If there is compression of the nerve root at the spinal level due to subluxation or a disc bulge, then decompression would help restore nerve function by taking the pressure off the nerve near the spine.
If the neuropathy is secondary to a condition like diabetes and only felt in the feet, toes, hands, or fingers, however, then decompression may not be addressing the root cause of the problem. Our chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center can help point you in the right direction.
How long does it take for neuropathy to go away?
It is estimated that neuropathy can take 18-24 months to fully heal, but it is very common to get great results within the first 90 days of treatment if the care plan is adhered to. Oftentimes people will experience a reduction of their symptoms during this window, which can provide a boost in their quality of life. After you do your first re-examination after 90 days, your doctor will provide you with a new set of recommendations based on your results so that you can continue to heal appropriately.
Can neuropathy be healed?
Yes, neuropathy can be healed if the right environment is provided for the body to heal. Not only does it require consistency with the appropriate external treatment measures, but it also takes providing a healthy internal environment for healing to actually occur. For many, this can require a dramatic lifestyle change, especially when it comes to one’s diet. Neuropathy doesn’t happen overnight, nor should you expect it to heal overnight. It is a process that must be adhered to in order to get the best results.
Does neuropathy go away?
Neuropathy is a progressive condition, meaning it will continue to get worse over time unless the right measures are put in place to stop the damage and start the healing. This is why many people find themselves taking the same medications for years with higher and higher doses and still experience symptoms. Medications aren’t fixing the problem, they’re just masking the symptoms. With the right treatment approach, however, neuropathy can be managed and even resolved over time.