By Dr. Aaron Williams, DC
Dr. Aaron Williams, DC is a graduate of Life University and vice president of the North Carolina Chiropractic Association central district.
Peripheral neuropathy is a serious condition that is affecting more and more Americans at an alarming rate. The condition which affects the “peripheral” (hands and feet), is a deterioration of the nerves that go to the extremities and causes damage over time.
The symptoms include burning, tingling, numbness or instability of the lower extremities, causing imbalance. Left untreated, it can result in long term disabilities and lifelong pain.
I have had patients so severely affected that even a sheet touching their toes in bed is so painful, they have to sleep with no covers at all. The nerves of our body are the roadwork for muscle movement and control. Losing this ability is frustrating and can cause depression and retreat from work and family.
There are different causes of peripheral neuropathy, but all appear to include inflammation. Inflammation due to stress can trigger symptoms that may become chronic, never ending over time. The stress can be chemical (a dentist suggested laughing gas had triggered his neuropathy), physical (possibly due to a recent fall), or emotional (loss of a family member or work stress).
My experience with peripheral neuropathy indicates a 50/50 chance of a patient having some prior pain in the neck or back. When I exam a patient and his x-rays, the diagnosis is almost always the same. All seem to have some degenerative disc disease; the hole, or foramen, where the lumbar or cervical nerves connect to our muscles, will usually show stenosis, a crowding of the nerve root area due to thin discs and arthritis of the vertebrae.
The unique aspect of this problem is that most patients under 60 years of age will have sciatica leg pain or radiating arm pain when the area is compressed, but a 70-year-old with the same disc or nerve irritation will not. There are cases of younger patients having peripheral neuropathy, but it’s not nearly as common.
Helping these patients improve their symptoms to a more manageable level is unique to our practice. I have devised a regimen that works well for a good percentage of the patients who have the best chance of improvement. The treatment focuses on the symptoms in the feet or hands and, most importantly, focuses on the “terminal hub” of the condition which is the spinal nerves.
Internal inflammation is dealt with and improved by modifying the current diet with a few supplements that are safe, natural and anti-inflammatory. These can be bought at our office or health food stores. The treatments use multiple electrical therapies, spinal decompression and a combination of heat therapies. A non-invasive soothing laser therapy on certain areas can strengthen the spine and extremities.
The goal is to produce a higher than normal oxygenated blood flow to the nerves (soft tissue) to reduce swelling and allow healing. The soft tissue cells, which have been damaged, lack oxygenated cells to heal. Home modifications give the treatments the best chances of improvement. The combination of these therapies and health modifications result in the high rate of success our office achieves. My goal is for all of our patients to see improvement after four weeks on a treatment cycle.
I want our patients to be the best they can be, telling their friends and family how and where they got better! If you have peripheral neuropathy, let us see if we can help you. Regain some of the quality of life back! If we do not feel you are a likely candidate for success, we will tell you, not wasting your time. Call today for your evaluation (336-790-7513).