Toxic Neuropathy – The Phantom That Could Be Causing Your Pain

Toxic Neuropathy – The Phantom That Could Be Causing Your Pain

Your cholesterol or blood pressure was elevated so you take multiple medications…

You work in a manufacturing environment…

You’ve been exposed to lead, mercury or thalium in your job…

You have a history of drug or alcohol abuse…

Any of these things can cause one of the most difficult types of peripheral neuropathy to diagnose –

If you have any of these problems with your feet:

  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Numbness

Or if you suffer from

  • Weakness
  • Difficulty walking
  • Shooting pain in your muscles

It is vitally important that you obtain an accurate diagnosis and start treatment as quickly as possible to try and prevent permanent nerve damage. This commonly includes extensive lab tests, electro-diagnostics like EMG/NCV, hair samples and maybe even tissue biopsy.

What Causes Toxic Neuropathy?

Toxic neuropathy is basically nerve damage caused by exposure to toxic substances.  The two most common causes of toxic neuropathy are drug abuse and exposure to chemicals on the job.[1] More and more though environmental sources such as mercury from heavy fish consumption for example must be considered. Any type of prolonged exposure to toxins in the environment can cause toxic neuropathy.  Even prolonged exposure to some organic insecticides or certain self-administered supplements can cause toxic neuropathy.  Some herbal medicines are particularly high in mercury and arsenic, both of which can cause peripheral neuropathy.

Why Can Toxic Neuropathy So Difficult to Diagnose?

Patients with toxic neuropathy often present with very subtle pain or mild weakness.  Because initial symptoms are fairly mild, patients may “blow them off” and it’s then harder to pinpoint a diagnosis.  When symptoms are more pronounced and painful, there may be a lag time between the exposure to the toxin and the onset of significant symptoms.  The symptoms come on so gradually that it’s harder for the patient to give the doctor a clear picture of what they may have been exposed to.

The difficulty in diagnosing toxic neuropathy is one of the reasons that it is so important to consult a doctor with legitimate training. Do your homework here. With experience & expertise and so often a team approach, he or she is more likely to pick up on subtleties that will allow a faster diagnosis.  Faster diagnosis means faster treatment and that means less chance for permanent nerve damage.

What is the Treatment for Toxic Neuropathy?

Our initial goal is always help make the most accurate diagnosis FIRST.

The next step is to devise a treatment plan. The first order of business will be to stop exposure to the suspected toxin(s). If the cause of your toxic neuropathy was environmental, we will work with you to formulate a plan to decrease or eliminate your exposure.

Then you can begin treatment but note these precautions:

  • If you are already suffering nerve deficits that are affecting your ability to perform basic daily tasks due to loss of sensation, you will need to take safety precautions to avoid falls.
  • Treatment is often in-office and home care simultaneously. Unless you do your part, good results will certainly be limited.

Remember, toxic neuropathy can develop even after short term exposure to toxic chemicals and some well known drugs.  If you are suffering from any of the symptoms we’ve discussed and you know or suspect you’ve been exposed to chemicals or you have or have had a drug problem, your doctor immediately.  Toxic neuropathy and chronic pain is often treatable but any kind of neuropathy is very unforgiving of delay and your nerve damage could be very dangerous.

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

The Connection Between Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetic Neuropathy

The Connection Between Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetic Neuropathy

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 their diet, exercise, and other self care only AFTER they have been diagnosed with diabetes or diabetic neuropathy. And by then, for so many, it’s a major health crisis!

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. In fact, it’s the likely cause of most cases of “idiopathic” (cause unknown) neuropathy.

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 many serious conditions, like heart disease.

Your next line of defense is to begin working with a medical specialist who is well trained in diagnosing and teaching you how to treat metabolic syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, and other disorders.

Remember that only you can be an effective health advocate for yourself.

Finally, let us help! There is lot’s of  of information here in our library and videos.

Next, be sure to share with your doctor the crucial lifestyle changes you are making that can have a significant  impact on your health related to metabolic syndrome and diabetic neuropathy.

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

 

Neuropathy Nutrition

Neuropathy Nutrition

One main factor in many cases of peripheral neuropathy is diet.  You probably know that neuropathy is linked to diabetes and other conditions where daily intake of sugars and nutrients is important, but your diet can also influence the condition of nerves in more direct ways, such as in cases where a nutritional deficiency is causing neuropathic damage. We call this Neuropathy Nutrition.

Perhaps the most common links between neuropathy and nutrition is a deficiency in B vitamins, particularly vitamin B-12.  Fight neuropathy by eating foods that are all high in B vitamins.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan, don’t worry!  There are plant foods that contain substantial amounts of B-12 (GREAT Reference HERE).

Vegetables are high in nutrients that have been shown to be effective treating neuropathy.  Additionally, if you suffer from diabetes, fresh produce can mellow your blood sugar levels.  If numbness or pain in your extremities is severe, keep pre-cut vegetables and limited fruits at the ready, so you don’t have to worry about the stress involved with preparing them! Just be careful of too much fruit sugars. This means a serving is 1/2 apple, banana, etc. Most non-starchy vegetables like greens and asparagus especially are great for most of us.

Foods that are high in Vitamin E are also good for neuropathy nutrition, according to neurology.com.  A deficiency of Vitamin E can happen in cases where malabsorption or malnutrition are taking place, such as the case with alcoholic neuropathy.  Whole grains and nuts are all excellent sources of vitamin E.

Lean proteins are also an important part of a healthy diet for people with neuropathy.  Saturated fats and fried foods increase risk of diabetes and heart disease, in addition to aggravating nerve decay from lack of nutrients. If you suffer from diabetes, lean proteins also help to regulate blood sugar levels.

For some types of neuropathy, research shows that specific antioxidants may help slow or even reverse nerve damage that has not existed for too long a time.  For HIV sensory neuropathy, Acetyl-L-Carnitine has demonstrated good results, and Alpha lipoic acid is being studied for its effects on diabetic nerve damage.  But PLEASE, do not self treat! Get an accurate diagnosis and work with a professional armed with the latest research before beginning any supplementation or treatment, even with antioxidants. Let our team help.

Use Tools Like Journaling and Blood Sugar Monitoring Every Day…

So what are the best ways to monitor what you are neuropathy nutrition?  The easiest way is to make lasting changes it to keep a food journal.  Record everything you eat at meals, for snacks, and any vitamin supplements you might be taking.  Your journal will help you and your NeuropathyDR® clinician determine if your diet could be a factor in your neuropathy symptoms!  As a bonus, food journaling is a great way to be accountable for your overall nutrition, as well as to help avoid dietary-related conditions other than neuropathy.  If you have a goal for weight loss, weight gain, or better overall energy, those are other areas in which keeping a food journal can help!  Other ways to monitor what you eat include cooking at home as opposed to going out to restaurants, keeping a shopping list instead of deciding what groceries to buy at the store, and consulting a qualified NeuropathyDR® clinician about the best ways to meet your specific needs.

Dietary supplements (when properly prescribed and monitored by blood testing) may also help manage neuropathic symptoms and nerve degeneration.  Supplementing with only the highest quality, liquid distilled fish oil can help supply Omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for brain and neurologic help. Many other types of supplements can be beneficial if you suffer from neuropathy; consult us directly for specific recommendations.

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Patients and Doctors are invited to call us at 781-659-7989 at 12:30 EST Monday, Wednesday and Thursday to talk with the next available senior clinician.

Looking for a Home Treatment for Chronic Neuropathic Pain? Reasons to Give Meditation a Try

Looking for a Home Treatment for Chronic Neuropathic Pain? Reasons to Give Meditation a Try

Could Meditation be an Effective Home Treatment for Chronic Neuropathic Pain?

Meditation is a free wellness tool that you can use anytime and anywhere. And it’s not as complicated as you might think.

It might surprise you to hear that meditation can be an effective home treatment for chronic neuropathic pain. Maybe it doesn’t seem like something that would be an accepted neuropathy treatment, like medications or other traditional approaches to chronic pain.

In fact, there is a type of meditation that is actually considered to be evidence-based. In other words, multiple studies have looked at this method and seen positive results for chronic pain. A program called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction has been used in many renowned hospitals and medical centers, incorporating a type of mindfulness meditation that focuses on noticing thoughts and sensations without judgment.

There are books and tapes available about this program, but you don’t even need that kind of specialized training to begin using meditation for wellness on your own. All you need is to understand why mindfulness meditation works with chronic pain.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed this evidence-based program, says that when we have chronic pain, there are two things that make us suffer: the physical pain itself, and our thoughts and emotions about the pain that intensify what we are feeling. Our story about the awfulness or unbearableness of the pain builds a layer of tension around it, like wearing a shirt with a collar that’s too tight.

Meditation lets us change the way we feel ABOUT the pain, so that we can be more relaxed and accepting of it. That way, we can experience peacefulness even when physical pain is present.

Those are the reasons why meditation can be an effective home treatment for chronic neuropathic pain. Soon, we’ll discuss some different ways to meditate and how you can find the method that works best for you.

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

A Simple and Effective Treatment for Foot Neuropathy: Gentle Yoga

A Simple and Effective Treatment for Foot Neuropathy: Gentle Yoga

Ease the pain of neuropathy in feet with a simple yoga practice—even if you’ve never done yoga before.

Peripheral neuropathy can be an aggravating and chronic condition, and it’s tough to treat using traditional medications. But there’s a treatment you can do on your own—in a class, or at home—that can be very beneficial over time, and that’s gentle yoga.

Yoga isn’t just about spiritual growth or physical fitness anymore. Many neuropathy patients are finding that simple yoga poses can alleviate uncomfortable tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes. Best of all, many basic yoga poses are easy to learn and don’t require special equipment.

Some of the benefits of a regular yoga practice include:

  1. Increased circulation to the hands and feet. Many yoga poses use the pull of gravity to shift habitual blood flow patterns, particularly to the feet. (Don’t worry, this doesn’t require a headstand!)
  2. Improved body self-awareness. A regular yoga practice can help you connect with your body sensations and really notice what your body is telling you.
  3. Relaxation and peacefulness. A simple, non-strenuous yoga practice for 10 to 30 minutes before bed can help you relax and sleep better. Or, if you prefer, use yoga as a gentle wake-up practice in the morning to set a peaceful tone for your day.

In general, yoga is a wonderful form of self-care that can be modified for your own unique physical goals and needs.

If you have no experience with yoga, it’s best to begin with assistance from a teacher. You can look for a local “gentle yoga” class or use a beginning yoga DVD as a guide at home.

Here’s one very simple yoga technique to get you started with relief for your feet. Sit cross-legged with your shoes and socks off. Weave your fingers one by one through the toes of the opposite foot, and hold this position for about 20 seconds. Then, switch to using the other hand and foot. You may want to do this 2 or 3 times for each foot.

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