Did You Inherit Your Neuropathy?


 

Chances are, if you’re reading this and you’re already in your late 20’s or early 30’s (or older) and you have [1]

•      Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

•      Hereditary Neuropathy with Liability to Pressure Palsies (HNPP)

•      Dejerine-Sottas Disease (DSD)

•      Hereditary Motor Neuropathy (HMN)

You were probably diagnosed in your teens or possibly earlier.  But if you or someone you know is in their teens (or younger) and they have a combination of the following symptoms:

•      Numbness

•      Tingling

•      Pain in their feet and hands

•      Weakness and loss of muscle mass (especially in their calves or lower legs and feet)

•      Impaired sweating

•      Insensitivity to pain

•      Foot deformities such as hammer toes or high arches

•      Scoliosis (curvature of the spine)

It might be time to do some genetic testing to determine if they have a form of hereditary neuropathy.

 

What is Hereditary Neuropathy?

Hereditary neuropathies are inherited disorders that affect the peripheral nervous system, often resulting in peripheral neuropathy.  Hereditary neuropathies can affect you in many different ways but they are usually grouped into four different categories[2]:

•      Motor and sensory neuropathy – affecting movement and the ability to feel sensations

•      Sensory neuropathy – affecting the senses

•      Motor neuropathy – affecting the ability to move

•      Sensory and autonomic neuropathy – affecting the ability to feel sensation and the autonomic nervous system (the system that controls your ability to sweat, your heart rate, your body’s ability to regulate your blood pressure, your digestion, etc.)

As the names imply, they are classified based on exactly which nerves are affected and which functions are impaired.

The most common form of hereditary neuropathy is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (a motor and sensory neuropathy)  affecting 1 out of every 2500 people.  Most people with CMT are diagnosed before they reach their 20’s but their symptoms can begin years earlier.  CMT may take a while to diagnose because the symptoms can wax and wane over a period of years.

How Can I Find Out if I Have Hereditary Neuropathy?

The only way to diagnose hereditary neuropathy is through blood tests for genetic testing, nerve conduction studies and nerve biopsies.   If you’ve been diagnosed without going through any of these tests, you probably don’t have a good diagnosis.

Your doctor should take a very thorough history and physical.  In order to really determine if you are at risk for hereditary neuropathy, you need to look as far back as three generations.  However, a word to the wise, even if you hereditary neuropathy has not shown up in your family previously, all inherited diseases have to start somewhere.  You could just be the person starting it in your family.   That makes genetic testing even more important.

Are Hereditary Neuropathies Curable?

 

There are no cures for the various types of hereditary neuropathies.  Treatment is usually to treat the symptoms and give your body the support it needs to function as normally as possible.  That usually means physical and occupational therapy,  as well as

•      Care and correction for your muscular and skeletal systems

•      Treatment for any other underlying medical problems

•      Nutrition education and diet planning

•      A step by step exercise regimen

•      Medication as needed or necessary

A highly skilled medical professional well versed in diagnosing and treating nerve damage is your best place to start for treatment of your Hereditary Neuropathy.  An excellent place to start is with a NeuropathyDr® clinician.  They have had great success in treating patients with hereditary neuropathy in all its various forms.

If you have a confirmed diagnosis of Hereditary Neuropathy or think you may have it, seek treatment now.  While you can’t be cured, you can take steps to treat and lessen your symptoms and greatly improve your quality of life.  Contact us today for information on how your Hereditary Neuropathy can be treated, your suffering lessened and exactly how to find a NeuropathyDr® in your area.

 

Toxic Neuropathy – The Phantom That Could Be Causing Your Pain

 


Your cholesterol was elevated so your doctor prescribed statins…

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 –

Toxic Neuropathy.[1]

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

You could be suffering from toxic neuropathy.  You need to see a health care provider very familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of peripheral neuropathy in all its forms, preferably a NeuropathyDR® clinician.

It is vitally important that you obtain a diagnosis and start treatment as quickly as possible to prevent permanent nerve damage.

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.  Any type of prolonged exposure to toxins in the environment can cause toxic neuropathy.  Even prolonged exposure to some organic insecticides or certain herbal medications can cause toxic neuropathy.  Some Chinese herbal medicines are particularly high in mercury and arsenic, both of which can cause peripheral neuropathy.

Why Is 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, it’s 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 healthcare provider who specializes in treating neuropathy, like a NeuropathyDR®.  Because this is your NeuropathyDR® clinician’s field of expertise, 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?

Your NeuropathyDR® clinician’s initial goal will be to confirm the diagnosis and then determine the toxin that caused your toxic neuropathy.  Once you know that caused the problem, your NeuropathyDR® clinician will sit down with you and formulate a plan to remove or minimize your exposure to the toxin.[2]

The next step is to devise a treatment plan.  If your toxic neuropathy was caused by drug use or abuse, the first order of business will be to stop the drug use.

If the cause of your toxic neuropathy was environmental, your NeuropathyDR® clinician will work with you to formulate a plan to decrease or eliminate your exposure to the toxin.

Then you can begin treatment.  Your NeuropathyDR® clinician will

  • Advise you to take over-the-counter pain medication unless your symptoms are severe enough to warrant prescription pain medication.
  • 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.
  • Treat you with nerve stimulation and manual manipulation of your skeletal system to get your body back into alignment and alleviate your nerve pain.

Remember, toxic neuropathy can develop even after short term exposure to toxic chemicals or 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, contact your local NeuropathyDR® clinician immediately.  Toxic neuropathy is treatable but any kind of neuropathy is very unforgiving of delay and your nerve damage could be permanent.

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

[1] http://www.neuropathy.org/site/DocServer/Toxin-Induced_Neuropathies.pdf?docID=1603