Can You Get Neuropathy Without Diabetes?

Dr. Gates: So today’s question is, “Can you get neuropathy without having diabetes?” And the glaring answer is, yes. We don’t mean that negatively but the fact of the matters is, is that about 50% of peripheral neuropathy patients in our country have diabetes and the other 50% do not. But for you that belong in the other 50%, frequently there are upwards of 80 different causes that can cause your problem.

And, well, without being too controversial, perhaps the insurance system, the third-party payer system, in our country is forcing doctors to really not test the idiopathic peripheral neuropathy patients for what the cause of their problem is. In our experience you have to delineate that cause. And we’re not the only one saying that. The world’s foremost researcher in peripheral neuropathy says the same thing. And I’m going to kick this over to Dr. Rutherford so he can kind of take you through what patients coming in with “idiopathic peripheral neuropathy” have been through, what they’ve been told, and then also your responses to them.

Dr. Rutherford: Yeah, it’s really kind of stunning. It is a question that kind of sometimes brings me back to the reality of the fact that most people are told half of peripheral neuropathy is diabetic and the other half we don’t know what it is, top researcher in the world, he’s from Mayo Clinic, right?

Dr. Gates: Yeah.

Dr. Rutherford: Says that’s false. We would say, even more than him, he says it can be found out what percentage it is…

Dr. Gates: Seventy six percent of the time…

Dr. Rutherford: We would say it can be found out…

Dr Gates: …the 50% of the pie that has idiopathic peripheral neuropathy.

Dr. Rutherford: I would probably say we could find out 100% of the time, or close to it, if you do the diagnosis. Look, there’s a neurology series that’s put up by the medical profession every couple years, every four years, something like that. And it’s medical research, it’s a beautiful book. Ours is tremendously beaten up. And in that book it says there’s 80 different causes of peripheral neuropathy.

There are. And you know how would you know that? You would know that by reading that book, for starters. I don’t know why people are not reading that and I can conjecture. Certainly the insurance industry has a… Look, I’m not a right or left wing, not, okay? There’s just the way it is.

There are 80 different causes according to the medical profession and the insurance companies are saying, “You can look for diabetes. You can look for B12 deficiencies. You can look for thyroid. You can look for…”

Dr. Gates: That’s about it.

Dr. RUtherford: “… tarsal tunnel”, which is a pseudo-neuropathy, which is a pinched nerve in your ankle. “You can look for stenosis”, which is a pseudo-neuropathy.

Dr. Gates: Which they’re trying to limit, actually. They’re trying to limit doctors from doing their [inaudible 00:02:33].

Dr. Rutherford: Okay, so basically telling your doctor that they can look for three, so why would your doctor spend 200 hours figuring out both, studying all these other ones? They just basically say you have idiopathic or cryptogenic.

And the causes are tremendous that means there’s autoimmune causes, there’s food sensitivity causes, there’s stress hormone causes, there’s gut-related causes, there’s pre-diabetic causes. Your question was, “Are there other causes other than diabetes?” Well, frankly, pre-diabetes, if you have burning out there, okay? If you have burning and your doctor is saying, “Well you don’t have diabetes so it can’t be that.” I got news for you, that’s called pre-diabetes, or metabolic syndrome or syndrome X, or insulin resistance. All of those things and more are peripheral neuropathy.

So not only is diabetes not the only thing that causes peripheral neuropathy, but as Dr. Gates said, it requires…If you are evaluated by someone who is serious about what they’re doing, a proper history and understanding the nuances of all those different causes, and then a comprehensive exam put together frequently will give you the answer probably within one, or two, or three differential diagnoses. In other words, you’ll be able to know within one, or two, or three diagnoses of which of those 80 things is causing it. And then you can now directly test and say, “Here’s what it is.” And now you can go about addressing it.

Dr. Gates: Exactly. You covered it perfectly.

Dr. Rutherford: So that’s what I tell people.

Dr. Gates: We’re writing a neuropathy book. We’re almost done and we have a whole chapter just dedicated to history because it is so important to really delineate, as Dr. Rutherford was saying, what the cause of the neuropathy is. We get most excited about idiopathic peripheral neuropathy cases. Yes, diabetic peripheral neuropathy cases are great, but we get really excited because we like identifying the cause of people’s problems when no one has really been able to figure it out. And especially for the neuropathy patients they frequently feel kind of dejected. They feel like they’re out of answers. And we recommend that none of you feel this way. You need a tenacious team of doctors to really figure out what your problems is and you can work with them on that.

And just plead with your doctors, say, “Hey, I really wanna figure this out. Can we run further testing?” And if you can’t find a doctor who will do that then maybe you need to find a different neurologist or chiropractic neurologist to do that.

So I think we’ve pretty much covered this topic. This is Dr. Martin Rutherford, Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner, also a chiropractor. I’m Dr. Randall Gates, Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist, also a chiropractor.

If you have more questions on this, go to, search for “peripheral neuropathy.” We have lots of videos up there today. In fact, today we’re going to be discussing idiopathic peripheral neuropathy as it relates to pre-diabetes and glucose tolerance tests. We recommend you watch that. So thanks for watching, and we’ll see you later.

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    • Robert Delgadillo
    • February 10, 2017

    Is any of your work covered by Medicare?

    1. Unfortunately no. They consider what we do to be elective similar to LASIK or plastic surgery.

        • Chris
        • October 10, 2018

        I’m pretty sure that I got mine from Ciprofloxacin. That stuff is horrible, and after two different rounds, my toes began to burn before spreading to the rest of my feet. I know it was cipro because 8 years later, I also have trouble with tendons and ligaments in my ankles, elbows, knees, etc… I started a whole food plant-based diet 6 weeks ago, and I think I’m beginning to sense some improvement

    • Donna Allgaier-Lamberti
    • December 29, 2016

    My husband (age 71) has had PN in his feet for about 8 years-NO diabetes. First his toes tingled, then they started to numb and the numbing moved from his toes to his (two) entire feet. It seemed no one (then Western Medicine) could help him. Recently our (new to us) Functional Medicine Physician here in SW Michigan tested his blood sugar (at my insistance because he has 8 members of his Italian family with diabetes) and found he has insullin resistance. So of course now I am wondering if the PN was a precurser to the insulin reisttance or IF had insulin resistance all along? He finally got scared and got serious about his diet. We are now treating his Insulin resistance through a high quality insulin resistance diet (meat/vegetables an much like my own AIP autoimmune protocal diet) and his A1C numbers have dropped significantly. I look forward to buying/reading your book. I want to know more….I am hoping he might get some of the feeling in his feet back. IF only you were closer to us in Michigan!!

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