Peripheral Neuropathy

Overview

A peripheral neuropathy is a disturbance in the function of a peripheral nerve or nerves. There is abnormal conduction of nerve impulses from the input to the spinal cord and brain. A neuropathy may cause strange and unpleasant symptoms including:

  • Tingling and numbness
  • Causalgia (burning sensations)
  • Dysesthesia (burning, crawling sensation, itchy, tingling, and numbness)
  • Hyperesthesia (minor physical touch can cause excruciating pain)

When the autonomic system is involved, there may be postural hypotension, lack of sweating, lack of tears and saliva, urinary retention, and impotence. There are numerous causes of a neuropathy, including heavy metal overload, chemicals, drugs, diabetes, Lyme disease, viral infections, Guillain-Barre Syndrome and in rare instances, malnutrition. There may also be damage due to environmental toxins and chemicals such as acrylamide, allyl chloride and carbon disulfide. Glue-huffing and solvent abuses are other possible etiologies.

Other neuropathies, although uncommon, exist due to mitochondrial damage in the form of direct injury or entrapment. Both of these result in a specific nerve innervation distribution. A large subsection consists of toxin or drug-induced nerve damage. The causes include a wide variety of drugs, the most common of which are flagyl, phenytoin, and simvastatin (cholesterol-lowering drug), anti-HIV retro-viral drugs, and isoniazid used in management of T.B. (depletes B-6).

The heavy metals that cause damage include lead, arsenic, thallium, and mercury. Arsenic poisoning may mimic Guillain-Barré syndrome. Lead tends to affect motor function more than sensory. Thallium produces a painful sensory-motor neuropathy.

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Symptoms

  • Gradual onset of numbness in feet and hands
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • Burning pain
  • Lack of coordination
  • Muscle weakness
  • Bowel or bladder problems
  • Sharp or jabbing pains

This is not a complete list and if you are experiencing these symptoms it is not guaranteed you have peripheral neuropathy.

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Management

The approach that The Houston Wellness Clinic uses is as follows:

  • Exclude any underlying causes as outlined above; first is diabetes, since it is so commonly associated with neural damage
  • Nerve conduction studies and electromyographic studies are done
  • Sugar, iron and B-12 levels are examined

If no underlying causes are found, we give much specified nutritional support which includes exact doses of vitamins & minerals, essential fatty acids (especially gamma-linolenic acid, borage oil, evening primrose oil and black currant oil), antioxidants, and many other supplements depending on your specific needs.

Our most aggressive therapy includes replacement of any deficiencies, vitamin and antioxidant replacement with mega-doses given through intravenous therapy. On occasions acupuncture may be of assistance.

There is not one given management for peripheral neuropathy. Dr. Allibone is a specialist at finding the root of the issue in each individual patient so that a tailored plan can be implemented. This management method produces the best long-term effects for optimal health.

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If we fill our hours with regrets of yesterday and with worries of tomorrow, we have no today in which to enjoy our existence. Seize the day, and take control of your health and life. How you are going to live those tomorrows will depend on how you act and choose today. - George Allibone M.D.