Is There Numbness, Tingling, or Pain in Your Extremities? It May Be Peripheral Neuropathy
At Algonquin Chiropractic Center, Dr. Galante employs a variety of techniques to treat the condition known as peripheral neuropathy. You may have heard of one form of this condition called carpal tunnel syndrome. Read on to learn about this condition, its symptoms and risk factors, and how we effectively treat it.
What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
If you’ve heard of carpal tunnel syndrome, you’ve heard of one form of peripheral neuropathy. However, peripheral neuropathy is a condition that describes the effects of a whole range of underlying disorders. It occurs when nerves are damaged in the part of the nervous system that excludes the brain and spinal cord, known as the peripheral nervous system.
Those nerves connect the spinal cord to muscles, skin, and internal organs. They’re divided into three categories:
- Sensory Nerves: These receive sensations such as pain, temperature, touch, and vibration from the skin.
- Motor Nerves: These nerves control the movement of your muscles.
- Autonomic Nerves: These ones control passive functions like digestion, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Peripheral neuropathy specifically happens because of damage to nerve axons, which are the long slender projections which project electrical impulses away from each neuron. The symptoms that this produces differs based on which of those three categories of nerves are affected.
What Are the Symptoms?
Peripheral neuropathy most often affects extremities like hands and feet, but can also affect internal organs. It also can affect one set of nerves (mononeuropathy) or more (polyneuropathy). Carpal tunnel is an example of mononeuropathy where the nerves in your hands are damaged.
Here’s a breakdown of the condition’s symptoms:
- Numbness, tingling, or prickling in feet or hands, which starts gradually and spreads up to the legs and arms
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Pain characterized as sharp, stabbing, burning, freezing, or throbbing
- Loss of coordination, falling
- Weakness or even paralysis of muscles (if motor nerves are affected)
When it’s the autonomic nerves that are affected, symptoms can also include:
- Unusual sweating and intolerance to heat
- Problems with the bladder, bowels, and digestion
- Lightheadedness or dizziness caused by changes to blood pressure
Who Is at Risk?
Peripheral neuropathy is common. It is estimated that upwards of 24 million Americans suffer from this illness. It can occur at any age, but is more common among older adults.
Of those 24 million, approximately 30% are “idiopathic,” or of an unknown cause. In another 30% of cases, the cause is diabetes. Other causes and risk factors include:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Trauma or pressure exerted on the nerve
- Nutritional imbalances
- Exposure to toxins, including chemotherapy
How Do We Treat Peripheral Neuropathy?
Once you’ve been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, you have two basic choices to address the symptoms: the medical model, or our chiropractic model.
The Medical Model for Treating Peripheral Neuropathy
First is the medical model, which has one real goal: control the symptoms. Medications that are used for chronic neuropathic pain fall under several classes of drugs: antidepressants, anticonvulsants, pain patches, and pain pills including opioid pain killers. Commonly used medications are Lyrica, Cymbalta, Gabapentin, and Neurontin.
This approach may make you more comfortable and help you tolerate the pain easier, but you may not like the side effects. More importantly, while these meds do lessen the symptoms, they’re really only masking and covering up the pain while the nerve damage continues to get worse with time.
The Algonquin Chiropractic Center’s Model for Treating Peripheral Neuropathy
The second approach requires you to think differently. If you’ve been to medical doctors or neurologists, they will tell you that there is “nothing you can do” and you will have to “learn to live with the pain.” This isn’t true.
We started by asking what we can do to heal the nerves and address the root cause of neuropathy. From there, we’ve developed an innovative and systematic approach to treating neuropathy and getting you back to happy living. Treatment methods we utilize for this condition include:
Together, these techniques typically result in a 50% improvement overall—that means significant reduction of your symptoms and improvement to your balance. If you’ve already tried other medical therapies such as medications and physical therapy, then our system is likely a good fit for you.
If you or a loved one has been affected by peripheral neuropathy, call Algonquin Chiropractic Center and schedule a consultation, so we can help you get back to enjoying the life you want to live.