Peripheral Neuropathy and Your Quality of Life

Peripheral Neuropathy and Your Quality of Life

There are things you can do to lessen the physical (and emotional) effects of peripheral neuropathy and help you function as normally as possible!

If you’re suffering from peripheral neuropathy, you know how much it affects your life.

Every single day…

Senior Couple Sitting In ParkEven the simplest tasks can be difficult if not impossible…

To anyone unfamiliar with peripheral neuropathy and its symptoms, they might just think “your nerves hurt a little…”

But at a peripheral neuropathy sufferer, you know better…

Peripheral neuropathy not only affects your health, it can wreck your quality of life.

How Do You Define Quality of Life?

Generally speaking, Quality of Life is a term used to measure a person’s overall well-being. In medical terms, it usually means how well a patient has adapted to a medical condition.  It measures[1]:

  • Your physical and material well being
  • Your social relationships – how you interact with others
  • Your social activities
  • Your personal fulfillment – your career, any creative outlets you may have, how involved you are with other interests)
  • Your recreational activities – your hobbies, sports, etc.
  • Your actual health – what your health is really like and how healthy you believe you are

How do you feel about these aspects of your life?  Your attitude and approach to your illness, both your neuropathy and the underlying cause of your neuropathy (i.e., diabetes, HIV/AIDS, lupus, etc.) can make a huge difference in how well you adapt to your neuropathy symptoms.

Neuropathy Symptoms Aren’t Just Physical

The pain of peripheral neuropathy falls into the category of what is considered chronic pain.  It usually doesn’t just come and go.  You can’t just pop a couple of aspirin and forget about it.  It’s pain with its root cause in nerve damage.

The nerves that actually register pain are the actual cause of the pain.  When you’re in that kind of pain on a consistent basis, it affects you in many different ways[2]:

  • You become depressed and/or anxious
  • Your productivity and interest at work is disrupted
  • You can’t sleep
  • It’s difficult for you to get out and interact with other people so you feel isolated
  • You sometimes don’t understand why you’re not getting better

What You Can Do To Improve Your Quality of Life

You may feel like your situation is hopeless, especially if you’ve become mired in depression.

But it isn’t.

There are things you can do to lessen the physical (and emotional) effects of peripheral neuropathy and help you function as normally as possible:

  • Pay special attention to caring for your feet.  Inspect them daily for cuts, pressure spots, blisters or calluses (use a mirror to look at the bottom of your feet). The minute you notice anything out of the ordinary, call your doctor or your local NeuropathyDR® clinician for help.  Never go barefoot – anywhere.
  • Treat yourself to a good foot massage to improve your circulation and reduce pain.  Check with your insurance company – if massage is actually prescribed by your doctor, they may cover some of the cost.
  • Only wear shoes that are padded, supportive and comfortable and never wear tight socks.
  • If you smoke, quit.  Nicotine decreases circulation and if you’re a peripheral neuropathy patient, you can’t risk that.
  • Cut back on your caffeine intake.  Several studies have found that caffeine may actually make neuropathy pain worse.
  • If you sit at a desk, never cross your knees or lean on your elbows.  The pressure will only make your nerve damage worse.
  • Be really careful when using hot water.  Your peripheral neuropathy may affect the way you register changes in temperature and it’s really easy for you to burn yourself and not even realize it.
  • Use a “bed cradle” to keep your sheets away from your feet if you experience pain when trying to sleep.  That will help you rest.
  • Try to be as active as possible.  Moderate exercise is great for circulation and it can work wonders for your emotional and mental health.
  • Make your home as injury proof as possible – install bath assists and/or hand rails and never leave anything on the floor that you can trip over.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet.  If you don’t know what you should and shouldn’t eat, talk to your NeuropathyDR® clinician about a personalized diet plan to maintain proper weight and give your body what it needs to heal.
  • Try to get out as often as possible to socialize with others.

We hope this information helps you to better manage your peripheral neuropathy symptoms.  Take a look at the list above and see how many of these things you’re already doing to help yourself. Then talk to your local NeuropathyDR® clinician about help with adding the others to your daily life.

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Manual Therapies for Your Diabetic Neuropathy

Manual Therapies for Your Diabetic Neuropathy

If you have diabetes and one or more of these symptoms[1]:

Chiropractic care for diabetic neuropathy patients usually concentrates on correcting misalignments in the spine.

  • Diarrhea, nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Deep pain, especially in your legs and feet
  • Loss of sensation and ability to feel warmth or cold
  • Muscle cramps
  • Numbness, tingling or burning in your arms, hands, legs or feet
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness, especially when you try to stand up
  • Drooping facial muscles
  • Loss of bladder control

You’ve probably been diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy.

Your doctor has probably explained that diabetic neuropathy is peripheral neuropathy specific to patients who have diabetes and that diabetic neuropathy is caused by lack of blood flow to the nerves and elevated and uncontrolled blood sugar levels.

You’re probably taking painkillers…

You’re probably closely monitoring your blood sugar (hopefully)…

You’re probably being more careful about your diet (as you should)…

So how are your diabetic neuropathy symptoms now?

If they’re not improving, you might want to add something else to your treatment plan…

Chiropractic and Manual Physical Therapy Treatments for Diabetic Neuropathy

Chiropractic care for diabetic neuropathy patients usually concentrates on correcting misalignments in the spine.  Those misalignments can wreak havoc on your nervous system and your internal organs – including the pancreas, a direct link to diabetes.

If the other pieces of your treatment puzzle are not working as quickly as you had hoped, and you’re doing everything else your doctor tells you to do, contact your local NeuropathyDR® specialist.  Your NeuropathyDR® has an exclusive treatment protocol with proven results for diabetic neuropathy patients.  An integral part of that treatment protocol is chiropractic adjustment to correct problems with your spinal alignment.

Pain Reduction and Nerve Repair

As a result of your chiropractic adjustment for diabetic neuropathy, the next step in your treatment for diabetic neuropathy is taking steps to reduce your symptoms and help the nerves repair themselves.  This can be done through a combination of topical pain medications, manual manipulation of the bones and joints to properly align the nervous system and nerve stimulation.

Proper alignment of the bones and muscles and nerve stimulation are all important aspects of successful treatment of diabetic neuropathy.

Personal Care Tips For The Diabetic Neuropathy Patient

Diabetes is the fifth deadliest disease in the United States and the number of people diagnosed with diabetes is growing at an alarming rate.

One of the things that makes diabetes so deadly is the risk for infection and resulting amputation.  Diabetic neuropathy is a serious contributing factor in the risk for amputation.

While you’re undergoing treatment for diabetic neuropathy[2] and having chiropractic adjustments, pay particular attention to your feet, hands, arms and leg.  Contact your NeuropathyDR® specialist immediately if you notice any blisters, sores, torn skin, or inflammation.   The combination of your diabetes and your diabetic neuropathy can lead to very serious infections that are slow or impossible to heal.   This can lead to dire complications that can be avoided if you receive the proper medical treatment early.

Do a visual inspection and don’t rely on soreness or pain.  Your diabetic neuropathy impairs your ability to feel pain in your extremities and you may not notice the problem until it’s too late for successful treatment.

Keep a close eye on your diabetes.  Make note of any of the symptoms we described.  If you have any of the issues we’ve discussed, contact your local NeuropathyDR® and take full advantage of their expertise in the treatment of peripheral neuropathies, including diabetic neuropathy and their ability to provide chiropractic care to correct misalignment in your spine.

The positive effects of chiropractic adjustment on diabetic neuropathy are being affirmed by a growing number of case studies.  Give it serious consideration in treating your diabetic neuropathy.

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


Flu Vaccine and Peripheral Neuropathy

Flu Vaccine and Peripheral Neuropathy

It’s that time of year again…

For the average, healthy person getting a flu shot is a no-brainer.

Pre-flu season…

And everywhere you look are signs advertising “Flu Shots – Walk Ins Welcome” or “Get Your Flu Shot Today.”

For the average, healthy person getting a flu shot is a no-brainer.

After all, the flu accounts for 200,000 hospitalizations every year and up to 36,000 deaths.  If you can take a shot and avoid that, why wouldn’t you?

But if you have peripheral neuropathy caused by

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer (and you’re undergoing chemotherapy)
  • Shingles
  • HIV/AIDS or some other immune system disorder
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Gluten sensitivity (also known as celiac disease)
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Hereditary neuropathy

You may think that a flu shot isn’t for you.

HIV patients tend to be especially skeptical about receiving the vaccine.

If you have peripheral neuropathy caused by any of these underlying illnesses, you need to make an informed choice about whether or not to get a flu shot.

This is what you need to know.

The Flu Vaccine Will Not Actually Make You Sick

Contrary to urban myth, the flu vaccine will not make you sick.  It works by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies that actually fight the virus. It does not give you the flu.

You also need to know that there is no evidence that the flu shot will make your neuropathy symptoms worse if your neuropathy is caused by any of the underlying illnesses we listed above.  In fact, the Centers for Disease Control strongly recommends that peripheral neuropathy patients with any of these illnesses receive a flu shot every year because they’re more prone to developing serious complications if they get the flu.

A Word of Caution for Guillain-Barre Syndrome or CIDP Patients

If your peripheral neuropathy is caused by Guillain-Barre Syndrome or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP), talk to your NeuropathyDR clinician or other medical professional before you receive the flu vaccine.

Because the vaccine keeps you from getting the flu by tricking your immune system into producing antibodies to fight it off,  if you have neuropathy caused by Guillain-Barre Syndrome or CIDP,  this immune stimulation may actually cause a relapse in patients with a history of either of these illnesses.

If you have had Guillain-Barre Syndrome and the resultant peripheral neuropathy in the past, it might be a good idea to wait at least one year after your symptoms are gone before you receive the flu shot.

If you have CIDP and your symptoms are still present, you might want to avoid the flu vaccine.  Talk to your NeuropathyDR clinician or other medical professional and consider the chances of complications from the vaccine as opposed to the health risks of actually getting the flu.  Take into account:

  • Advanced age
  • Other chronic medical conditions
  • Possible relapse triggered by getting the flu virus

Who Should Get a Flu Shot?

The Centers for Disease Control recommends that you receive the flu shot every year if you fall into any of these groups:

  • You’re six months to 19 years old
  • You’re 50 years of age or older
  • You have a chronic medical condition (lung, heart, liver or kidney disease, blood disorders, diabetes)
  • You live in a nursing home or other long term care facility
  • You live with or care for someone at high risk for complications from the flu (healthcare workers, people in your household (i.e., children too young to be vaccinated or people with chronic medical conditions)

In the end, the decision to get the flu shot or take a pass on it is up to you.  Talk to your NeuropathyDR clinician or other medical professional before you make your decision and do what’s best for you.

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

Do You Have Peripheral Neuropathy?

Do You Have Peripheral Neuropathy?

If you have

Chemotherapy Neuropathy Responds Exceptionally Well To NeuropathyDR Care

Diabetics are not the only people susceptible to peripheral neuropathy in their feet and hands.

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer (and you’re undergoing chemotherapy)
  • Shingles
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Guillain-Barre Syndrome
  • Exposure to toxins

 

You have a pretty good idea of what to expect from your disease. Your doctor has probably given you a list of symptoms that you’re likely to experience, if you’re not experiencing them already.

But if in addition to the symptoms you were expecting, you’re having[1]

  • Swelling in your feet, legs or hands
  • Muscle cramps in your legs
  • Changes in your skin and nails
  • Numbness in your feet and hands
  • Inability of feel heat or cold
  • Sleepless nights due to pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Painful burning and itching in your hands or feet
  • Feeling like you’re wearing gloves or socks when you’re not

 

You could be developing another symptom that your doctor might not have told you about.

And it could cause permanent nerve damage.

You could have peripheral neuropathy in your feet and/or hands.

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy[2] is a condition that develops when your peripheral nerves are damaged. That damage can occur because of your diabetes, as a result of toxic chemotherapy, nerves being damaged by shingles, a lack of oxygen to the nerves caused by some other underlying condition or even as a result of HIV.

If you have the symptoms listed above, the nerves in your hands and feet have probably been damaged by your illness.

Granted, when you’re dealing with the debilitating effects of diabetes or cancer or HIV/AIDS, peripheral neuropathy may sound like nothing to really worry about.

But you know how miserable it is to have constant nerve pain…to be unable to feel the simplest sensation in your hands and feet…or on the opposite end of the spectrum, to go to bed at night and be so hypersensitive that even the sheets touching your hands and feet is torture.

How Serious is Hand/Foot Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy can be very serious. How many diabetic patients have you seen with amputations below the knee?

Those amputations are usually caused by damage to the circulatory and nervous system caused by their diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy plays a big part in these complications.

Diabetics are not the only people susceptible to peripheral neuropathy in their feet and hands. If you are taking chemotherapy, if you have HIV/AIDS, if you’ve had shingles, or even if you’ve had some other infectious disease, you’re a candidate for peripheral neuropathy.

The damage caused by peripheral neuropathy can be so gradual that you don’t think much about it.

One day you have a small cut on one of your feet. The nerves in your feet are damaged so you don’t really feel it and you don’t know it’s there if you don’t pay really close attention to the condition of your feet.

That small wound becomes infected. Your immune system and circulatory system are compromised so the tissue doesn’t heal properly. Before you know it, you have a serious infection and you lose your foot.

You’re a little less likely to have that problem with your hands simply because you see them all the time and you’re much more likely to notice if something is wrong. That means you’ll seek treatment faster.

What To Do If You Think You’re Developing Peripheral Neuropathy
The first thing you need to do is make sure your treating physician is aware of the problems you’re having with your feet and hands. Then you can take steps to help yourself.

First, find a local medical professional specializing in treating patients with peripheral neuropathy, like a NeuropathyDR® clinician. Make an appointment as soon as possible.

To get ready for your appointment –

  • Make note of what your underlying conditions are
  • Make a list of all medications you take
  • Write down when you first noticed your symptoms
  • Write down all of your symptoms
  • Write down what your typical daily diet looks like

 

Get started with treatment as quickly as possible to avoid additional nerve damage and possibly even reverse the damage that’s already there. Your NeuropathyDR® clinician will work with you to treat your symptoms, adjust your diet if you’re not eating like you should in light of your underlying condition and give you information and help on coping with the effects of peripheral neuropathy.

It’s critical that you seek treatment immediately.

For more information on determining whether or not you have peripheral neuropathy and how to cope with it if you do, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at https://neuropathydr.com.

[1] http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/detail_peripheralneuropathy.htm
[2] http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/peripheral-neuropathy/DS00131/METHOD

Exercising Caution With Autonomic Neuropathy

Exercising Caution With Autonomic Neuropathy

If you’ve been diagnosed with autonomic neuropathy[1], you know you’re at risk for some serious medical issues.

Exercise can help control the symptoms of your underlying illness and by doing that, you can help lessen the symptoms of your autonomic neuropathy.

Autonomic neuropathy (i.e., nerve damage to the autonomic nervous system) can affect every system in the body, especially:

  • Cardiovascular – your heart, blood pressure and circulation
  • Respiratory
  • Gastrointestinal – your digestion, ability to ability to empty your bowels
  • Genitourinary – erectile dysfunction and loss of bladder control

While you’re dealing some or all of these issues, exercise may not be on your radar.

But it should be.

Exercise can help control the symptoms of your underlying illness (whatever caused your autonomic neuropathy) and by doing that, you can help lessen the symptoms of your autonomic neuropathy.

But a word of caution is in order here.

The very nature of your autonomic neuropathy can affect the systems that are most sensitive to the effects of exercise.  Any exercise program you begin should be designed and monitored by a medical professional well versed in the effects of autonomic neuropathy, like your NeuropathyDR® clinician.

Use Vs. Disuse

When you’re thinking about starting an exercise program[2] and you’re thinking about how dangerous it can be, you also need to consider the effects of not starting an exercise program.  The effects of not exercising are called “disuse syndrome”.  If your level of activity seriously out of synch with your level of inactivity, you can develop:

  • Decreased physical work capacity
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Negative nitrogen and protein balance
  • Cardiovascular deconditioning
  • Pulmonary restrictions
  • Depression

The effects of any of these symptoms of disuse syndrome in combination with your autonomic neuropathy symptoms can make a bad situation even worse.

What You Need To Think About Before You Start Exercising

Think about what happens to your body when you exercise.

Your heart rate increases, your breathing becomes labored, you sweat.

Every single one of those results is controlled by the autonomic nervous system.  Autonomic neuropathy can seriously impact how your body responds to the stimulus of exercise.  And your body may not react as it should.

  • Heart rate – If your autonomic neuropathy affects your cardiovascular system, you need to make sure that your exercise program is designed and monitored by your NeuropathyDR® clinician. Your autonomic neuropathy can lead to abnormal heart rate, inability to properly regulate blood pressure and redistribution of blood flow.  Your cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy may cause you to have a higher resting rate and lower maximal heart rates during exercise.
  • Blood pressure – Blood pressure response with posture change and during exercise is abnormal in patients with cardiovascular autonomic neuropathy.  Postural hypotension, defined as a drop in blood pressure may be seen.  This can mean that the blood pressure doesn’t react normally during exercise.  Symptoms are similar to hypoglycemia and may be mistaken for a drop in blood glucose even though it’s actually a drop in blood pressure.  Patients should be alerted to the potential confusion in these symptoms and instructed to check blood glucose before treating for hypoglycemia.
  • Sweating and Disruption of Blood Flow – Autonomic neuropathy may reduce or even eliminate your ability to sweat.  The loss of sweating, especially in your feet, can cause dry, brittle skin on the feet and you can develop skin ulcers.  It can also make it more difficult for your body to respond to cold and heat. You need to make sure that you’re taking proper care of your feet before and during any exercise program.  Make sure your shoes fit properly and examine your feet regularly to make sure you don’t have any sores, cracks or ulcers.

Autonomic neuropathy can have a serious effect on the very systems in the body that are directly affected by exercise.  Make sure you talk to your local NeuropathyDR® clinician before you start an exercise program and let them monitor your progress.

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