Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy

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Peripheral neuropathy affects an estimated 20 million people in the United States, resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves, the nerves away from the spine. In most cases, the nerves affected are in the feet, lower legs, and hands; however in more severe cases it can affect nerves that supply vital organs.

Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy

  • Type II Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes is a growing epidemic in our country affecting close to 30 million Americans and that number continues to grow each year. Of those 30 million with diabetes, 60% will at some point develop peripheral neuropathy symptoms usually due to uncontrolled blood sugars. When a patient’s blood sugar is high for an extended period of time it causes the blood to thicken. This thickened blood cannot flow through the small blood vessels in the feet and hands, reducing the oxygen and nutrients to those cells, and more importantly, to the nerves in those areas.
  • Autoimmunity: Probably the most overlooked and ignored cause of peripheral neuropathy is autoimmunity. In simplistic terms, autoimmunity is when your immune system starts attacking the cells and tissues of your own body. With peripheral neuropathy, the white blood cells in your body start attacking your nerves causing damage and painful symptoms
  • Medications: Certain medications, most notably statin drugs, have side effects of nerve damage. One of the most important components of the peripheral nerves is a sheet of fat that wraps around them called myelin. If taking a statin drug, you’re reducing the fat throughout your body, limiting the production of the myelin sheath, again causing nerve damage. Chemotherapy drugs also damage the nerves in our body, which can lead to neuropathy symptoms.
  • Toxic Exposures: People that work in funeral parlors, factories, or shipping yards are at constant risk for exposure to toxic chemicals and must take precaution. Long term exposures to toxic chemicals can develop peripheral neuropathy due to the damage those toxins may cause.


Neuropathy is a progressive disease, the earlier it is caught and identified the easier and quicker symptoms can be reduced. If the condition goes untreated, the risk for severe and sometimes even permanent damage is higher. The early symptoms are usually mild and can include occasional tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. Over time those symptoms become more constant. As the nerve damage gets worse patients will start to develop more painful symptoms including burning, sharp, shooting, and electrical type pain. This is when most patient’s decide to start taking action. If untreated, the damage can progress to muscle weakness or atrophy, severe balance disorders, and even complete loss of sensation. We see patients that are unable to drive because they can’t feel the petals, patients unable to walk without assistance because they have very poor balance, and patients becoming dependent on others for help with daily activities.

Common Medical Treatment:

The standard medical treatments for peripheral neuropathy are usually drugs to mask the symptoms. Common drugs used to treat peripheral neuropathy include Gabapentin, Lyrica, and Cymbalta. One thing all these drugs have in common is that they are not actually designed to treat the condition. They do nothing to reverse or slow down the damage to the nerves. They are anti-seizure and anti-depressant medications, designed to work in your brain and literally shut off the communication between the nerves and the brain so you no longer perceive the symptoms. The damage to the nerve continues without you being aware. The symptoms will return, and when they do, the medication will be increased in dosage or you may be put on multiple medications.

Our Treatment Plan:

First, we must find the cause of your nerve damage. The next step is a comprehensive neurological evaluation to determine which specific nerve fibers are damaged and the severity of that damage. Not every cause of neuropathy is the same, so every patient’s treatment plan is not the same but designed for their cause and condition.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with neuropathy, or are currently experiencing any symptoms, don’t wait until it’s too late.  If there is damage to the peripheral nerves occurring, the earlier treatment is started the easier it is to correct.

If you are ready to take the first step to correcting your nerves register for a seminar today or call us at 410-216-6607