A National Institute of Health (NIH) study found out that an estimated 20 million people have some form of peripheral neuropathy in the United States alone. Many developed nations have similar rates of occurrence as well.
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that results from damage to the peripheral nervous system, the massive communications network responsible for transmitting information between the central nervous system (spinal cord and the brain) and other parts of your body. Often problems in the peripheral nerves will manifest in the feet and lower legs or hands and lower arms.
Neuropathy and peripheral neuropathy are two terms commonly used to refer to damage to a single nerve or group of nerves situated outside the brain and spinal cord. The majority of patients we see with peripheral neuropathy develop the condition secondary to a few other causes. Primarily those with:
- Type 2 diabetes (adult-onset)
- Spinal cord or nerve root compression and stenosis
- History of alcohol abuse
- Long term use of certain medications (especially statins for cholesterol)
The peripheral nervous system is a collection of nerves that connects the organs and limbs to the central nervous system. It is also made up of different kinds of nerves that sends both information and commands from the brain and spinal cord to the body and back.
The following are the peripheral nervous system nerves:
- Sensory nerves - communicates heat, cold, touch, and pain
- Motor nerves - controls movement and the muscles that allow movement
- Autonomic nerves - controls the involuntary or automatic functions of the body like the blood pressure, heart rate, and digestion
There are over 100 various types of neuropathy, although some are more common than others. To help narrow down the vastness of the condition, it is beneficial to think of it according to the following classifications:
- Functional classification - sensory, motor, autonomic or a combination
- Type of onset - hours, weeks, days, months, years
When diagnosing your neuropathy, our doctors will take into account the areas of your body that are affected. In most cases, peripheral neuropathy affects the extremities like your wrists, hands, arms, ankles, legs, and feet.
Understanding the number of nerves affected is also of prime importance during the diagnosis. Peripheral neuropathy can also be classified as:
- Polyneuropathic - a number of nerves are affected
- Mononeuropathic - only a single nerve is affected
- Multiple mononeuropathic - two separate nerves are affected simultaneously
Neuropathy symptoms can vary (minimal, moderate, or severe) depending on the type of nerves affected and the location of the nerves impacted. Some types of neuropathy only manifest symptoms when agitated by poor posture or exercise. Other kinds may exhibit symptoms randomly, and in some cases it may be present constantly.
Most peripheral neuropathy symptoms can manifest in the following forms:
- Ankle and foot pain
- Poor blood circulation to the extremities
- Limited range of movement
- Feeling of stepping on pins and needles, or “ants crawling”
- Tingling and numbness in the limbs and extremities
- Tremors and weakness
- Fatigue and chronic pain
- Balance or coordination problems
Here at Elite Spine Centres, our chiropractic physicians can effectively treat neuropathy and many of its accompanying symptoms. Before beginning any course of care, you will first be evaluated to determine the likely extent of peripheral nerve damage and whether or not you are well suited to the variety of treatment options we have available. Neuropathy treatment options for patients dealing with chronic peripheral neuropathy often respond well to:
- Polychromatic light therapy (PLT) - specific frequencies of infrared light are placed around the areas of concern for a period of 15-20 minutes to stimulate nitric oxide (NO) increase which helps improve blood circulation and nerve repair
- Whole body vibration (WBV) - good for nerve and brain stimulation for improving balance, strength and coordination…also stimulates blood and lymph circulation.
- Non-invasive spinal decompression (NSSD) - for patients with peripheral neuropathy and slipped disc or spinal canal stenosis, our advanced decompression equipment can help to relieve symptoms and take pressure off of descending nerves.
- Manual or instrument-assisted chiropractic care - maintaining proper structure and mobility of the joints will relieve localised pains and restore proper mobility to the tissues.
In addition, our doctors will also look into your nutritional habits, as improving the diet can have a noticeable impact on your symptoms and pain.
If you think you are suffering from the symptoms of neuropathy, book an appointment with us right away. At Elite Spine Centres, we provide specialised treatment plans so your condition is addressed and corrected before it degenerates further.
Author: Dr. Michael Bryant