Do you suffer with burning hands and feet?
What are the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy?
- Burning, tingly, prickly, numb like pain (aka “paresthesia”)
- Extremities that are sensitive to touch.
- A feeling like you are wearing a glove or sock.
- Muscle weakness.
- Loss of coordination or balance.
- Sharp, stabbing or shooting pains.
What causes peripheral neuropathy?
There are multiple causes e.g.
- Hereditary diseases.
- Autoimmune disorders.
- Nutritional deficiencies (especially – B, B5, B6, B12).
- Spinal disk syndromes.
- Nerve root entrapment/damage.
- Liver Damage.
However, the main cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes; about a third of all diabetics will develop the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Also, many people who use statin drugs can develop these symptoms. One should always investigate the side effect of all drugs the patient may be taking. And, don’t forget to rule out small blood vessel disorders like Raymond’s syndrome and Buerger’s disease and other peripheral vascular diseases.
How is Peripheral Neuropathy diagnosed?
It is important to perform a thorough physical exam, certain highly indicated and specialized neurological and neuro-orthopedic exams, do a complete blood chemistry exam; and when the spine or joints are involved, a radiological study may also be appropriate and necessary.
How widespread is peripheral neuropathy?
An estimated 20 million people in the U.S. have some form of peripheral neuropathy. More than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy have been identified; each has its own symptoms and prognosis. In general, peripheral neuropathies are classified according to the type of damage to the nerves. The three major categories are:
- Motor nerve damage.
- Sensory nerve damage.
- Autonomic nerve damage.
It is important to get an accurate diagnosis and start appropriate treatment as soon as possible after the symptoms start to avoid permanent nerve damage and long term disability.
What can be done holistically
If you have diabetes and peripheral neuropathy, the highest priority is to normalize your blood sugar levels and keep them stable. This can definitely be done with appropriate diet, exercise, weight loss and selected nutraceuticals. The next step is to reduce swelling and inflammation in and around the affected peripheral nerves.
This can often be accomplished by using any of the following modalities:
- Low level laser and L.E.D. therapies
- Alpha lipoic acid supplementation from a knowledgeable holistic doctor who is aware of dosages and side affects.
- Certain herbs, such as: St Johns Wort and Evening Primrose oil, can reduce neuropathic pain in people with diabetes and other neurological syndromes.
- Amino acids, such as: Acetyl-L-Carnatine have been shown to be helpful at selected dosages; however, side affects may include nausea and vomiting.
- The use of powerful antioxidants such as, Acetyl-Glutathione or N-Acetyl Cystine can be extremely helpful.
- Fish oils that contain Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce inflammation and improve blood flow at therapeutic dosages.
- CoQ10 and Gingo Biloba can also be effective in managing the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.
- The herb “Nettles” which is rich in minerals and is particularly good in handling the stinging sensations in peripheral neuropathy.
- B-vitamins, like: B1 B6 B12 can be crucial in healing peripheral nerves.
- Oatseed can be useful in some people in helping with numbness and weakness in their limbs.
- Eating gluten free, if you have any autoimmune disease associated with peripheral neuropathy, is vital to your recovery.