What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral Neuropathy refers to conditions that affect your nerves primarily in the feet and legs, and occasionally in the hands, fingers or arms. There are many types of Peripheral Neuropathy and many causes. Neuropathies that primarily cause discomfort in the feet and lower leg are perhaps the most common type.
The Peripheral Nervous System is an extension of your Central Nervous System (brain and spinal cord), a system of nerves that branch beyond the spinal cord and serve the outer aspects of your body, such as your legs and feet. Picture the peripheral nerves as small feeder streams in the skin that eventually form into a large river (your spinal cord) and then into a big lake (your brain). Ultimately, pain is sensed as the nerves on the outside of the body (small feeder streams) send the signals through the spinal cord to the brain.
The Peripheral Nervous System includes the Somatic Nervous System and the Autonomic Nervous System. The somatic nervous system includes the nerves serving the musculoskeletal system and the skin. It reacts to outside stimuli affecting the body such as in touch, cuts, heat and cold sensations. The autonomic nervous system automatically seeks to maintain normal function of everything that is supposed to run on “auto-pilot.”
To make matters worse, when nutrient and oxygen restriction damages the myelin coating, proper skin perspiration is prevented. This often leads to more challenges such as swelling, as well as hot or cold feelings in the feet or legs. As you can see, once this snowball starts rolling, it’s often like a line-up of falling dominoes leading to more and greater problems.
The next category are the mechanical (aka compressive) forms of neuropathy. These causes are also very common, and most often result from mechanical joint problems that compress the nerves as they emit from the spine (or are compressed inside other joints) before they reach their final destinations. We’ve all heard of the very common and painful condition known as Sciatica. Sciatica is a form of neuropathy which causes pain and/or numbness in the back or leg(s); a condition that is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve as it emits from the lower spine, usually due to disc bulges, disc herniations, mechanical misalignment of the vertebra, or because of disc degeneration; also known as spinal arthritis (another mechanical joint problem of the spine). The nerve transmissions become disrupted, much like what happens to water flowing through a hose if you put a kink in it – the normal flow of the water ceases. In the nerve, this disruption results in numbness, pain or both.
Adding to the metabolic and chemical causes, a large percentage of people who have undergone chemotherapy also develop peripheral neuropathy, as many of the chemicals aimed at killing cancer cells also damage peripheral nerves cells. Also in the chemical category are also things such as liver and kidney disorders, as well as individuals unknowingly causing or contributing to their neuropathy by taking some very common prescription drugs.
Nerve Release Therapy: utilizing gentle manipulation, traction and manual therapy, our chiropractors will gradually reduce the pressure on your nerves to allow them to heal and begin functioning normally. Ankle Nerve Blocks: our medical doctors will identify those specific nerves that are malfunctioning by either over-firing or under-firing (or both). Then, utilizing a series of ankle injections, these nerves will be gradually de-sensitized. This allows the connections at the nerve endings to be re-set, much like what occurs when you reboot your computer when it no longer runs the way it’s supposed to.
Electrotherapy: following each nerve block session, a special form of electrotherapy will be administered to stimulate further nerve healing by gently pulsating the affected nerves. This is usually continued at home with daily 30-minute sessions.