Let’s talk about something that can be quite a pain in … well, just about anywhere, really. That’s right, we’re diving into the world of neuropathy pain!
Neuropathic pain can make you feel like you’re walking on a bed of nails or wearing an invisible cloak made of electric shocks. But, here’s the thing, you don’t have to just grin and bear it. There’s a hero in this story, and it goes by the name of chiropractic therapy!
Now, you might be thinking, aren’t chiropractors only supposed to crack backs? Well, they do a whole lot more than that. They’re like detectives of the body, and they’ve got the skills to hunt down the culprits behind your neuropathy pain!
Once they’ve figured out what’s causing your discomfort, these vertebrae virtuosos get to work to relieve pain in ways that might just make you want to do a happy dance (or at least a pain-free walk around the block). So, if you’re ready to take the next step towards a more comfortable life, let’s explore how chiropractic therapy can help kick your neuropathy pain to the curb!
What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a medical term that might sound a bit complicated, but in reality, it’s not that bad. “Neuro” relates to your nerve cells, and “pathy” comes from the Greek word for experience or suffering. It’s essentially when your nerves aren’t feeling too great.
Your body’s nervous system is divided into two main parts:
- The central nervous system (your brain and spinal cord).
- The peripheral nervous system (pretty much all the other nerves in your body).
Neuropathy often refers to peripheral neuropathy, meaning the nerves outside of your brain and spinal cord are causing some trouble.
These nerves fulfill all sorts of different jobs, like helping you feel things with your skin, telling your muscles when and how to move, and keeping your heart rate and digestion on track. When these nerves start to suffer, a wide range of symptoms will kick in. Some patients report chronic pain or a constant feeling of numbness in their hands and feet. Others feel weak or have trouble moving. It can even mess with your blood pressure or cause digestive problems!
The Different Types of Neuropathy
Each type of neuropathy affects your body in different ways, but they all come down to the same thing: your nerves are having a bit of a rough time. If you think you’re dealing with neuropathy, definitely get in touch with a healthcare provider. They’ll help you figure out what’s going on and how to deal with it!
First up, you’ve got peripheral neuropathy, the most common type. It usually starts off with a bit of tingling or numbness in your hands or feet, spreading over time to your arms or legs. Sometimes, peripheral neuropathy can feel like you’re wearing a glove or a sock when you’re not!
Next is proximal neuropathy, also known as diabetic amyotrophy. This type of neuropathy causes pain in your hips, thighs, or buttocks, usually on one side of the body. It can also lead to muscle weakness, making it hard to stand up from a sitting position. It’s more common in older people and patients with type 2 diabetes.
Then there’s autonomic neuropathy. This type’s a bit different because it’s about the nerves that control your internal organs (that is, your heart, bladder, stomach, intestines, reproductive organs, and eyes). Autonomic neuropathy messes with a bunch of things, like your blood pressure, digestion, bladder control, and sexual function.
Focal neuropathy has a sudden onset, affecting a single nerve, typically in your wrist, thigh, or foot. It also attacks nerves in your face and eyes, which may cause some serious pain levels.
Last but not least, there’s mononeuropathy, which is basically when only one of your peripheral nerves is having a hard time. You might feel it in your hand, like carpal tunnel syndrome, or it could cause issues with your eye or facial muscles.
What are the Underlying Causes of Neuropathy?
Right off the bat, there can be lots of reasons why your nerves might start acting up!
One of the most common culprits is diabetes. Experiencing high blood sugar levels for too long can cause damage to your nerves over time. That’s why it’s so important to manage this disease accordingly.
Your nerves need certain vitamins to function properly, especially B vitamins, vitamin E, and niacin. So if you’re not getting enough of these, your nerves might start to protest.
Some infections and immune system disorders can also cause neuropathy. Things like Lyme disease, shingles, or HIV can mess with your nerves. Also, autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, where your immune system mistakenly attacks your own tissues, can lead to nerve damage.
Then there are inherited disorders like Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. If you’ve got one of these conditions, your genes make you more susceptible to developing neuropathy.
Exposure to toxins is another biggie. Being regularly in contact with heavy metals (like lead and mercury) or industrial chemicals can lead to neuropathy. This is also why long-term alcohol abuse can cause nerve damage — alcohol is a toxin, and too much of it over time can hurt your nerves.
Sometimes, the cause of neuropathy can be a bit of a mystery. That’s called idiopathic neuropathy, which is a fancy way of saying, “We’re not sure why this is happening.”
What are the Manifestations of Neuropathic Pain?
Neuropathic pain can become apparent anywhere in your body! However, that doesn’t mean your entire body will succumb to unending aches. Here’s a rundown of some symptoms you might experience due to neuropathy:
- Sharp, stabbing pain: This isn’t your typical dull ache. It can feel like sudden jabs of pain, like you’re being pricked with needles.
- Burning pain: Some people describe this as a feeling of being on fire, or a hot or cold sensation.
- Tingling or numbness: It’s that pins-and-needles feeling you get when your foot falls asleep, but it doesn’t go away.
- Increased sensitivity: You might find that even the lightest touch or the feeling of your clothes against your skin can cause discomfort or pain (also called allodynia).
- Shooting pain: This pain might travel along the path of the affected nerve, like an electric shock.
- Loss of balance or coordination: If the nerves in your legs are affected, it might be harder to keep your balance.
How is Neuropathy Diagnosed?
It all starts when you go into your doctor’s office and tell them about the symptoms you’ve been having. They will ask you a bunch of questions about your symptoms, like:
- When they started
- What they feel like
- If anything makes them better or worse
They’ll also want to know about your medical history and whether you have any neuropathy-causing conditions.
Then comes the physical exam. Your doctor will see if they can find any physical signs of neuropathy. They might check your reflexes, your muscle strength, and your ability to feel certain sensations.
Now, if your doctor thinks you have neuropathy, they’ll probably order some tests to confirm the diagnosis and figure out what’s causing it. This means blood tests to check for things like vitamin deficiencies or signs of diabetes, or maybe a nerve conduction study (NCS), where they use electrodes to see how your nerves are functioning.
There’s also a test called electromyography (or EMG for short) that can show how well your muscles are working. And in some cases, your doctor might even want to take a small sample of your nerve tissue to look at under a microscope, which is called a nerve biopsy.
While it might seem like a lot, all these tests and exams are super important in helping your doctor figure out what’s going on and how to best help you manage your neuropathy symptoms!
Can Chiropractic Care Treat Neuropathy?
The answer isn’t a simple yes or no, because it really depends on your specific situation.
Chiropractors are experts in everything pertaining to the musculoskeletal and the nervous systems. They use a variety of treatment options, including spinal manipulation, to help improve the function of your nervous system and the alignment of your spine.
Now, when it comes to neuropathy, the most important thing is to figure out what’s causing it. If it’s due to something like a herniated disc pressing on a nerve, then a chiropractor will help by realigning the spine and taking pressure off the nerve.
But, if your neuropathy is caused by something like diabetes or a vitamin deficiency, then seeing a chiropractor alone probably won’t be enough. You’ll need to address the underlying issue, which might involve medication or lifestyle changes.
That said, chiropractic care can often complement other treatments and help manage symptoms of neuropathy like pain or muscle weakness. Many neuropathy patients find that regular chiropractic care helps them feel better overall!
But remember, every patient is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. So, if you’re considering seeing a chiropractor for neuropathy, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor first. They can help guide you on what treatments might be most effective for you!
Enjoy Excellent Chiropractic Care for Neuropathy at Bergen Chiropractic!
At Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, adheres to the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. Our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Access our contact form or call us at (201) 945-4075 to learn more about our chiropractic treatment services! Our chiropractic offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601, are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD, areas. Also, feel free to access our blog, Facebook, and Instagram pages for more information on chiropractic treatments!
- “Neuropathic Pain: What It Is, Causes, Treatment.” Cleveland Clinic, my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/15833-neuropathic-pain. Accessed 9 May 2023.
- “Peripheral Neuropathy.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.ninds.nih.gov/health-information/disorders/peripheral-neuropathy. Accessed 9 May 2023.
- “Peripheral Neuropathy.” JHM, 8 Aug. 2021, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/peripheral-neuropathy. Accessed 9 May 2023.