Holistic Clinic in SE Portland | 503.445.9771 fb twit googleplus

Blog

Understanding Neuropathy & Natural Treatments that Work

October 18, 2017

 

 

Do you experience tingling, numbness, sensations of hot or cold, or weakness- particularly in your hands and feet? If so, you might be one of millions of people who suffer from neuropathy and neuropathic pain. In today’s blog post, we’ll discuss the causes of neuropathy, how it can affect your overall health, and take a closer look at a few of the most effective treatments for neuropathy, including Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.

 

What is Neuropathy?

When we talk about the five senses: taste, sight, hearing, smell, and touch, what we’re really referring to is how your brain interprets signals from different areas of your body. Unfortunately, the nerve cells which send these signals can become damaged.

 

The result is a condition known as neuropathy.

Symptoms of Neuropathy

 

Neuropathic pain may feel like an “electric” tingling sensation

 

Neuropathy is most commonly associated with symptoms like:

  • Sharp or stabbing pain
  • Throbbing or aching pain
  • Tingling or a feeling of pins-and-needles
  • Burning or freezing sensations
  • Poor coordination or balance
  • Weakness and numbness

Parts of the Body Affected by Neuropathy

The most common form of neuropathy is known as peripheral neuropathy. It affects the hands, feet, and lower legs. However, neuropathy can affect any part of the body, even internal organs.

Causes of Neuropathy

The most common cause of neuropathy, particularly peripheral neuropathy is diabetes mellitus, known as Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. High blood sugar in the body injures nerve endings.

 

People with diabetes can reduce their chances of diabetic neuropathy by:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Keeping their blood pressure under control
  • Using oral medications and/or insulin to keep their blood sugar under control

 

Many other conditions besides diabetes can contribute to neuropathy. Other chronic diseases and conditions contributing to neuropathic pain include:

  • Kidney disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Sciatica
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Lupus
  • Arthritis
  • Chickenpox and shingles

 

Some medications may also cause neuropathy, including those used to treat:

  • Epilepsy and seizures
  • Certain cancers
  • Antibiotics

 

Serious accidents and traumatic injuries, like auto accidents and on-the job-injuries can cause acute damage to nerve cells leading to chronic neuropathic pain in the affected area.

 

Finally, chronic alcoholism is known to increase the likelihood of neuropathy, especially when combined with one of the other conditions listed above.

 

Diagnosing Neuropathy

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of neuropathy or are in a high-risk group, talk with your physician. Neuropathy can often be diagnosed with a physical examination. The sooner neuropathy is recognized, the sooner treatment can begin.

 

The Effects of Neuropathy on Your Health

The pain of neuropathy can be debilitating, preventing a person from walking or exercising without pain. Even worse, unlike other pains, neuropathic pain often doesn’t respond well to traditional pain medications. While neuropathy on its own is usually not fatal it can seriously affect your quality of life.

 

Beyond the pain of neuropathy, there can be serious and even deadly side effects. When nerve cells become damaged, they aren’t able to register pain, like a cut or blister on a person’s toe. Because conditions like diabetes also carry risks of decreased blood flow to the extremities, even small cuts heal slowly (or not at all). This combination can lead to serious infections which may require amputation.

 

Treating & Preventing Neuropathy

If you have diabetes or are otherwise at risk for neuropathy, there are many steps you can take to protect your health:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy, varied diet full of foods high in antioxidants
  • Abstain from alcohol
  • Managing your physical health i.e. avoiding injuries and accidents

Drawbacks of Traditional Neuropathy Treatments

Unfortunately, in the traditional healthcare system, many doctors simply treat the symptoms of neuropathy rather than looking for the underlying root causes. Topical creams and prescription medications may temporarily mask the pain of neuropathy but do not address the root cause.

Acupuncture Treatments

 

A diagram of acupuncture points & meridians on the human body

 

Recently, the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) reviewed nearly 50 studies and concluded: acupuncture is effective in the treatment of neuropathy!

 

Acupuncture treatments are not only effective in releasing pain-relieving endorphins but can also increase circulation and stimulate the nervous system. The results can be incredible!

Massage Therapy

 

Massage therapy can increase blood flow to the extremities and help reduce neuropathic pain. Research has shown that massage therapy can be very effective especially in cases of neuropathic pain brought on by chemotherapy cancer treatments.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)

Fortius 420 - One of the most powerful HBOT chambers available, patients with neuropathy can find relief at Urban Wellness Group in SE Portland

 

One of the most effective treatments for treating (and even reversing) neuropathy is the use of hyperbaric oxygen chambers. Research shows that by increasing the amount of oxygen that can be absorbed, the body can heal itself more effectively.

 

The air we normally breathe is about 20% oxygen. During HBOT, you can breathe up to 100% pure oxygen, increasing the amount of healing oxygen in the blood by up to 2000%! Dissolved oxygen can then penetrate deeply into the body, helping nerves and small blood vessels grow and heal.

 

At our office in Urban Wellness Group, we have seen the powerful effects of HBOT therapy on our patients. Using an FDA-approved steel chamber capable of treating at pressures from 1.3-3.0 ATA, our patients see incredible improvements in their wellness and a drastic reduction in pain and neuropathic complications.

 

Managing & Treating Your Neuropathy

 

If you’re worried about the effects of neuropathic pain on your life or have had trouble managing the symptoms of your neuropathy, contact the physicians at Urban Wellness Group today. Schedule an appointment to learn about how neuropathy, acupuncture, and other treatments can help you feel your very best.



Return to Blog Main Page