Symptoms of neuropathy can vary greatly from patient to patient and there is no single treatment that works for everyone.
Neuropathy is defined as any condition that affects normal nerve activity and function. In the United States, it is most often caused by type 2 diabetes, auto-immune diseases, infections, inherited disorders, tumors, or cancer treatment. It can also be caused by alcoholism, exposure to toxins or poisons, medications, injuries and vitamin deficiencies.
For some who suffer from neuropathy, neuropathic nerve damage can feel like fuzziness, numbness, or sharp pain in their hands and feet. For others, it feels like they have socks balled up under their toes. In more severe cases it can be very painful and even lead to extreme sensitivity to touch, muscle weakness, or problems with walking, moving and balance.
According to Dr. Mark Shelley, a doctor of chiropractic and a board certified functional neurologist at Sound Pain Solutions, the symptoms of neuropathy can vary greatly from patient to patient and there is no single treatment that works for everyone.
According to the Mayo Clinic, medications and topical treatments, including pain relievers, antiseizure medications and antidepressants, are commonly used to treat neuropathy. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, which involves electrodes that deliver gentle current to the skin is another common option. Physical therapy can help patients build muscles and improve mobility. Plasma exchange and intravenous immune globulin can help suppress immune system activity. And surgery can help relieve neuropathy caused by pressure on the nerves.
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But what if these treatments don’t work?
“There’s no pill that covers up numbness because it’s really a loss of sensation,” Shelley says. “Additionally, many of our patients come to us after hearing other care providers say, ‘sorry, you’ve got neuropathy and there’s nothing we can do to treat it. You will have to live with it.’ ”
However, in his 30+ years of experience, Shelley has found that there are other solutions that can help these patients – even when the cause is unknown and other efforts have failed.
According to Shelley, the following therapies have been cleared by the FDA and are gaining traction in the world of neuropathy treatment.
- High-dose laser therapy that may help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Vibration therapy that can help increase muscle strength and endurance.
- Nutritional supplements to keep nerves healthy.
- Lifestyle recommendations to help patients balance blood sugar levels or lose weight when necessary.
- Joint mobilization and adjustments to help keep joints, muscles and nerves healthy.
- Trigenics to build strength and balance.
- Infrared therapy that can help feed and exercise the nerves.
- Nonsurgical spinal decompression to release pressure on the nerves.
- Balance therapy to help patients maintain their ability to walk and function normally.
Shelley, who uses these treatments on patients, says they work together to bring exercise to the nerves. He estimates they lessen symptoms by about 50% in the majority of their patients.
Bill Fetrow, from Mountlake Terrace, suffered from years of numbness and swelling on the bottoms of his feet, and the feeling of socks bunched up under his toes. He says he couldn’t stand without pain for more than four hours before he was treated using these FDA cleared therapies
“Now I can walk across the long stretch of fields to watch my grandkids play soccer without having to stop three or four times to take breaks,” Fetrow says. “I’ve returned to bowling with my buddies and I picked up 8-10 pins on my game average.”
As for Shelley, he believes treating neuropathy is about helping the body heal itself. “No doctor heals anyone of anything. Our body does the healing and the best thing we can do is to create an optimal environment for the body to repair itself.”
Sound Pain Solutions clinics provide care for chronic spine and joint pain as well as peripheral neuropathy. Their FDA-cleared therapies include nonsurgical decompression, high-dose laser, chiropractic care and advanced rehabilitation procedures. All care is supervised by staff chiropractic physicians.