Without nerves, the brain and spinal cord would run into dead ends, unable to send out messages to the entire body vital for survival such as muscle movement, sensation, five senses and organ function. This is a great example of how neuropathy works. In this week’s blog, we will discuss what neuropathy is, how it is managed and how our facility could be the solution for suffering patients.
What Is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is broken down into two words: “Neuro” meaning nerve and “Pathy” meaning disease. Therefore, neuropathy is a nerve disease that gets progressively worse as passes. In more blunt but accurate description of neuropathy is the failure and potential death of nerves, culminating in a loss of the entire function of a single or multiple nerves.
Mononeuropathy is when one nerve is affected. Polyneuropathy is when multiple nerves are affected. In the majority of neuropathy cases, multiple nerves are affected. Whether one nerve is affected or multiple nerves are affected, it’s still considered neuropathy and still presents a major issue to the body and one’s health.
In order to understand neuropathy further, one needs a brief understanding of the nervous system. The nervous system is broken down into three parts: Central, Peripheral and Autonomic.
The Central Nervous System (CNS)
The CNS is the powerhouse of the nervous system. It consists of both the brain and the spinal cord. The brain sends and receives signals to and from the spinal cord allowing human movement, sensation, reflexes and entire body function. Once signals leave the spinal cord and go out to the body, we are now in the Peripheral Nervous System.
The Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)
The PNS begins once we exit the spinal cord and messages are sent out to the arms and legs for full functioning. The PNS consists of spinal nerves and cranial nerves. We have 12 cranial nerves that have various functions such as sight, smell, hearing, touch and movement of the neck and face. Spinal nerves consist of two different nerves: motor and sensory. Motor nerves allow for human movement while sensory nerves allow for human sensation.
The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)
The ANS controls our internal organs such as the lungs and heart to allow for functions such as breathing, blood circulation, digestion, urination, etc. The ANS has two different responses: Sympathetic and Parasympathetic. These two responses work as a team to regulate organ function and do the opposite. For example: when the heart rate increases, that is a sympathetic response. When the heart decreases, that is a parasympathetic response.
So why is it important to talk about the nervous system when discussing neuropathy? The answer is that neuropathy most commonly affects the peripheral nervous system as well as the autonomic nervous system. The most common symptoms of neuropathy include loss of feeling in the arms/legs, muscle weakness, widespread sharp pains, loss of coordination, heat intolerance, bowel/bladder incontinence, digestive problems and irregular heart rate and blood pressure fluctuations.
There are over 200 different causes of neuropathy with the most common cause being idiopathic neuropathy which means no known cause. Some other common causes of neuropathy include exposure to toxins such as drugs, alcoholism or chemotherapy treatments, metabolic deficiencies due too lack of vitamins, or the ever-popular diabetes.
In any of these cases, they all pose the same threat: killing nerves. Remember, once someone gets neuropathy, they have to learn to live with neuropathy. The next question to ask is how does a patient cope and manage with neuropathy?
How Do Medical Doctors Manage Neuropathy Patients?
I think we all know the answer to this question. If you guessed medication, you answered correctly. There are several different medications that doctors have prescribed to patients over the years with the most common used include amitriptyline, duloxetine, pregabalin and gabapentin. Just like any drug used for pain, its only numbing the pain, not fixing the problem. Neuropathy patients can also get steroid injections or nerve blocks to help with pain, but again, its only numbing the pain, not fixing the problem. In addition to prescription drugs and injections, doctors may also give information on regular exerciseand dietary recommendations which is something we absolutely recommend. Many patients ask, is there a better way to manage neuropathy?
How Does Our Facility Manage Neuropathy Patients?
Did you know that there is another solution for neuropathy management that is both painless and effective? Using state of the art equipment, our facility has been successfully managing patients with neuropathy using horizontal therapy for years.
These next few sentences maybe very confusing, but there is no better way to explain horizontal therapy. HT is a simultaneous combination of the biochemical and bioelectrical effects of current on the human body. It is based on the premise that bioelectrical changes in living tissues are closely linked with biochemical changes, and vice-versa. By applying one form of therapy having both effects, one obtains a synergistic effect via improved communication between the cells.
From the functional standpoint, the effects induced by HT in relation to symptomatic components of pathology are the reduction of pain, excess muscular recruitment, and improvements in range of motion (ROM) as an indirect effect of rigidity outside the joints and improves deficiency in motor functional activity as the result. HT has demonstrated the ability to increase ATP production within cells. This means increased energy production. Recent research has also shown that HT increases production of catalase, gluthathione and reactivation of Super Oxidase Dismutase which works to reduce dangerous free radicals resulting from cellular oxidation. Additionally, HT has shown to increase protein synthesis, tissue regeneration, bacterial destruction and improved immunomodulation.
In sum, horizontal therapy changes cell structure which will stimulate the body’s fighting response to the body and increase the healing process to allow regeneration. Now think about nerves and the nervous system. Just like the rest of the body, nerves contain cells which allow horizontal therapy to come in, restructure nerve cells and regenerate failing nerves. This process helps our neuropathy patients to get back on their feet and to live normal healthy lives.
Just like our decompression program featured in last week’s blog, our neuropathy patients also go through a vigorous program to get them better. Just like any patient who walks into our facility, a consultation will be performed to learn about the patient’s case followed by a series of x-rays and thorough neurological examination in the region of complaint.
One way a neuropathy examination differs from either a chiropractic or decompression examination is that the doctors must dig a little deeper and perform a set of tests designed specifically for neuropathy to determine the severity of the condition.
Once the examination process is complete, a treatment plan is designed for each patient. No patient has the same treatment plan like a decompression patient does in our office. It all depends on the case severity of each neuropathy patient. Some patients may only need 10-15 treatments, where others may need 40 treatments. Once a treatment plan has been completed, patients are then placed on a maintenance program that we will discuss in a future blog.
We covered a lot of ground in such a short period of time. We hope that you learned something about neuropathy. If there is one thing we want you to remember about this week’s blog, don’t take neuropathy lightly and get it managed before it gets progressively worse. Realize that there is an alternative solution to drugs and injections. We are the only facility in the Pittsburgh tri-state area that has this state-of-the art equipment for neuropathy management. If you or someone you know is tired of living in pain and have tried just about anything to do just that, please consider our neuropathy management program. It could be your saving grace. If you have any questions about neuropathy, please feel free to call us at 724) 547-3377 and checkout our website at www.drlarrywilkinsspinalcare.com for more content on neuropathy.
Yours In Health,
Larry E. Wilkins, DC
Brian M. Steinert, DC