This condition affects at least 20 million Americans and the number is growing. Known primarily for causing numbness, pain, burning, and tingling in the hands and feet, peripheral neuropathy can affect any nerve emitting from the spinal cord. Internal neuropathy can affect the bladder, heart, digestive organs, and intestines.
Even though it is associated with the sensory nerves, it also causes damage to the motor nerves that control muscle movement, gait, and balance. A high percentage of neuropathy sufferers have diabetes, but other causes are statin(cholesterol) drugs, drugs that treat heartburn and GERD, drugs for gout, and chemotherapy, There are 50 known medications that either cause or contribute to peripheral neuropathy. Other causes are repetitive trauma such as walking or standing on hard surfaces, chronic lower back issues, spinal degeneration, chemical exposure and nerve damage from surgery or other trauma.
One very important cause that is overlooked by medical practitioners is systemic inflammatory response. In other words, the presence of low level inflammation throughout the body that affects nerves, blood vessels, mucous membranes and soft tissue. This not to be confused with inflammation from an infection where the tissue is hot, swollen and red. Systemic inflammation can only be detected with laboratory testing such as blood, urine and breath samples.
Once these triggers are identified they must be eliminated or neutralized so as to allow the tissue to be healthy again. This can be a key factor when assessing and managing peripheral neuropathy. Results can be gratifying, however, you as a patient must be “patient”, and committed to the care and recommendations. Peripheral neuropathy doesn’t happen overnight and reversing the effects does take time.