COMPREHENSIVE THERAPIES FOR PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY
Neuropathy rehabilitation plans are customized to each patient’s treatment needs. Not all our therapies are appropriate or necessary for every patient. Treatment may include:
- High Dose Laser Therapy
- Vibration Therapy
- Nutritional Supplementation
- Lifestyle Recommendations (like sleep, diet, exercise, stress management)
- Non-surgical Spinal Decompression
- Balance Therapy
- Infrared Therapy
- Manual Therapy: Joint mobilization/adjustment, Trigenics, High Dose Laser Therapy
Clinical studies and research using laser therapy have demonstrated reduced pain and inflammation, as well as stimulated nerve regeneration, muscle relaxation, and improved immune system response. There are many different types of lasers, depending on the specific wavelength, frequency, and power. lasers can be used to cut through steel, or to heal damaged tissue.
The Class IV Laser was FDA approved in 2001. This specific class of laser produces light in the visible and near infrared range, which is absorbed by mitochondria and the cell membranes. Our body can benefit from absorbing certain frequencies and wavelengths of light, like the way plants benefit from sunlight and use it to grow. ATP is the “energy currency” of the cell, so higher levels lead to an increase in cellular health, and an increased rate of repair.
Both whole body and region specific vibration therapy may be used in our treatment of neuropathy. Whole body vibration therapy has been used for the treatment of pain, rehabilitation, and to enhance athletic performance. Studies have demonstrated benefits such as:
- Increased muscle strength and endurance. Muscle fibers can be activated up to 20-50 times per second. This allows muscle fibers to be exercised rigorously in a short period.
- Increased blood and lymph circulation. Rapid contraction of the muscles produces a pumping action that increases circulation. This enhances the removal of cellular waste products, and improves the delivery of nutrients and fuel.
- Increased activity of nerves. Vibrations activate receptors in the skin, which improves neuron function and viability.
- Increased bone mineral density. Vibration has also been shown to increase the activity of osteoblast cells that make new bone, and to decrease the activity of osteoclast cells that reabsorb bone.
Nerves need food and exercise to be healthy. Specific supplements have been found beneficial for nerve repair. Most neuropathy sufferers can benefit from some general supplement recommendations: however, prescription of supplements based on the cause of neuropathy, and specifics of the individual patient’s lab tests can be much more beneficial. Supplements we recommend are used to help heal damaged nerves by:
- Providing antioxidants to protect cells from free radical damage
- Promote nerve and blood vessel repair
- Reduce inflammation
- Stabilize blood sugar levels
- Support biotransformation-clearance of waste products
- Increase cellular energy production
For neuropathy sufferers, lifestyle factors can play a very important role in recovery. Where diet is concerned, for example if blood sugar level is too high or too low, nerves malfunction and can die. Concerning exercise, you have probably heard the saying “if you don’t use it you lose it.” Nerves are no exception to this rule. The single greatest source of activation of our nervous system comes from receptors in our muscles, called muscle spindles. Every time a muscle is stretched, the muscle spindle fires a signal activating nerves. This activation is essential for nerve health and longevity. The take-away from this is the importance of reviewing a neuropathy patient’s habits and lifestyle for significant contributing factors. The appropriate recommendations, support, or referral can greatly influence the individual patient’s outcome.
As we just reviewed, every time a muscle is stretched, the muscle spindle fibers send a nerve impulse. If joints are restricted or fixated, muscle spindle fiber activity is reduced. Studies have shown that reduced input to our brain can cause deterioration of brain function. This can further compound the suffering, resulting in reduced sensation, numbness, or loss of dexterity, and strength in hands or feet. Joint mobilization and adjustments can restore lost mobility, improve muscle function, and increase the activation of nerves.
As peripheral neuropathy progresses, most patients will experience weakness in the muscles of the affected areas. This is a contributing factor to loss of balance and stability that can lead to falls, and for some neuropathy patients, it can result in serious injuries. Trigenics combines three procedures:
- Resisted exercise
- Nerve receptor activation
- Neurologic breathing technique to retrain the way the nervous system controls the muscles around a joint
Correcting imbalances in muscle length and strength can normalize joint motion, and restore stability. Often, the results are immediate. There is dramatic reduction in pain, and increased mobility.
“Fuel and activation” is the mantra in functional neurology. Fuel is glucose, and activation is exercise. Our comprehensive treatments are designed to fed and exercise the nerves. Studies have also shown that infrared light is beneficial for increasing circulation and improving nerve function. Infrared light therapy directly increases circulation to the nerves and other local tissues. This reduces inflammation, and increases delivery of nutrients, glucose, and oxygen. Typically, a boot is used to cover the foot, and pads cover the back of the leg. Hands and arms can be treated in a similar fashion.
Compression to nerves can be a cause of peripheral neuropathy. Many potential patients come to us with both distal symmetric polyneuropathy AND nerve compression. Clues to this combination of conditions are symptoms that start on one side only, or are noticeably more severe on one side than the other. More obvious clues are having a back or neck pain that accompanies symptoms of neuropathy in the hands or feet. Patients with nerve compression require decompression in addition to peripheral neuropathy treatment. When conservative measures have failed, the standard medical treatment for spinal nerve compression is decompressive surgery. Most medical experts agree that back surgery should be a last resort. According to Arnold Weil, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor of Rehabilitation medicine at Emory University school of medicine, “probably less than 5% of all back pain requires surgery.” Instead of surgically removing disc material causing pressure on the nerves, non-surgical decompression uses a sophisticated machine that gently stretches the spine, creating negative pressure inside the disc. This creates a vacuum that draws bulging disc material back into place. Non-surgical spinal decompression is another valuable treatment available in our FDA-cleared, drug and pain free treatment approach.
Unsteadiness, staggering when walking, a dizzy/lightheaded feeling, tripping, and falling are signs of balance problems. According to the Center for Disease Control and prevention, roughly MORE THAN ONE THIRD OF ADULTS AGE 65 YEARS AND OLDER FALL EACH YEAR. Unfortunately, the fear of losing their ability to live independently can prompt seniors to withhold information about impaired balance from family and physicians. Preserving independence in activities of daily living and mobility is a chief concern for our neuropathy patients. Balance therapies tailored to each patient are part of our comprehensive treatment plan for every peripheral neuropathy patient. Many of our patients say that the greatest benefit they received from treatment is regained confidence in their ability to walk, and the ability to return to a vibrant and active lifestyle.