What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral Neuropathy (PN) is damage to the nerve tissue anywhere in the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). The PNS is the communication network responsible for carrying movement signals to the spine and brain. It is estimated that over 175 million people suffer from PN which is 8% of the global population. If you experience PN from diabetes, autoimmune conditions, chemotherapy, sports injury, surgery or a car wreck, LifeWorks has the solutions you need.
Symptoms of PN
Symptoms depend on the area of the body in which nerves are damaged. PNS has connections in every area of the body but can be broken up into three main nerve areas for better understanding of how PN can affect you.
Motor Nerve Symptoms
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle cramping
- Muscle twitching
- Muscle shrinking
Sensory Nerve Symptoms
- Loss of feeling from touch or vibrations
- Difficulty with spatial movement such as walking with eyes closed, buttons, etc
- Abnormal pain sensations such as heightened pain intensity with very light touch
Autonomic Nerve Symptoms
- Excessive or inadequate sweating
- Blood pressure regulation issues
- Bladder control
- Sexual organ dysfunction
10 Causes of PN
1. Physical Trauma
This is damage from a car wreck, surgery, falls, sports, broken bones, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc.
This is the primary cause of PN with 60-70% of people with diabetes having some level of PN, even if mild. The damage produced symptoms such as tingling, pain, numbness, burning sensations, and even weakness in trunk and pelvic area. Uncontrolled blood sugars are the direct cause of PN in diabetes.
3. Vascular Damage
This is the primary cause of PN in smokers and those with cardiovascular disease (narrowing of the arteries). Smoking especially damages the PNS tissues by decreasing oxygenation to nerve tissue. When any type of tissue in the body does not have adequate oxygen, damage occurs.
4. Autoimmune Disease
Certain autoimmune conditions cause the immune system to attack nerve tissue causing PNS pain. The primary conditions associated with this are Lupus, Sojøgrens, and Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Chronic and acute infections can trigger the immune system creating a new autoimmune condition. Guillain-Barre´ is an infection that causes PN. Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy is also an autoimmune condition thought to be triggered by infection
6. Hormone Imbalance
Hormone imbalances can cause swollen tissue as fluids shift based on hormone processes. This can put pressure on nerves that creates pain, and if this continues for a long periods of time, the nerves can be damaged
7. Nutritional Imbalance or Deficiencies
Primarily B12 and B6 deficiencies can result in PN since these nutrients are needed for nerve signalling. However, other systemic issues such as heavy metal toxicity, food allergies, and GI inflammation can prevent vitamin/minerals from be adequately absorbed causing deficiencies.
Specific chemotherapy regimens, specifically Vincristine results in PN in 30-40% of patients. For some the PN resolves when the drug is out of their system or shortly after, but for others the PN can last for years after chemotherapy. In some people it causes permanent damage.
9. Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy that involves areas of high concentrations of nerves can damage nerve tissue resulting in PN
Specific chronic infections affect the PNS resulting in PN. For many when the infection runs its course or is treated, the PN resolved, but this is not the case for everyone. Infections directly causing PN are Shingles, Lyme Disease, and HIV
Conventional Treatments for PN
Most people who have had PN are told there is no real solution, only varieties of medications to manage symptoms. These include a class of medications originally designed for depression, but later found to be of some help by affecting the pain signals to the brain such as Gabapentin. Opiods are the other medications offered and the problems with opioids drugs are well documented since opioid drug addictions have become a public health crisis. There are times surgical interventions are offered as well.
The issues with the limited conventional treatment options are they only manage and cover up symptoms. None of the medication or surgical options get to the root of the problem. The cause of the PN must be addressed in order to get real relief. When permanent damage has occured there are no conventional treatments that have any potential of restoring functionality to the damaged tissue. If you have PN and your doctor has told you the only options are toxic drugs with many side effects (many still unknown)- please hear us when we say….You are not alone and there are other options.
Relief with Stem Cells and Functional Medicine
Stem Cell Therapy for PN
Developing technology in regenerative therapy is providing life changing relief that heals nerve damage. Stem cell therapy is safe, effective and can provide relief within days. It is a welcomed alternative for those suffering from PN who know they cannot live the life they want taking high powered drugs or living with pain and immobility.
Stem cells are the first stages of cell development in the body and when they are administered to damaged tissue, they develop into the healthy version of that tissue. In cases of PN, when the myelin cells are damaged, stem cells can redevelop the tissue into healthy tissue which then can relieve PN issues such as nerve pain, tingling, numbness, or touch sensitivities.
While there is a robust scientific community with many many scientific studies showing the benefits of stem cells for tissue repair, the bottom line with stem cells is that they know where to go and where to repair. The beauty of regenerative therapy is they are the smartest cells in the inherent, amazing, and adaptive human body. Your body knows how to repair and heal damaged tissue in safe and long-lasting ways through stem cells. The technological advances in regenerative therapy are simply in how to effectively administer the cells our bodies already have available from birth.
Stem cells can relieve the pain and prevent the current damaged tissue from worsening while the Functional Medicine team works to find and correct the reason the tissue was damaged in the first place, therefore preventing future PN.
Functional Medicine for PN
Many of the 10 causes for PN listed above have a systemic, biochemical imbalance that is driving the PN pain and damage. This means to truly heal PN those imbalances need to be addressed. Diabetes, hormone imbalances, acute/chronic infections, nutritional deficiencies, and autoimmune conditions need to be corrected in order to stop PN from continue to develop.
Functional medicine is also called “root cause” medicine because these doctors are relentless in their pursuit of “why” the issue is occuring. When the “why” us uncovered, the “what” of correcting the health issue can begin. This is why regenerative therapy and functional medicine work so well together for PN. The regenerative therapy can being immediately healing tissue and providing relief while functional medicine begins the steps toward correcting the underlying issue that caused the PN in the first place.
This combination of regenerative therapy for PN and functional medicine is the way our patients get real, lasting, true relief and healing. There is no cover up or symptom management in this process. It is actual correction and healing of the issue causing you pain. The team at LifeWorks Integrative Health exists to give you the real health you need for the life you want. If you are tired of the pain, numbness, tingling, and minute by minute discomfort of PN, we would be honored to join you in your healing journey.