Peripheral Neuropathy

by Martin Rutherford, D.C.

Most people who suffer from peripheral neuropathy don’t have any idea what their full spectrum of treatment options are. Most believe that (a) they have to take medications that give some relief and have side effects or just don’t work or (b) that there isn’t anything else they can do. To start let’s get a big myth out-of-the-way – “only diabetics or multiple sclerosis sufferers get neuropathy”. There is a myriad of different causes of peripheral neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with the nerves that carry information to and from the brain to the legs and feet. This produces pain, loss of feeling, and inability to control muscles. But already there’s a problem with this definition — just because you feel a symptom in your hands or feet doesn’t mean that’s where the problem is. This is a huge, gigantic misunderstanding and this is where diagnoses and treatment of most peripheral neuropathy goes wrong because peripheral neuropathy is in fact a complex web of neurological, hormonal, immune, and/or nutritional problems.

So with so many potential causes or combinations of causes of peripheral neuropathy it’s important that peripheral neuropathy sufferers explore them all as “one size diagnoses and treatment” does not fit them.

One of the potential causes of peripheral neuropathy is a “functional disconnection syndrome” affecting the parietal lobe of the brain. The right parietal lobe of the brain receives and processes all the signals that come from the nerves in your muscles and joints on both sides of your body. When the right parietal lobe is functioning properly you have normal sensation — no numbness, no tingling, no shooting pains. But if the parietal lobe starts to weaken or slow down then the signals don’t get processed correctly and you feel numbness, tingling and pain in both of your feet, and then months or years later in your hands. This is what happens when the functional disconnection syndrome occurs in the brain. Functional disconnection syndrome is an electrical imbalance in the frequency of firing between the two sides of the brain. The two parietal lobes should fire equally. When one starts to fire less frequently than the other (due to traumas, emotional stresses, inflammatory or toxic triggers) then neurons in the parietal lobe lose their firing “timing” and we get all sorts of symptoms like numbness, tingling, weakness, pins and needles, and pain — the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

Another major trigger of this condition is an auto-immune response against peripheral nerve tissue. Basically what happens is your immune system attacks and destroys nerve tissue. It can even attack brain tissue itself. These attacks can be triggered by food sensitivities, viruses, infections, high amounts of insulin (diabetics) and high amounts of inflammation. The immune system mistakenly destroys nerve tissue and causes all of the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy whether attacking brain or peripheral nerve tissue.

So to properly assess and treat peripheral neuropathy each system of the body must be reviewed and evaluated. Triggers must be eliminated and problems and imbalances in the hormonal, G.I. and immune systems must be corrected, also the various imbalances unique to the individual need to be addressed with a coordinated, non-drug approach all at the same time. If this is not done the sufferer often will spend months and years going from practitioner to practitioner evaluating the various above-mentioned “pieces of the puzzle” one at a time. Although the patient may occasionally “luck out” by accidentally addressing the correct cause this disorganized approach to a problem as complex as peripheral neuropathy is usually doomed to fail and is the reason why medications and surgery yield poor long-term results when utilized as treatment options for the peripheral neuropathy patient.

If you would like to have more information or to set up a free consultation to see how we may be able to help you (or someone you know), give us a call at 775-329-4402 or you can schedule an appointment online by clicking here.