Neuropathy and Chronic Pain – The Causes: Chemotherapeutic Agents and Cardiovascular Disease

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.

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