Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment: The Best Non-Invasive Option For You

by Will Bozeman

For nearly 2.5% of the world’s population, receiving a diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy means facing the prospect of relying on medications or resorting to surgery to manage their nerve pain. 

Given the degenerative nature of this disease, it has never been more important for patients to look beyond traditional treatments and find a solution that does not involve invasive medical procedures. 

Fortunately, today’s advances in regenerative medicine offer a valid, non-invasive, and non-pharmaceutical alternative worth exploring. Here, we’ll explore how Neuragenex’s programs (Neuralgesia and Neurofunctional Pain Management) can help.

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves in the Peripheral Nervous System, which are the nerves located outside of the brain and spinal cord. These nerves are in charge of delivering signals to the brain relating to muscle movements (motor nerves), touch and temperature sensations (sensory nerves), and autonomic processes, such as breathing, digestion, and blood circulation. 

These nerves can become damaged for several reasons, including diabetes, exposure to toxins, or infection. When this happens, motor, sensory, and autonomic signals traveling to and from the brain are inhibited. 

This may lead to experiencing acute pain (even in response to stimuli that should be painless), numbness, loss of balance, or muscle spasms. In severe cases, peripheral neuropathy can also lead to ulcers and, if it is affecting autonomic nerves, may also impair functions such as heartbeat and sweating. 

Understanding the causes and symptoms of neuropathy when the first signs begin to manifest themselves can help you contain nerve damage and avoid the most severe consequences. Above all, understanding your nerve pain can help you find the right treatment option for your needs.

Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms

Depending on what nerves are affected by neuropathy, you might experience a range of symptoms. Learning to recognize these telltale signs as they begin to appear is the first step to understanding and managing your condition.

Let’s look at the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in more detail below. 

  • Pain in the extremities (hands and feet) – One of the most common symptoms of neuropathy is pain that begins in the extremities, which can be described as prickling pain or “pins and needles” sensations. This pain – which is called paresthesia – appears when the normal signaling of pain, touch, and vibration is disrupted. 
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch – Damaged nerves can misfire and send abnormal signals to the brain’s sensory cortex, causing extreme sensitivity to touch (hyperesthesia) and pain in response to stimuli that should normally be painless (allodynia). 
  • Cramps and spasms – Uncontrolled muscle movements are caused by damaged motor nerves, which send improper motor signals to the brain.
  • Burning sensations – Burning pain is due to damaged nerve endings in the skin, which become overactive and misfire signals of pain to the brain. 
  • Loss of feeling – When nerves become damaged, they might become unable to transmit signals relating to pain, touch, temperature, and vibration to the brain, thus leading to numbness, loss of feeling, and reduced ability to feel pain (hypoalgesia)
  • Trouble sleeping – Around 68% of patients with neuropathy experience strongly disturbed sleep. This is due to muscle spasms that can wake you up at night and hyperesthesia, which leads to extreme sensitivity to touch, abnormal sensations, and difficulty falling asleep. 
  • Loss of balance – When motor and sensory nerves are affected, your brain might no longer be able to receive signals about your body’s position in space, balance, and coordination. This might cause you to bump into objects, struggle to get up from a low seated position, and be at greater risk of falls and injuries.

Causes Of Peripheral Neuropathy

Nerve damage can arise from a range of causes and risk factors, including the following:

  • Diabetes – Diabetes and poorly managed blood sugar can lead to nerve damage. Erratic blood glucose levels can impair the blood vessels and prevent them from delivering essential blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the nerves, thus leading to the death of nerve fibers. Currently, neuropathy is a complication in 51% of people with diabetes
  • Autoimmune diseases – Some forms of neuropathy, such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, are hereditary. Additionally, some autoimmune diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis can cause nerve damage due to the sustained levels of inflammation produced by the body. 
  • Infections – In the case of infections caused by bacteria or viruses, nerve damage is derived from sustained high levels of inflammation caused by the body’s response to infections. Excessive inflammation can degrade the myelin (the nerves’ protective coating), thus preventing them from correctly transmitting signals. In people with HIV, neuropathy is a comorbidity in over 50% of cases
  • Physical injury or trauma – Direct trauma is one of the main causes of mononeuropathy (damage to a single nerve). Injuries such as fractures and dislocations can sever the nerve’s connection to the brain and lead to neuropathic pain and numbness. 
  • Exposure to toxins, alcohol, and nicotine – Some toxins, such as lead and arsenic, have neurotoxic effects, meaning that they may cause the degeneration of nerve fibers. This is also true for toxins found in food, such as mercury in swordfish. Using alcohol and nicotine over long periods can damage the myelin that coats and protects the nerves, thus leading to neuropathy. It is estimated that 25-66% of those with an alcohol abuse disorder have alcoholic neuropathy. 
  • Nutrient deficiencies – Some nutritional deficiencies (such as copper and B12) can cause nerve demyelination (damage to the nerve’s protective sheath) and lead to neuropathy. This might also happen in the case of conditions that prevent nutrients from being absorbed properly by the body, such as Celiac disease.
  • Blood or vascular problems – Conditions that damage the blood vessels supplying blood, oxygen, and nutrients to nerves (i.e.: vasculitis) can cause the death of nerve fibers and increase the risk of neuropathy. 
  • Tumors and chemotherapy – Some tumors can grow near a nerve and press on it, which can cause nerve irritation and damage. What’s more, some medications, such as the drugs used in chemotherapy, can have a neurotoxic effect and cause the death of nerve fibers. It is estimated that up to 85% of people undergoing cancer treatment will develop temporary neuropathy. 

Although the items above are some of the most common causes of neuropathy, it is important to keep in mind that up to a third of people with nerve pain have idiopathic neuropathy, meaning that the root cause of their disease is unknown.

How Diagnosis Works

Nerve pain is considered to be an “invisible illness” because its symptoms are not immediately visible to others. This makes neuropathy challenging to diagnose and treat. 

Nonetheless, by partnering with a specialized healthcare provider, you’ll be able to obtain an accurate diagnosis of your condition and its underlying causes. Beyond performing a thorough physical exam and reviewing your medical history, a specialist will conduct several tests to determine the causes and extent of your nerve damage. 

These tests include:

  • Blood tests – Blood tests are used to determine whether the nerve damage is caused by high levels of toxins (like mercury and lead) or by nutritional deficiencies, such as low levels of Vitamin B12. Blood tests can also highlight genetic, hereditary, and autoimmune disorders that contribute to neuropathy. 
  • Skinnerve biopsies – This type of test involves removing a sample of the skin containing nerve fibers for examination. These tests aim to highlight abnormalities in nerve endings as well as determine the nerve count on your extremities. 
  • Neurological exams – Neurological examinations look at the physical signs of neuropathy, such as changes in your ability to feel pain and move muscles, tendons, and ligaments. 
  • Electrodiagnostic tests – These include a nerve conduction test (NCS) and electromyograms (EMG) to determine how well your nerves work. Some of the indicators monitored through these tests include the speed and strength of nerve signals. 
  • Quantitative Sensory Testing (QST) – If you have been diagnosed with neuropathy, this type of test can help assess the extent of the damage and determine how well nerves respond to sensory stimuli. 
  • Imaging tests – These examinations are used to diagnose neuropathy through a series of images collected via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), nerve ultrasounds, and computerized tomography (CT) scans. These can help determine if the nerve damage is due to a tumor, a compressed nerve, or other structural abnormalities.

Importance Of Getting An Accurate Diagnosis

Peripheral neuropathy can cause chronic and severe pain and lead to threatening consequences such as ulcers, gangrene, amputations, loss of bladder/bowel control, or irregular heartbeat. 

So, while it might seem easy to resort to painkillers and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to manage your condition, these cannot be considered a sustainable long-term pain management strategy. In the best-case scenario, these medications can ease discomfort in the short term. In the worst-case scenario, they can conceal a significant, more dangerous underlying cause of nerve damage. 

That’s why obtaining an accurate diagnosis is essential. Once you have determined what is causing your nerve pain, you’ll be able to choose a pain management strategy that addresses the root cause of your condition. For example, if nerve pain is caused by poorly controlled blood sugar, diabetes management strategies and lifestyle adjustments should be your first port of call. 

Understanding your condition and what’s causing it also means educating yourself about the best treatment options for your needs and goals. Let’s compare the different alternatives to manage nerve pain below.

Comparing The Success Of Surgical And Nonsurgical Treatments

Surgical treatment options for patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy have been known to have lasting effects. However, the success of these surgeries may negate any associated side effects or patient invasiveness. Nor does the success of these surgeries guarantee the negation of peripheral neuropathy symptom recurrence down the road.

  • Surgical Offloading

One of the most common surgical treatment options available to patients is what’s known as a surgical offloading procedure. 

As patients experience the imbalance and eventual muscular deformity that evolves from long-term peripheral neuropathy, ulcers are a common development. Ulcers ultimately develop because of the pressure that has been placed on the associated limb. 

The complications prevalent in the feet of diabetic patients attribute to the pressure of standing and walking. If patients were to continue to allow these ulcers to develop without treatment, they would find both walking and standing unbearable.

  • Shoes, Orthotics, And Contact Cast

According to a study done in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, Aharon S. Finestone and colleagues concluded that “[t]he mainstay of treating and preventing ulcers is offloading. This may be done with shoes, orthotics and contact casts” (2018). 

Finestone uses examples of these nonsurgical treatments and states that they offload or relieve the pressure and pain from patients who may develop or have developed ulcers. 

While creating casts and specialized shoes may relieve the pain and reduce the likelihood of further ulcer development, they are not a full-proof solution to the problem. Patients may have to seek adjustment to the shoes created for them if the pain is recurrent and purchasing these shoes can be costly. 

  • Why Treatment Compliance Is Critical

Finestone addresses the concerns associated with these nonsurgical treatments, concluding that “. . . while these are frequently effective in the short run, in the long run, ulcers often recur for a variety of reasons, including patients’ lack of compliance”. 

While Finestone attributes recurring conditions and ulcers to patients’ lack of compliance or responsibility, many patients who are complying with their doctor’s recommendations may feel frustrated at this answer. 

This is especially true for patients who are seeking non-invasive solutions to their pain that will also produce long-lasting treatment for the conditions of peripheral neuropathy. Still, for some patients, the short-term solutions mentioned by Finestone may seem more like a bandaid to a wound that needs stitches.

Surgery Doesn’t Have To Be The Only Option

Finestone justifies surgical treatment while conceding that it is not an easy undertaking and should be carefully considered and explained to patients. You should know what your body is experiencing and what the first step is in seeking effective and long-lasting treatment. 

When it comes to offloading or relieving the pain induced by ulcers, Finestone states that a “. . . more definitive method of offloading includes surgical correction of foot deformities.While any surgery in these patients is a considerable undertaking, the natural history of recurrent or recalcitrant ulcers is so dismal that a more aggressive and surgical approach may be justified”. 

Patients who suffer from the long-term effects of peripheral neuropathy, such as recalcitrant or recurring ulcers, may find justification in seeking surgical treatment. This is a choice that must be carefully considered by patients and thoroughly explained by their doctors as patients who are reluctant in undergoing surgery are not alone. 

In a study conducted by Mitchell Mark, PhD, it was concluded that “[m]edical advances have led to a considerable rise in the level of elective surgery undertaken as day-case surgery and with a minimal hospital stay. However, amid such advances, preoperative psychological care has remained relatively static” (2003).

Preoperative Anxiety Of Patients Escalate With Surgery Looming

Patients in 2003 experienced little to no alleviation of their preoperative anxiety and desired to have their concerns addressed. 

Doctors performing the surgery of offloading are required to explain the procedure to the patients before they elect to undergo the surgery. But knowing the procedure and the potential side-effects may further the anxiety of patients, especially for those who have not undergone surgery in the past.

Patients who choose to undergo elective surgery not only recognize and agonize over the risks associated with the surgery but also experience skepticism and will need to weigh the risks against the rewards.

With the number of diabetic patients increasing worldwide, elective surgery related to peripheral neuropathy has risen in the past 20 years. This lack of psychological care to alleviate anxiety contributes to patient apprehension. 

Mark continues to address the need for psychological care by stating that, “[t]hirty-four studies embracing data from 3754 patients undergoing both inpatient and day-case procedures were reviewed. Three main themes emerged–causes of anxiety, clinical concerns and measurement, and anxiety management”. 

It is not unnatural for most patients to experience this apprehension and frustration, especially if they have been reviewing and following the nonsurgical recommendations of their doctors.

Neuralgesia: Your Best Non Surgical Treatment For Peripheral Neuropathy

Neuragenex uses a proprietary Neuralgesia treatment protocol to administer pain relief and health restoration in patients with chronic peripheral neuropathy and chronic pain. Neuralgesia treatment protocols may effectively ease patient numbness, burning, cramping, and many other conditions because of peripheral neuropathy. 

Neuralgesia, a non-invasive therapeutic treatment program that uses a combination of high-pulse electrical stimulation and specialized hydration therapy to relieve pain and restore health and ultimately avoid or put off surgeries, invasive procedures, and endless medications.

Patients report being able to return to the workforce, performing daily activities they used to enjoy, and overall enjoying the benefits of living a life without chronic pain in their extremities. 

Sometimes, patients report pain relief and improved quality of life after just one treatment. Neuralgesia is the next generation of chronic pain management, and Neuragenex is bringing this protocol to thousands of patients across the nation.

Our mission is to relieve pain, restore health, and magnify the quality of life without medications, surgeries, or invasive procedures. We believe that Neuragenex will be the first thought, first choice, and first step in the journey of chronic pain management.

Treat Peripheral Neuropathy Safely And Effectively

If you have received a diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, the chances are that you are now facing the prospect of living a life reliant on medications. And, in severe cases, you might start to believe that surgery is the only option left.

But that’s where learning more about alternative treatments can help you find a treatment that is best suited to your needs. The Innovative regenerative medicine treatments offered at Neuragenex provide a non-surgical and non-pharmaceutical option that can help you ease pain and magnify your life.

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