Metabolic syndrome used to be called pre-diabetes. It is a devastating syndrome where blood sugar and blood fats are not handled properly, predisposing us to heart and vascular illnesses, diabetes of course. The frightening thing is how often so many professionals don’t stress its significance and preventive strategies in daily practice. We are seeing more and more of it in younger ages, where the first presenting sign is peripheral neuropathy. We’ll have way more on this next time.
We have discussed in previous blogs the causes of peripheral neuropathy and have in a very simplistic way addressed what might be actually occurring to cause nerve damage at the cellular level. The good news is that we have been able to produce very effective treatments for peripheral neuropathies by combining three specific modalities.
The first is the application of manual therapy. Manual therapies, including massage, mobilization, stretching and spinal manipulation especially have been employed for centuries. The research literature abounds with the effectiveness of manual therapies for many conditions.
Despite abundant research, controversy of course still exists. However, I will tell you, as will any good doctor, that any treatment that proves to be cost-effective and is not harmful should be employed prior to the administration of more expensive and potentially harmful techniques such as powerful medications with unfortunate side effects.
The next part of the treatment protocol is nutrition therapy. This is something that really needs to be tailor-made. However, there are some nutrients that we should address in the context of discussing our treatment program for peripheral neuropathy.
The supplements that are used most commonly are prescribed by health care professionals only after the extensive evaluation is performed in the office. This would have to include, of course, all of your previous medical background, recent laboratory tests, as well as other tests that the doctor may determine warranted for your particular condition.
Lumbar Trauma: Trauma to the lumbar area of the back can be another cause of neuropathy and chronic pain. This trauma can be as slight as lifting a bag of groceries out of the trunk, picking up a grandchild, or bending down to tie a shoe. Our studies show a 60% correlation between repeated injuries to the lower back and subsequent development of neuropathy and chronic pain symptoms.
During the acute phase of localized trauma, inflammation develops reducing arterial and venous blood to the lumbar synaptic junctions. Nerves in the region temporarily shrink due to the reduction in activity. Since the body tends to conserve resources, the affected nerves begin to atrophy, the synaptic junction gap begins to widen, and synaptic minerals leech away making signal transmission more difficult.
Signals of normal strength can no longer cross synapses that are damaged by the reduction in blood flow. The loss of signals across the synapses compounds the process of deterioration. Muscle atrophy and a host of other problems follow. We have found that a signal delivered at 7.83 cycles per second (the body’s natural electromagnetic resonant frequency) and at an amplitude approximately 10 times that originally required will cross these enlarged synapses, repolarize them.
High Blood Pressure Medication: High blood pressure medication not only lowers blood pressure, it also reduces the ability of the arterial blood to refill the veins. This vacancy results as the venous muscle pumps the blood back to the heart. When this occurs the blood has a tendency to pool in the lower extremities; the nerves and synaptic junctions do not have enough necessary nutrition and oxygen to maintain their health resulting in nerve cell atrophy, loss of mineralization, and conductivity of the synaptic junctions as explained above.
Chemotherapeutic Agents: Prescribed for cancer precisely because they inhibit fast growing or fast acting cells, chemotherapeutic agents cause neuropathy and chronic pain in approximately one third of the patients to whom they are administered. Though nerve cells do not reproduce themselves like cancer cells do, they do change electrical states quickly and are thus particularly susceptible to the effects of chemotherapeutic drugs.
The fast acting nerves are mistaken for fast growing neo-plasms. Chemotherapy has the effect of de-mineralizing the synaptic fluid, damaging the integrity of the nerve cells, and making it difficult for the ionization of the cell membranes to propagate the signal along the surface of the nerve. When ionization takes place, the outer membrane of the nerve cells change from positive to negative in a wave like motion taking a positive charge from one end of the nerve all the way to the other end. Chemotherapy is designed to interrupt the ability of the cell to control the permeability of the outer membrane and this process is electrically modulated. This electrical interruption is misapplied when the agent is in contact with the myelin sheath of a health, active nerve cell and causes the nerve cell to “short out” and inhibit the necessary different potentials in the nodes of the myelin sheath.
Cardiovascular Disease: By reducing the amount of blood that can perfuse the tissue of the lower legs and feet, cardiovascular disease can also cause neuropathy and chronic pain. When the arteries and veins become blocked, blood flow is reduced. One of the first symptoms is intermittent claudication which results in a reduction in the distance a patient can walk before the onset of localized leg pain due to reduced oxygen availability. Therefore, the muscle cells switch from aerobic metabolism to using anaerobic metabolism thereby creating greater than normal amounts of lactic acid, the by-product of muscle metabolism. The increased lactic acid collects in the cells causing inflammation and pain.
More information from David Phillps, PhD:
Neuropathy and chronic pain results when nerve signal propagation is reduced between adjacent nerve cells due to insufficient oxygen being available to support nerve cell metabolism. This is responsible for 90% of all neuropathy and chronic pain cases. The remaining 10% is caused by physical trauma. Thus it appears that the main precipitating factor for neuropathy and chronic pain is hypoxia and demineralization of the synaptic fluid which creates shrinkage of the nerve cells which widens the gap between these cells making it more difficult for normal sensations to propagate, and loss of electrical conductivity in the synaptic fluid itself.
A temporary hypoxia of nerve tissue can be traced to most causes of neuropathy and chronic pain. The primary negative effects of this hypoxia are as follows:
- A defensive contraction of the nerve cell resulting in oversize synaptic junctions
- A loss of electrical conductivity of the synaptic fluid between nerve cells
- A defensive change in the electrical potentials of the cell membrane resulting in a higher resting state of the trigger level which effectively limits the sensitivity to incoming signals
For example, when the lumbar area experiences a muscle spasm, blood flow is restricted through that muscle resulting in reduced oxygen availability to the surrounding tissue, including nerve cells. Because muscles can use either oxygen or glucose metabolic pathways, they can recover quickly from a temporary reduction in the level of available oxygen. Nerve cells, on the other hand, are limited to the Krebs oxidative reductive metabolic system and must take immediate defensive steps to assure survival during this hypo oxygen state. One of the ways they accomplish this is to contract along their longitudinal axis like a rubber band, reducing their surface area and thus lowering their need for oxygen. (This also occurs when these cells are attacked by a harsh agent in the blood such as chemotherapeutic drugs, Agent Orange, environmental toxins, insecticides, etc.) The synaptic junctions between the axons of one nerve cell and the dendrites of the next nerve cell widen. Normal nerve transmission is now compromised because a nerve signal of normal intensity cannot jump this newly widened gap. The synaptic fluid between the nerve cells must be electrically conductive. Pure water does not conduct electricity, so this conductivity relies on minerals and specific neurotransmitters such as serotonin in the synaptic fluid to enable the propagation of the nerve signal. These minerals are delivered via the perfusion of adjacent tissues with fresh blood and kept in suspension by the periodic ionization of successfully transmitted nerve signals across the junction. When nerve signals are reduced because of these larger dimensions of the synaptic junction, necessary minerals are no longer held in place by electrical tension and are slowly leeched out. This adds to the impairment of effective nerve transmission.
Common short term remedies with prescription drugs only ameliorate the pain temporarily and do little or nothing to mitigate or cure the underlying condition. They may provide some level of temporary relief, but as the disease progresses, the effective dosage of the drug needed to continue suppressing the pain increases concurrently. The side effects of these types of drugs are difficult to deal with and add to the patient’s discomfort. When the increased drug dosage reaches a threshold level, the patient can become confused, ataxic, constipated, confined to a wheelchair or may become bedridden. Symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s may soon follow. When nerve signals can no longer jump the enlarged synaptic gap, the electrical tension that normally holds these minerals in place is absent, causing the synaptic fluid to leach out its mineral content. Electrical conductivity is reduced, thereby inhibiting the transmission of the normal nerves’ electrical signals across this gap.
This is the most amazing part that I have discovered in my work with Dr. David Phillips. The common link in all of these peripheral neuropathies, regardless of the cause, appears to be hypoxia.
Hypoxia is simply a word that describes loss of oxygen. This occurs at what are called the neuronal junctions. That is, the areas in the human body where one nerve cell communicates to another.
At a simplistic level, nerve cells communicate electrochemically across a gap. In neuropathy caused by hypoxia, this neuronal gap widens, which is theorized to be responsible for the symptoms that include not only the burning and the tingling but the shooting pains as well.
With permission here is some information from David Phillps, PhD:
Neuropathy and chronic pain: The Condition
By David Phillps, PhD
Neuropathy and chronic pain is characterized by pain, numbness, loss of tactile feedback, and poor tissue perfusion. These symptoms may indicate that oxygen is not getting to all the cells causing dysfunction.
Because the patient’s quality of life is decreased, these results are often devastating. Pain medications do not cure the condition; it only helps mask it and, eventually, leads to complications with adverse side effects such as mental confusion and intestinal problems. As a result of conducting our own research and reviewing published studies from around the world, we have been led to new models concerning the causes of neuropathy and chronic pain. We have concluded that it is not reasonable to merely label neuropathy and chronic pain symptoms as diabetic, peripheral, vascular, or “idiopathic”. What is needed is a more full understanding of the etiology of the condition so new technology can be brought to bear with both ameliorative and therapeutic benefits.
Knowing if you have peripheral neuropathy should be very straightforward. Unfortunately, patients with peripheral neuropathy suffer greatly. In my experience and the experience of many physicians, patients have symptoms for years, which gradually build to a crescendo before they present to our offices.
These symptoms initially may include such things as mild loss of sensation of the hands and the feet, progressive worsening of tingling and numbness that will oftentimes wake the patient at night, or completely disturbed sleep.
We also find that many patients with peripheral neuropathy have a combination of these most annoying symptoms. This could include not only the presence of tingling and numbness but shooting pains. I have had many patients tell me that one of the most annoying symptoms, especially in colder climates, is the coolness of the feet as well as the (trophic) changes that occur in the skin. Sometimes, that is extreme dryness, cracking, fragility etc.
The diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy really is a diagnosis of exclusion. I tell my doctors this all the time. It is very important to have a doctor working with you, who is able to perform the most thorough evaluation possible, evaluate all most your records to make sure that all correctible causes of peripheral neuropathy have been addressed. If a root cause can be identified it should be addressed as completely as is medically and humanly possible.
A diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy is more about making sure of everything it’s not. Therefore, our client doctors who take care of peripheral neuropathy patients commonly work with many physicians of other disciplines. The reasons for this should be quite obvious. It is very important that all the things we spoke about earlier, such as family history, genetics, medication usage, etc are all accounted for.
We also have to be on the lookout for iatrogenically caused neuropathy from medical care such as chemotherapy for cancer or other illnesses.
Another area which concerns me greatly is when patients self-medicate with over-the-counter medications or maybe even herbal preparations that possibly could be contaminated with heavy metals or plant toxins. I strongly advise you to seek professional counseling before creating irreversible damage to your liver or kidneys.