Neuropathic 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.

One of the most common links between neuropathy and nutrition is a deficiency in B vitamins, particularly vitamin B-12.  Fight neuropathy by eating foods like meat, fish, and eggs that are all high in B vitamins.  If you are a vegetarian or vegan, don’t worry!  There are many kinds of fortified cereals that contain substantial amounts of B vitamins as well (in addition to supplements, which we’ll talk about in a moment).

The Mayo Clinic recommends a diet high in fruits and vegetables for people who suffer from neuropathy.  Fruits and 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 fruit and vegetables 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, 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.  Breakfast cereals, whole grains, vegetables 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.  A variety of foods—skinless white-meat poultry, legumes, tofu, fish, and low-fat yogurt—are good sources of lean protein.  If you suffer from diabetes, lean proteins also help to regulate blood sugar levels.  Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are good for maintaining levels of Omega-3 acids, healthy fats the body needs but cannot produce on its own.

For specific 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.  Consult your NeuropathyDR® clinician for the latest research before beginning any supplementation or treatment, even with antioxidants.

Use Tools Like Journaling and Blood Sugar Monitoring Every Day...

So what are the best ways to monitor what you are eating?  The easiest way is 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 nutritionist or qualified NeuropathyDR® clinician about the best ways to meet your specific needs.

Dietary supplements can also help manage neuropathic symptoms and nerve degeneration.  Supplementing B Vitamins, particularly vitamin B-12, can help regulate your nutrient levels and prevent neuropathy symptoms.  Supplementing with fish oil can help replenish Omega-3 fatty acids, which are important if you suffer from type-II diabetes. Many other types of supplements can be beneficial if you suffer from neuropathy; consult your NeuropathyDR® clinician for specific recommendations.

Contact us if you have any questions about proper eating when it comes to your neuropathy.  We can help you find the information you need and put you in touch with a NeuropathyDR® clinician who can help you with this and other neuropathy-related questions!

 

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/peripheral-neuropathy/DS00131/DSECTION=lifestyle-and-home-remedies

http://www.foundationforpn.org/livingwithperipheralneuropathy/neuropathynutrition/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/82184-foods-fight-neuropathy/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/121841-nutrients-neuropathy/

 

Entrapment Neuropathy: More Than Just Carpal Tunnel!

Entrapment Neuropathy:  More Than Just Carpal Tunnel!

Last week we talked about carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), one of the most common forms of neuropathy affecting a single nerve (mononeuropathy).  What you might not know is that carpal tunnel syndrome is only one of a family of ailments in the upper limbs known as entrapment neuropathies.  The other entrapment neuropathies are not as well-known in the mainstream as CTS, and so people who suffer from nerve symptoms in their forearms and hands frequently jump to conclusions.  NeuropathyDR® is here to help set the record straight!

An entrapment neuropathy, also called nerve compression syndrome, occurs when a nerve is wedged or “pinched” against a bone, inflamed muscle, or other internal mechanism in your arm.  Aside from the median nerve (the one associated with CTS) there are two main nerves that help to control your arm and hand: the radial nerve and the ulnar nerve.  Both are susceptible to compression, and the results can be painful!

Entrapment occurs under a number of conditions, most commonly:

  • When there is an injury originating at your neck or a disease of the cervical spine
  • When your elbow has been injured due to fractures or improper use
  • When your wrist has been injured due to fractures or Guyon canal alignment problems
  • An aneurysm or thrombosis in your arteries
  • Factors commonly associated with peripheral neuropathy, such as diabetes, rheumatism, alcoholism, or infection

Your radial nerve runs the length of your arm, and is responsible for both movement and sensation.  Radial neuropathy usually occurs at the back of the elbow, and can present itself with many of the common symptoms of neuropathy such as tingling, loss of sensation, weakness and reduced muscle control (in this case, often difficulty in turning your palm upwards with your elbow extended).

A number of palsies affect the radial nerve, such as:

  • Saturday night palsy (also called Honeymooner’s palsy), where your radial nerve is compressed in your upper arm by falling asleep in a position where pressure is exerted on it by either furniture or a bed partner
  • Crutch palsy, where your nerve is pinched by poorly-fitted axillary crutches
  • Handcuff neuropathy, wherein tight handcuffs compress your radial nerve at your wrists

    Peripheral neuropathy is not a condition forgiving of delayed treatment. The longer you wait, the more severe and long-lasting (potentially permanent) your nerve damage can be.

Two main conditions affect the ulnar nerve: Guyon’s canal syndrome and cubital tunnel syndrome.  Guyon’s canal syndrome is almost exactly the same in symptoms as carpal tunnel syndrome (pain and tingling in the palm and first three fingers), but involves a completely different nerve.  Guyon’s canal syndrome is caused by pressure on your wrists, often by resting them at a desk or workstation, and is frequently experienced by cyclists due to pressure from the handlebars.

Nearly everyone has experienced cubital tunnel syndrome: it’s the “dead arm” sensation we’ve all felt when we wake up after sleeping on top of our arm!  Sleeping with your arm folded up compresses the ulnar nerve at your shoulder, causing it to effectively “cut off” feeling to your arm.  As you probably know from experience, this sensation is unsettling but temporary.

Diagnosis for all compression neuropathies is fairly consistent: your NeuropathyDR® clinician will examine your arms for signs of neuropathy, and will likely ask you to perform several demonstrations of dexterity.  If your clinician suspects you may have an underlying condition, nerve or blood tests may be recommended.  To pinpoint the specific location of a compression, your clinician may also suggest MRI or x-ray scans.

Similar to carpal tunnel syndrome, most cases of compression neuropathy are mild. Treatment for these mild cases involves ice, rest, and a change in habits of motion or stress that are causing the symptoms.  For more severe cases, your clinician may prescribe painkillers or anti-inflammatories, and in extreme cases, a surgical solution is sometimes justified.

If you suffer from a compression neuropathy or have questions about this or any other kind of neuropathy, NeuropathyDR® can help!  Contact us, and we can answer your questions and put you in touch with a NeuropathyDR® clinician in your area who has been specially trained to treat any symptoms you might have.  As with any neuropathy, don’t wait!  The sooner a condition is diagnosed, the more options for treatment your clinician will have.

 

http://www.mdguidelines.com/neuropathy-of-radial-nerve-entrapment

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1285531-overview

http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1244885-overview

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2599973/?tool=pmcentrez

 

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and NeuropathyDR Treatment Centers

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome:  A Common Household Neuropathy

If you experience sharp, shooting pains in your arms and wrists when sitting at your desk, driving, or doing other stationary activities, you probably don’t think of neuropathy.  You probably associate neuropathy with extensive nerve damage, like the kind that has to do with diabetes, severe injury, or cancer.  One of the most common forms, though, is a relatively minor condition that affects millions of healthy people: carpal tunnel syndrome.

The carpal tunnel is the small space between bones in your wrist that small tendons and the median nerve run through.  The median nerve runs from your forearm into your palm and controls movement and feeling in most of your hand, except for your little finger.   Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) occurs when there is pressure on the median nerve in your wrist from swelling or tension.  This is known as mononeuropathy, or neuropathy that affects only a single nerve.

People who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome usually experience symptoms in their arms and hands that are similar to other kinds of neuropathy.  Soreness, numbness and tingling, loss of temperature sensation and problems with fine motor control are common.  Because the little finger is not controlled with the median nerve, symptoms that affect the other fingers but not the little finger could represent carpal tunnel syndrome.  At first, symptoms usually show up at night (people often sleep with flexed wrists) and go away by shaking the affected hand.  As time passes, though, symptoms can really stick around throughout the day.

So who is the most susceptible to getting carpal tunnel syndrome?  Many sufferers are simply genetically predisposed, usually because they have thinner wrists that constrict the carpal tunnel and the median nerve.  Women are three times more likely than men to develop the condition, again, because of thinner wrists. 

Many people associate carpal tunnel syndrome with heavy computer use.  This is probably unfounded; a 2001 study at the Mayo Clinic found that using a computer for up to 7 hours a day did not increase the likelihood of CTS developing.  Carpal Tunnel syndrome is not particularly confined to any specific industry or job over any other, but studies establish that it is more common in workers doing assembly, due to the repetitive nature of the task.  Because of the incorrect “conventional wisdom,” conditions such as tendonitis and writer’s cramp are often mistaken for carpal tunnel syndrome.

As with any neuropathy, it is important to identify carpal tunnel syndrome early to avoid permanent damage to the median nerve.  A NeuropathyDR® clinician will be able to examine your neck, back, arms, and hands to establish the nature of any symptoms you might be having.  The clinician may also recommend blood tests to check for related health conditions and nerve tests to determine any damage.

It's Important To Have a CORRECT Diagnosis before treatment!

If you have been diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome, there are several routes for treatment.  Mild conditions can be treated at home with ice and rest to reduce swelling.   Avoid activities that cause repetitive wrist motions for extensive periods without resting.  Practice keeping your wrist in a neutral position, such as the way it rests when holding a glass of water.  Additionally, practice using your whole hand, not just your fingers, when you hold objects.

For more serious cases, or when damage to the nerve has already taken place, your NeuropathyDR® clinician may recommend more extensive measures.  If your symptoms have continued for more than a few weeks with home treatments, see your ND clinician as soon as possible!  Your ND clinician will be able to prescribe our specially designed CTS Protocol which is proving successful in centers around the country!

For the most serious cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, where mobility or nerve function is seriously impaired, surgery can be a solution. But almost never should you do this without trying the non-invasive ND/CTS Protocol First! [In these rare cases, a surgeon can reduce tension on the median nerve by cutting the ligament that constricts the carpal tunnel.]

If you have any questions about carpal tunnel syndrome or other neuropathic conditions, NeuropathyDR® is here to help!  Don’t hesitate to contact us—we can give you more information about your symptoms and help you find a NeuropathyDR® clinician in your area.

 

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/carpal-tunnel-syndrome/DS00326

http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/carpal_tunnel/detail_carpal_tunnel.htm

http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/carpal-tunnel/carpal-tunnel-syndrome-topic-overview

 

 

When Neuropathy Changes Critical Body Functions

Autonomic Neuropathy: More Dangerous than You Think

If you read our articles often, you know that we usually talk about peripheral neuropathy in terms of pain and inconvenience.  We usually write about quality of life, but it’s also important to know about a much more serious element: the dangers of autonomic neuropathy.

Autonomic neuropathy is the term that means damage has been done to the nerves that control the automatic functions of your body.  These functions include blood pressure, heart rate, bowel and bladder emptying, and digestion.  When the nerves are damaged, these functions can start to behave incorrectly.  It can be dangerous and even life-threatening when this happens.

If you have symptoms of nerve damage such as:

  • Numbness or tingling
  • Loss of motor control
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Dizziness and sweating
  • Loss of hot and cold sensation

You may also have more serious damage to the nerves controlling your organs.  If you think you might, see a NeuropathyDR® clinician right away!  Many cases of autonomic neuropathy accompany cases of peripheral neuropathy that have more easily-noticed symptoms.  With autonomic neuropathy, your body can have trouble controlling your blood pressure, might not digest food correctly, or could have problems regulating your body temperature.  These conditions are dangerous!

Don’t be confused!

Neuropathy Doctors and Physical Therapists

The Neuropathy Treatment System Patients and Clinicians Ask For by Name (TM)

Autonomic neuropathy isn’t a disease of its own, and it’s not caused by any one thing.  You can be at risk of developing nerve damage if you suffer from injuries, if you’ve had an amputation, or even if you spend long amounts of time sitting still.  Most commonly, autonomic neuropathy goes along with a disease or condition, such as:

  • Alcoholism
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer (specifically, chemotherapy)
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Lupus

If you have any of these, you are at risk.  Don’t wait until you develop symptoms; see your NeuropathyDR® clinician before symptoms start.  You could have damage threatening your organs that you can’t detect yourself, but your doctor can discover.  If your NeuropathyDR® doctor catches neuropathy early, it can save your life and even keep you from having troubling and dangerous symptoms.

So how will your doctor know if your organs are in danger?

Well, the first source of information is you.  Make sure you answer your doctor’s questions about your lifestyle, exercise, diet, habits, and so on.  Be honest!  NeuropathyDR® clinicians are here to help, not to judge.  Volunteer any information the doctor might not know, like medication you’re taking and any symptoms like the ones above you might have.

Your doctor will take your blood pressure and inspect your extremities (especially your feet) for signs of sores, infections, or sensation problems.  It is possible he will conduct an ultrasound to inspect your organs in greater detail, or run tests on specific organs, such as your bladder.  These are all perfectly routine, and do not necessarily mean there is a serious problem.  Don’t forget: we want to catch any problems as soon as we can!

If there is a problem threatening your organs, your NeuropathyDR® Treatment Center can help!

Your doctor will make sure you’re taken care of the best way possible.  For autonomic neuropathy, this can mean a couple of different treatments used together to keep you healthy.  Several kinds of medications are available which will help slow the effects of nerve damage and reduce the symptoms.

Your doctor will also instruct you on ways to make your everyday routine more conducive for living with neuropathy.  You may have to adjust your diet, and certain kinds of exercise may be more dangerous to people with neuropathy.  Don’t worry, though!  There are still lots of great foods you’ll be encouraged to eat, and you’ll be able to keep in shape the right way with the plan you and your NeuropathyDR® clinician develop together.

There’s no absolute cure for neuropathy, but NeuropathyDR® doctors and physical therapists are trained experts when it comes to the best ways to treat its different forms and keep you safe.  If you have symptoms of neuropathy, or if you suffer from one of the conditions that contribute to it, don’t wait!  The earlier we catch neuropathy, the safer and happier you will be.  If you aren’t already in touch with a NeuropathyDR® clinician in your area, contact us and we will be happy to help you find one.

 

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/autonomic-neuropathy/DS00544

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000776.htm

http://www.ccjm.org/content/68/11/928.full.pdf+html