What is Neuropathy? Neuropathy means damage, disease, or dysfunction of one or more nerves. Signs may include numbness, tingling, prickling, burning sensations, shooting pain, muscle weakness or atrophy, in the affected area. Neuropathies frequently start in your hands and feet, but other parts of your body can be affected too.
How does it happen? Neuropathy is usually caused by injury, trauma, infection, disease like diabetes, drugs, toxins (arsenical), or vitamin deficiency. Everything from diabetes and HIV to chemo can cause it. Sometimes the etiology is unknown, but unresolved inflammation is associated with neuropathy. Unresolved inflammation goes beyond the minor, short-term inflammation caused by injuries or health conditions. It’s inflammation that sticks around for the long-term, and even though it’s low-grade inflammation, it’s not the sort of highly visible inflammation caused by acute injuries or problems. Unresolved inflammation becomes neuropathy and that causes numerous functional and sensory disturbances in the peripheral nervous system.
Encephalopathy and myelopathy are corresponding terms relating to involvement of the brain and spinal cord.
If you think it sounds serious, you’re absolutely right!
Unresolved inflammation is a risk factor for neuropathy especially in the elderly. A term called ‘inflammaging’ is being used for age related impaired internal functions like dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, and arthritis.
Why is this inflammation happening in the first place? Your body has natural inflammatory processes that activate when you sustain injury or damage. For example, a wound to your skin, sprained ankle, internal organ damage, or infection in your gut can all cause inflammation. Your body triggers inflammation to defend itself from further damage. By swelling up a joint and limb, it can “immobilize” (or reduce mobility in) the damaged area—which is why your ankle, knee, or lower back will swell after you sprain it.
This natural defense mechanism tells your body that there is some internal component (muscle, bone, vessels, joint, organ, etc.) in need of repair. In acute injuries or conditions, the swelling is usually resolved quickly when the body repairs and restores whatever was damaged. The combination of tissue damage and unresolved inflammation causes an alteration in the molecular biochemistry of the affected part which alters the nerve functioning. Enter neuropathy!
The problem with neuropathy is that it has turned into a chronic condition. The specific “damage” that you know about or don’t know about, needs to be repaired but has not. Symptoms may be localized to one area and/or an entire limb. The interconnected vessels (blood, lymph, nerves, etc.) that become damaged, cause you to feel numbness or tingling in the hand or foot. For example, with diabetic neuropathy and arthritis, your body sends inflammatory signals to all the tissue throughout your body, and the feet being so far away from the heart that by the time the blood gets to the feet it is practically out of oxygen and the small vessels and nerves become damaged. You see this as visibly swelling and a feeling of numbness and stiffness.
When widespread (systemic) low grade inflammation happens, it can interfere with your body’s internal mechanisms (as it’s designed to do). While inflammation is good in the short-term to speed up healing from acute damage, if it stays around in the long-term, as in unresolved inflammation, chronic conditions develop like neuropathy. Chronic fatigue syndrome is often associated with neuropathy because vessel damage leads to poor oxygenation to cells which impedes energy production, and you feel tired. If this occurs in the brain, the dysfunction may feel like brain fog or dementia.
Neuropathy contributes to accelerated biological aging! The less of your body that moves, even if it’s one hand or one foot (most people with neuropathy don’t move around as much) the stiffer and more aged you feel. Even the brain and organs function at less-than-optimal conditions because everything is under low-grade assault by inflammation.
Unresolved inflammation and neuropathy can get worse the older you are (inflammaging). Our bodies grow less efficient as we age especially at vessel repair (think about ‘bruised spots’) and resolving inflammation damage. As a result, we experience more rapid deterioration as one body part and function after another begins to work less effectively because of unresolved inflammation. My treatment goal is to remove interference caused by inflammation in the first place and restore as much function (range of motion, strength) as possible.
If you have neuropathy, your health is at serious risk.
What can you do about it? Starting one or two of these TODAY.
Dr. Jeffrey Tucker's Top Tips for Neuropathy You Can Do At-Home
1. Exercise is an absolute neuropathy and inflammaging game-changer! Exercise promotes blood flow and oxygen to the tissues. Walking is still the mother of all exercise and one of the best natural anti-inflammatory remedies on the planet. Just start walking even if it is marching in place for two minutes at a time several times a day.
2. Better balance and footing. Gain better posture and feel more stable on one foot at a time. Practice standing on one leg with eyes open and eyes closed – you must be barefoot! Try to build up to 30 seconds on each leg.
3. Keep the affected limb or body part moving. This helps improve vessel health, blood flow, and improves oxygen to the tissues.
4. Laser light therapy is meant to be used at home daily to improve neuropathy.
5. Non-drug safe supplements for feeling more energy that improve your mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are the power houses and cellular energy producers. To feel more energized and help you take on new challenges like a casual walk or a hike I recommend MitoCore. Take 4 pills daily.
6. Topical serum pain management is part of the package to reduce neuropathy, stiffness, and chronic pain. I recommend PhytoZol serum to be rubbed into the affected area 3 times daily.
Dr. Jeffrey Tucker's Top Safe and Effective In-Office Neuropathy Therapies
If interested in any of the following treatments for Neuropathy, contact Dr. Jeffrey Tucker's office at (310) 444 - 9393 to schedule your appointment today!
Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy (PEMF) uses healthy electromagnetic frequencies to enhance overall health and wellness and has been shown to have positive benefits on pain and inflammation in neuropathy and chronic complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). PEMF therapy is thought to influence micro circulation and blood flow.
Laser therapy has demonstrated analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects on neuropathy and CRPS. We have 4 different powerful types of lasers in the office, but I have one laser that I recommend for at home use (EPOCH Helio Laser).
Shockwave therapy contributes to tackling pain head on. It stimulates breaking up scar tissue and creating more blood flow to deep areas within the body. I have tremendous experience with shockwave therapy, and I continue to see lasting comfort in my patients from these treatments. It is especially useful for pelvic floor dysfunction issues and tendon related neuropathy.
Winback TECAR therapy is a deep heat sensation that increases blood flow, contributes to reduced pain and improved function. If you have not tried this modality for neuropathy, I highly recommend it. Winback TECAR Therapy treatments plus teaching simple stretches to improve range of motion and reduces your risk of getting worse.
VibraGenix whole body vibration with resonance frequency (I am in process of vetting an at home whole body vibration plate...more to come)