Peripheral Neuropathy is a nerve condition in the feet, legs, hands and arms that results in pain, tingling or numbness. A chiropractor can use pulsed electromagnetic frequencies to stimulate the nerve flow to treat the condition with great results.
What is peripheral neuropathy and what causes it?
Dr. Harry Schick: Peripheral neuropathy is a condition where, if we look at what the words mean, peripheral means having to do with an outer part of the body. It relates to the arms and hands or legs and feet. That’s what peripheral means. Neuropathy means basically that there’s something pathological, something wrong with the nerves. Peripheral neuropathy means there is a nerve problem in the feet, the hands, the arms, and the legs.
First, let me say that the symptoms of it, if people have it, can be pain in those areas, can be a lack of feeling. Some people complain of tingling. Some people say that their feet feel cold. Others say at nighttime when they are lying in bed, they can’t stand having a blanket on their feet, because it is too irritating. There are a lot of different ways in which the neuropathy, or the nerve imbalance, can take place.
The causes of neuropathy are many. The causes are divided generally between structural issues and chemical issues. From a chemical perspective, unfortunately, statin drugs are a main contributor to peripheral neuropathy because they interfere with those nerves. Also, it can be to diabetes where a person has decreased nerve flow due to blood sugar imbalances. It can even be due to something like a person eating something that their body reacts to. It is almost the way people think of an allergy but it irritates the nerves. One of the first things that has to be done is figure out, in terms of chemically, is there some irritant.
The other thing going on is structural. In this area, it can be any number of places. I’ll give you one or two examples to make the structural make sense. In a structural issue, it can be a pinched nerve in the back affecting the nerve flow going to the feet or the legs, or it could be a pinched nerve in the neck affecting nerve flow to the hands and arms.
It could also be to a decreased firing in the brain. A person’s brain has to fire or send out nerve flow. If a person’s brain has become fatigued, it can lead to peripheral neuropathy. This is one of the many things that we see with this type of brain fatigue, particularly when it’s coupled with diabetes or some other kind of a blood imbalance. This is also how statin drugs can be implicated in it.
I know you just touched on a lot of things but how is peripheral neuropathy diagnosed? Are certain people at risk for getting it?
Dr. Harry Schick: Usually a person knows that they have the problem. It usually happens because a person comes into our clinic and they’re complaining of a tingling in the hands or feet. Or they walk on the carpeting without their shoes on and they can’t feel the floor or the carpet under their feet. Or they have some kind of a pain. The pain can be in the feet or in the hands or it can be from the elbow down or the knees down.
We had somebody the other day coming in. Everything was fine except one foot was ice cold. That is an example of the symptoms of it.
When they come in, it is diagnosed in a few ways. We can do an EMG which is a technical way of finding out if the nerve flow is going to the feet. That is a needle test but generally there are simpler ways to tell.
For example, we use tuning forks. A person has to have an ample sense of vibration in their feet, for example, in order to show that the nerves are flowing properly. What we will do, for example, is we’ll take a tuning fork and put it on the person’s shoulder and they can feel their vibration. Let’s say the vibration there is a 10 on a scale of one to 10. Then we do the vibration on their thumb and they only feel it, compared to the shoulder, at a five. Many times, we’ll then do it on their toes and they may not feel any vibration whatsoever.
We can diagnose it or analyze it in terms of technical laboratories, like an EMG, and we can also do it in the office based on doing different tests like vibration. Also, muscle testing. We measure temperature in the hands and feet. These are all ways in which neuropathy shows up.
In what ways can peripheral neuropathy be taken care of naturally?
Dr. Harry Schick: There are a few ways that really work wonderfully. Number one, if we look at and we see that there is a chemical relation, for example, somebody is on statin drugs. A lot of times we’ll advise them to have that reassessed if we feel the neuropathy is coming from there. If we see that there may be certain foods that are involved, and of course, if the person is diabetic, many times people are diabetic and they’re still having problems with inflammation due to sugar levels. We can counsel them in terms of diet and talk about different supplements that will help lower inflammation and increase nerve flow.
In the office here, one of the main things we use is called pulsed electromagnetic frequencies, abbreviated as PEMF. If we want to increase the nerve flow, for example, to the feet, one of the things people commonly have used in the past is electrical stimulation, similar to a TENS machine although somewhat different. The problem with electrical stimulation is that you can’t turn it up too high and often can’t turn it up high enough to really make a difference. A doctor can put an electrical stimulator on the feet but they are limited to how high they can turn it up because if they turn it too high, it’ll actually burn the skin.
We use electromagnetic frequencies, which can be turned up as high as need be in order to help increase the circulation. For example, a person can come in here and they’ll have a feeling on their toes of a one or a two in terms of vibration. Sometimes even after just a 10-minute session, their sense of feel in their feet can go up to a five or a six. It is really amazing.
Is it possible to fully recover from peripheral neuropathy with ongoing treatment?
Dr. Harry Schick: Well, that’s a good question. A lot depends on how long a person has had it, what the causes are and if the person’s willing to do everything that is necessary. On a scale of one to 10, if a person comes in with a 10 as worse as can be, and it is been there for a long time, we talk with them and manage their ideas of what can be done.
We find that they’re very happy if we can get it down to a four or a five. They can feel their feet again and they can walk without difficulty. The temperature comes back. They may still have some slight tingling or some numbness but it doesn’t really interfere with their lives anymore. Where if we get somebody earlier on, we get it to where they tell us they are symptom free.
A lot depends on how long they’ve had it. But for most people, they are very, very happy to get to the point where it is not bothering them and they don’t find it interfering with their lives anymore.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Harry Schick, visit www.highpointhealth.com or call (732) 249-9800 to schedule an appointment.
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