There are many neuropathy treatment options available to ease neuropathy pain. An incredible 20 million Americans suffer each year from a condition traced to a malfunction in the peripheral nerves. What is peripheral neuropathy and how is it treated? Can chiropractic care help patients with peripheral neuropathy?
A Look at Your Nervous System
Your peripheral nervous system is the system of nerves outside your brain and spinal cord. It is responsible for transmitting messages to your brain and body. The peripheral nervous system consists of the sensory nerves, motor nerves, and autonomic nerves. And, if there is nerve damage, you will experience problems with how you’re responding to pain, temperature, and other reflexes.
Sensory nerves carry messages from your five senses through your spinal cord to your brain. For example, a sensory nerve would tell your brain information about the way shoes feel on your feet.
These types of nerves travel in the other direction than sensory nerves. They carry messages from the brain to muscles, telling muscles when and how to contract to generate movement. For example, the reaction of pulling your hand away from fire.
Autonomic nervous system
Autonomic nerves are responsible for body functions that happen automatically, and they are out of your direct control. The body functions include breathing, digestion, heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, bladder control, and sexual arousal. The autonomic nerves are constantly monitoring the external stresses and bodily needs. For instance, when you go jogging, your body temperature rises. The autonomic nervous system activates sweating to prevent your body’s temperature from rising too high.
Signs and symptoms of Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy can cause pain, weakness, and numbness. It is common to feel muscle weakness in the area of the body that is affected. Some people develop paralysis to a part of their body or a loss of muscle control, loss of muscle tone, and difficulty holding objects on their hands. Other symptoms are muscle twitching, feelings of pins and needles, and electric-like pain. You may also feel tingling, numbness in your extremities, burning sensations, sharp pain, stabbing pain, and throbbing pain.
There may be bowel and urine issues, such as inability to urinate or constipation, low blood pressure, and abnormal heart rate. There are over one hundred types of neuropathies and each develops differently. Some peripheral neuropathies can take years to develop while others develop slowly over time.
Cause of Neuropathy
There are many deficiencies and ailments that can cause neuropathy. The primary cause in the United States is diabetes. Studies show that anywhere from 60% to 70% of patients with diabetes will develop a type of neuropathy called small fiber neuropathy or diabetic neuropathy or diabetic peripheral neuropathy. This condition mainly causes painful burning sensations in the hands and feet.
Another cause of nerve pain includes autoimmune disorders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Guillian-Barre syndrome, and Sjogren’s syndrome. Also, common infections such as chickenpox, shingles, herpes, Lyme disease, and West Nile may cause neuropathies to develop as well as HIV and hepatitis C.
Medication and poisons can also cause neuropathy. For example, some antibiotics, anti-seizure medications, and HIV medications can cause nerve damage. And medical treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can damage the nerves. Exposures to heavy contaminants and chemicals, such as industrial chemicals, can also affect nerve function.
Diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy requires a complete medical history. Your primary care doctor will ask you about your medical history, family history of neurological diseases, the current symptoms, contact to toxins, and lifestyle questions such as alcohol consumption.
After an initial neurological exam, consisting of testing your reflexes, muscle strength, testing sensations on different parts of your body, posture, and coordination, you may have blood tests. The blood tests can detect any number of deficiencies, diabetes, disrupted immune dysfunction, and signs of the cause of neural periphery.
You may also have a CT or an MRI to look for herniated disks, polyps, tumors, or other abnormalities. The doctor may perform nerve tests such as Electromyography (EMG). This test logs the electrical activity in your muscles and will identify nerve damage. At the same time as the EMG, you will most likely have a nerve conduction study. The nerve conduction test consists of having flat electrodes placed on your skin to stimulate nerves. The responses are then recorded.
There are other nerve function tests for peripheral neuropathy. The tests include an autonomic reflex test that records how well the nerve fibers working, a sweat test to measure your ability to sweat, and sensory tests to see how you respond to touch, cold, heat, and vibration. Finally, you may undergo a nerve biopsy, where a tiny portion of the nerve is removed to look for abnormalities. Your doctor may also order a skin biopsy, which tests the skin to look for a decline in nerve endings.
Treatments for Neuropathy to provide relief
Conventional treatment goals are to control the condition causing your neuropathy and to relieve symptoms. There are several pain management treatment options that include pain medication and physical therapy.
There is also a natural treatment or alternative therapies – chiropractic care. Chiropractic care uses a holistic approach of finding the root of the nerve pain, treating it, while also aligning your spine, as well as recommending exercise and diet control.
Medication for Pain Management
Medications used for epilepsy or depression may be helpful due to their effects on nerve signals, while anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, are not effective when treating nerve pain. Other medications are Neurontin (Gabapentin), Lyrica (Pregabalin), and Cymbalta (Duloxetine).
There are topical treatments that can relieve symptoms. such as Capsaicin cream and lidocaine patches Other medications such as anti-depressants can also assist in pain relief. Opioid analgesics, including narcotics or painkillers, are an option in some cases but are not the first choice. This is due to the high instance of addiction. Typically, medication does not entirely eliminate nerve pain.
Research has shown that exercises, when done regularly, may reduce neuropathic pain. Research also suggests that strengthening exercises for peripheral neuropathy moderately improve muscle strength in people with chronic pain A therapist can prescribe a comprehensive routine. The exercises will include cardio, weight training, stretching, and balance exercises.
How does chiropractic care work for neuropathy?
Chiropractic care involves manual adjustments (manipulation) of the spine and other joints of your body. It also focuses on the nervous system to eradicate the pain. This is a natural approach to managing neuropathic pain and is also designed to focus on the root cause of the nerve pain.
During the procedure, a chiropractor will use their hands to apply controlled force on your spinal joints. Also, they may apply different techniques and adjustments to improve your overall health.
Overall Health Benefits
When treating neuropathy with corrective chiropractic care, you are choosing an all-natural and therapeutic approach. Chiropractic care may also correct the underlying causes to help slow down the progression of neuropathy.
An Individualized Treatment
The traditional approach for peripheral neuropathy pain management is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment approach. Chiropractic therapy, on the other hand, is designed for your unique needs. Chiropractic care not only relieves your peripheral neuropathy pain, but it will work for your ideal health and wellness. Besides relieving your pain, you’ll notice changes throughout your entire body. The techniques can help realign your spine and release muscle tension. Overall, they will restore your body’s balance, help you relax, and improve your posture over time.
Conditions we Treat and So Much More
Our highly skilled Chiropractors can treat most physical ailments such as sore muscles, back and neck pain, and as well as muscle weakness. Come see us at Epic Healthcare & Physical Medicine in Flower Mound, TX for neuropathy treatment options and a customized treatment plan. Request and appointment to evaluate your symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. We have many pain treatments to offer for neuropathy pain relief.