Neuropathy Basics: Distinguishing Sensory Neuropathy from Motor Neuropathy

What You Need to Know about the Two Types of Neuropathy and How to Treat Them

Why is neuropathy so difficult sometimes to diagnose and treat?

Well, for starters, there is no one disorder known as neuropathy. Technically, it’s an entire group of issues ranging from basic to complex.

One helpful way of subdividing this class of disorders is to think about sensory vs. motor. Sensory neuropathy is about sensation or lack of sensation—in other words, tingling or pain on one end of the spectrum and numbness on the other end.

Losing sensation can also affect balance, which is a major quality of life issue.

Things like diabetic neuropathy (in its early stages), neuropathy related to metabolic syndrome, and chemotherapy induced neuropathy are examples of sensory neuropathies.

On the other hand, motor (or movement) neuropathy describes a loss of power and strength in the muscles. The major symptom of this type of neuropathy is muscle weakness.

Unfortunately, motor issues can be difficult to diagnose and even harder to treat. You can end up with motor neuropathy as a side effect of a Lyme disease infection, or it can be genetic.

What’s important to know about sensory vs. motor neuropathy is that even the most advanced cases with the worst symptoms can often show some amount of improvement through self care. That means good nutrition, physical therapy, and at-home neurostimulation techniques. Some types of supplements may also help, such as CoQ10.

Even though I’m urging self care, I want to make sure you truly understand that a good self care protocol and treatment plan is always developed in collaboration with a knowledgeable neuropathy clinician.

If you don’t know where to turn to find a trained neuropathy expert in your local area, click here for a list of NeuropathyDR® clinicians sorted by region.

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Just Diagnosed? The Next Step After Your Neuropathy Diagnosis

A Neuropathy Diagnosis Can Be Frightening and Confusing. Here’s What To Do Next.

Finding out about your neuropathy diagnosis can be a confusing and even frightening time. You may be feeling overwhelmed with information and choices. Or you may be uncertain whether you are correctly understanding what your doctor has said.

Often, newly diagnosed neuropathy patients have been living with increasingly painful symptoms for a while. It may be stunning to discover that nerve damage is responsible for those symptoms.

You may also be adjusting to the diagnosis or treatment of a systemic condition that has led to neuropathy symptoms, such as lupus, cancer, or diabetes.

It’s a lot to get used to, and it may be hard to know what you should do next.

Let me share some of the most basic steps that should happen right after a neuropathy diagnosis.

The immediate step is to address any acute symptom flare-ups that may be happening. That may mean being hospitalized to get control of an episode related to an autoimmune disease or diabetic crisis. Or it may mean seeking appropriate medication to reduce inflammation or pain.

When this immediate crisis has settled, the next step for you is to address your daily health habits that can positively or negative affect the long-term outcome of your neuropathy diagnosis. If you are more than 20 pounds overweight, work with your doctor on a plan to drop those extra pounds in a safe way. Reduce or remove sugar and processed foods from your diet. Stop smoking as quickly as possible.

You can also take other steps such as filtering the water in your home, using only “green” cleaning agents, and building moderate exercise into your daily routine.

Perhaps the most important step is to identify a trained neuropathy doctor in your area who can provide the most up-to-date and comprehensive treatment plan for your neuropathy diagnosis. Click here to find a NeuropathyDR® specialist near you.

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Diabetic Neuropathy and Good Chiropractic Care

In Diabetic Neuropathy, Chiropractic Care Can Reduce Symptoms and Improve Quality of Life.

Some kinds of neuropathy happen to people with diabetes, a severe imbalance in blood sugar levels which can block proper blood flow to the nerves.

With diabetes, you might also have some of these diabetic neuropathy symptoms:

  • Loss of ability to feel warm or cold sensations
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Problems controlling your bladder
  • Digestive trouble, like vomiting or nausea and diarrhea
  • Feelings of burning, tingling, or numbness in your feet or hands
  • General muscle weakness

Some of these symptoms, specifically numbness in the hands and feet, can lead to some of the most dangerous complications of diabetes: infection, slow healing, and the possible need amputation as a lifesaving measure.

With this diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy, you may already have been directed to monitor your blood sugar level, avoid certain foods in your diet, and possibly take prescription medications to manage your symptoms. You’ll also be asked to notice and report any sores, blisters, or inflamed areas that could lead to infection in order to intervene quickly to head off serious complications.

This is a great start and an important baseline of health for people with diabetic neuropathy. But for many, it isn’t enough for true symptom relief and quality of life.

In this case, consider looking into chiropractic care by a NeuropathyDR® specialist, who can address any issues you have with spinal alignment that may be negatively affecting your pancreas and other internal organs—not to mention your nervous system.

The two goals of chiropractic care in people with diabetic neuropathy are reducing your pain and beginning to help your nerves repair themselves. In addition to manually manipulating your joints and bones for proper alignment, chiropractic care may involve the use of topical pain relieving medications and various types of nerve stimulation.

If you are looking for a NeuropathyDR® specialist in your area, click here.

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STD & Neuropathy

Let’s be honest, STD & Neuropathy are difficult to talk about.

Ignorance is NOT bliss, in fact it’s dangerous!

•     HIV/AIDS

•     Genital Herpes (or any one of the large number of herpes-simplex viruses)

•     Gonorrhea

•     Syphilis

•     Chlamydia

•     Hepatitis B and D

•     HPV (Human papillomavirus infection)

Yes, we said one or more.

Because of the way sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) are spread, it’s not uncommon to be infected with more than one STD through a single encounter.  For example, about half of the people who are infected in a single sexual encounter with Chlamydia are also infected with gonorrhea at the same time.

If you’ve been diagnosed with an STD and you’re now experiencing

•     Extreme fatigue

•     Headaches

•     Painful, swollen joints

•     Swelling in your feet, legs or hands

•     Pleurisy

You may have yet another symptom from your STD to worry about – any of these diseases can cause peripheral neuropathy.

If it does, the pain, swelling or even loss of sensation won’t go away on its own.  And more than just causing pain, it can be deadly if the wrong nerves are affected.

How Does A Sexually Transmitted Disease Cause Peripheral Neuropathy?

Many of these STD are caused by viruses or bacteria.  Viruses and bacteria can attack nerve tissue and severely damage sensory nerves. If those nerves are damaged, you’re going to feel the pain, quickly.

The virus that causes HIV, in particular, can cause extensive damage to the peripheral nerves.  Often, the progression of the disease can actually be tracked according to the specific type of neuropathy the patient develops.  Painful polyneuropathy affecting the feet and hands can be one of first clinical signs of HIV infection.

Any of these viral or bacterial disorders can cause indirect nerve damage.  Those damaged nerves lead to peripheral neuropathy.

Exactly What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that develops when the peripheral nervous system is damaged by a condition like diabetes, cancer or a sexually transmitted disease.  When these nerves are damaged, they no longer communicate properly and all the bodily functions they govern are disrupted.

Depending upon which nerves are damaged and the functions they serve, you can develop serious or even life threatening symptoms.

Why Should You Worry About Peripheral Neuropathy?

After all, you’ve already received a devastating diagnosis when you found out you had a sexually transmitted disease.  Aside from the physical discomfort, as a responsible partner you have to alter how you handle the most intimate aspect of your life.

But you should worry about peripheral neuropathy because you could develop serious problems.

If your peripheral neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system, you could develop

•     Blood pressure problems

•     Heart rate issues

•     Bladder or bowel control issues

•     Difficulty swallowing because your esophagus doesn’t function properly

•     Bloating

•     Heart burn

•     Inability to feel sensation in your hands and feet

Beyond being uncomfortable, any of these conditions can cause serious health issues; some can even be fatal.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

If you suspect you have a sexually transmitted disease, get medical treatment immediately.  If you’re sexually active and have more than one partner, you might want to be tested even if you don’t have any of the common STD symptoms.  Often patients, especially women, are infected and have no symptoms.  Getting tested and finding out early on if you’re infected will make it less likely that you’ll develop peripheral neuropathy and nerve damage.

If you know you have a sexually transmitted disease and you’ve developed any of the peripheral neuropathy symptoms we mentioned earlier, one of the smartest things you can do for yourself to head off potential problems is to consult a specialist who treats neuropathy and will recognize problems quickly and act to resolve them.  A great place to start is with your local NeuropathyDR® clinician.  Your NeuropathyDR® specialist follows a very specific protocol specifically designed to minimize nerve damage from peripheral neuropathy.

Contact us today for information on the best course of treatment to make sure that once your sexually transmitted disease is cured or under control, you won’t carry the burden of nerve damage from peripheral neuropathy.

For more information on coping with peripheral neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.


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Neuropathy Foot Care

Neuropathy Foot Care is Essential for Maintaining Your Health

It’s true that we should all probably be wearing more comfortable shoes. Our culture tends to favor types of shoes that are more suited for fashion than comfort—high heels or stiff dress shoes, pull-on flats with no arch support, or backless flip-flops.

In most people, these kinds of shoes can sometimes cause problems ranging from back pain to painful calluses.

But if you have neuropathy, footwear choices become much more than a fashion statement. Neuropathy foot comfort and health can play a big role in overall wellness and maintaining good health overall.

I would say that in particular, for people with diabetic neuropathy, foot self care is one of the most important aspects of self care along with diet to maintain blood sugar.

Anyone with peripheral neuropathy may also experience other debilitating foot-related issues, such as plantar fasciitis.

So, what are the basics of neuropathy foot care?

Comfortable shoes are the first step. This begins with having your feet measured at a shoe store to make sure you are buying the right size shoes for your feet. It’s common for the shape and/or size of feet to change slightly with age. For people with peripheral neuropathy, foot changes can be due to swelling or changes in the muscles.

Be sure to measure both feet! Many people have feet that are slightly different sizes, and you’ll need to buy shoes according to the size of your larger foot.

Before you buy new footwear, consult with your neuropathy clinician about the right kind of shoes for neuropathy foot care. He or she may recommend diabetic footwear, which can hold custom inserts.

Even if your doctor tells you that you can wear regular shoes, I would strongly urge you to stay away from problematic shoes (from high heels to flip-flops) and choose to wear shock-absorbing running shoes the majority of the time.

Proper neuropathy foot care is just one of the aspects of good health for people with neuropathy. Learn more by reading our neuropathy owners manual, I Beat Neuropathy!

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Diabetic Neuropathy: Advice for the Newly Diagnosed

If You Have Just Been Diagnosed with Diabetic Neuropathy, It’s Important to Seek Expert Treatment Right Away. Here’s Why.

In short, the term “diabetic neuropathy” refers to peripheral neuropathy symptoms in people who have the chronic illness known as diabetes. Diabetic neuropathy happens when your blood sugar becomes elevated and there is not enough blood flowing to your body’s nerve centers.

This leads to neuropathic pain symptoms, such as numbness, insensitivity to hot or cold, weakness or cramping of muscles, or burning/tingling in extremities. You may also experience problems with bladder control, nausea, or diarrhea.

Unfortunately, diabetic neuropathy has severe long-term health consequences. The longer you postpone treatment, the higher the chance of irreversible nerve damage and lifelong symptoms that hinder your quality of life.

On the other hand, seeking immediate help from a trained neuropathy specialist is likely to allow you to reduce your neuropathy symptoms right away and prevent serious health problems.

Your neuropathy treatment specialist will collaborate with you to create a treatment plan. The immediate focus will be getting your diabetes in control to avoid additional nerve damage.

Along with any prescribed medications to maintain blood sugar levels, you will be asked to follow a neuropathy diet for controlling diabetes. Typically, this diet eliminates processed foods and refined sugars while focusing on lean proteins, fiber, and lots of fresh vegetables.

Your diabetic neuropathy treatment plan may also include therapies to reduce your neuropathic pain symptoms and aid your nervous system in self-repair. Your neuropathy treatment specialist may recommend specific types of manual therapies, such as chiropractic or physical therapy, or certain technologies like laser light therapy or nerve stimulation devices.

A neuropathy treatment plan could include the addition of oral or topical nutrients to aid in healing. Many neuropathy treatment specialists will recommend a custom blend of nutrients for your specific health challenges.

To find a diabetic neuropathy treatment specialist in your area, click here.

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Neuropathy Treatment Decisions: Should You Take Medications for Neuropathy?

The Most Comprehensive and Effective Neuropathy Treatment Approach Goes Beyond Medicating Symptoms and Treats the Root Cause.

There is so much more to effective neuropathy treatment than masking symptoms with medications.

Unfortunately, you would hardly know that’s the case, given how the majority of doctors still approach neuropathy treatment. The truth is that relying on the expertise of a doctor who isn’t specifically trained in neuropathy treatment could end up making your neuropathy symptoms worse, not better.

That’s because so many of the drugs that doctors tend to prescribe for neuropathy symptoms like tingling, numbness, and nerve pain have side effects, some of which will intensify over time.

This “one drug fits all” approach often stems from a lack of understanding about the root cause of neuropathy symptoms.

So-called idiopathic neuropathy, for which there is no known cause, may actually be developed over time due to metabolic syndrome—formerly known as pre-diabetes—a condition that will not be addressed at all by traditional symptom-focused drug therapies for neuropathy.

Or worse, if a doctor ignores the neuropathy and attempts to treat metabolic syndrome using medications for lowering cholesterol or blood pressure, your neuropathy symptoms are likely to get worse in reaction to these drugs.

The most effective approach to neuropathy treatment is a multi-modal approach that begins with substantial lifestyle changes and complementary therapies to support your body’s own natural healing process. Work with a trained neuropathy expert on a treatment plan that includes safe weight loss, a healthy neuropathy diet with no sugars or processed foods, and regular moderate exercise.

When you take the wheel of your own neuropathy treatment plan and consult with an expert trained in the best that neuropathy treatment has to offer, your quality of life will improve for the better.

There is a place for prescription medications. But I truly believe that a comprehensive neuropathy treatment approach that goes beyond drugs and puts YOU in the driver’s seat is the best way to begin healing from neuropathic pain.

Click here to find a neuropathy treatment expert near you.

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Your Neuropathy Diet: The Hard Truth About Dairy

You Won’t Hear This Advice From Many Doctors, But This One Factor Can Change the Effectiveness of Your Neuropathy Diet.

The consumption of dairy products has always been a highly charged topic in nutrition. On the one hand, there is a sizable lobby advocating for the U.S. dairy industry. On the other hand, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that regular consumption of dairy products is a pretty bad idea for human beings.

In short, if you are wrestling with whether to include milk and other dairy products in your neuropathy diet, any contemplation of this question leads to a straightforward conclusion.

More than half of the human population has trouble digesting milk, leading to digestion problems, allergic reactions, and eventually elevated levels of “bad fats” in your body. What’s worse, there is a hormonal growth factor contained in most dairy products that is known to instigate several different types of cancer, including prostate and breast cancer. One specific kind of milk sugar called galactose is linked to ovarian cancer.

And the regular consumption of dairy is additionally linked to the likelihood of developing type 1 diabetes, which is a major risk factor for neuropathic pain.

All of this means that a neuropathy diet that eliminates dairy (as well as gluten) is one of the most effective ways to reduce inflammation and pain associated with neuropathy and chronic pain.

It’s best to make a gradual shift in your diet so that the changes you instill can be permanent. There are many dairy alternatives out there, including products made from coconut, rice, and almonds. Just watch out for any added sugar or thickening agents like carrageenan.

As always, I urge you to become your own best health advocate. Do your research and seek out a doctor who has the background to prescribe an effective neuropathy diet.

Need to find a neuropathy doctor near you?

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The Connection Between Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetic Neuropathy

What Do You Need to Know About Diabetic Neuropathy and Metabolic Syndrome?

Years ago, we called it pre-diabetes. Lately, the common term is Syndrome X. No matter what name we give it, metabolic syndrome is a potentially devastating diagnosis.

I would go so far as to say that metabolic syndrome is the number one most dangerous medical condition challenging our society today.

That’s because so many people start to take care of themselves in terms of diet, exercise, and other self care only AFTER they have been diagnosed with diabetes or diabetic neuropathy. And by then, for so many of those people, it’s almost too late to matter.

Metabolic syndrome lies hidden for years, causing damage to multiple major body systems. At our clinics, we see so many patients with diabetic neuropathy and chronic pain related to metabolic syndrome.

Typically, metabolic syndrome tends to show up as a collection of subtle symptoms many years before a diabetes diagnosis. People with metabolic syndrome will notice a weight increase and thickening of the waist, along with small changes in their blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

The first thing you can do to protect yourself from the ravages of metabolic syndrome is to accept that a 20+ pound weight gain and spreading waistline is not a normal part of aging, and in fact can lead to very dangerous health complications. Being overweight is a risk factor for peripheral neuropathy in addition to other conditions, like heart disease.

Your next line of defense is to begin working with a medical specialist who is well trained in diagnosing metabolic syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, and other disorders. Remember that only you can be an effective health advocate for yourself.

Finally, ask your doctor about lifestyle changes that can have a significant positive impact on your health related to metabolic syndrome and diabetic neuropathy.

Get your copy of our neuropathy owners manual, I Beat Neuropathy!

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Neuropathy Supplements: What You Need to Know About Biotin

Many People Don’t Know About Vitamin B7, One of the Important Neuropathy Supplements.

If you’ve heard about the B vitamin known as biotin, you might have only seen references to it in terms of cosmetics. Recently there’s been a surge of beauty products that include biotin as an ingredient, supposedly to strengthen or enhance nails, skin, and hair.

The truth is, using personal products with added biotin probably will not have any impact on your hair or make your nails stronger. There’s very little hard evidence of this.

And in the general population, most people don’t have a biotin deficiency, because it’s generated by our normal gut bacteria. (The exception is when someone is taking long-term antibiotics, which can harm those intestinal bacteria and lead to low biotin levels.)

But in terms of neuropathy supplements, biotin or vitamin B7 can be a powerhouse. Here’s what neuropathy patients and especially those struggling with diabetes need to know about supplementing with biotin.
If you have a genuine deficiency in biotin, similar to the other B vitamins, you might be experiencing symptoms like fatigue, skin rashes, depression, and peripheral neuropathy.

Diabetics may have a higher than average need for supplementing with biotin. Neuropathy supplements like biotin can aid in regulating blood sugar and lipids for diabetics.

Biotin is naturally present in a broad range of foods, although the amount of biotin in a single serving tends to be very small. The key to getting enough biotin in your diet without supplementation is to stick with a regimen of plenty of leafy green veggies, eggs, and other healthy whole food sources.

For most people with neuropathic pain, biotin can help. Consult with your neuropathy specialist about whether neuropathy supplements like biotin are needed to bolster your symptom-busting neuropathy diet.

For more information about what to eat for a neuropathy diet, take a look at our neuropathy owners manual, I Beat Neuropathy!

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