Neuropathy is damage to the nerves which causes pain. It can be caused by diabetes, chemotherapy or is idiopathic (no known cause). Most neuropathy pain is in the hands and feet, but other areas can be affected. Symptoms typically include numbness, tingling, pins and needles and general discomfort and pain.
Some people with neuropathy have no symptoms at all, but the disease is discovered by chance during a medical visit. Many people have symptoms including numbness, tingling, extreme sensitivity to touch, muscle weakness, pins and needles and general discomfort and pain (often described as stabbing or burning pain). The problems are usually in the hands and or feet and can radiate up the limbs. Many people with neuropathy have substantial pain, which is often worse at night and plays havoc with their sleep. Longer term the numbness can increase the risk of falls, make it difficult to walk, make it difficult to detect injures to the hands and feet, lead to deformities (due to weakness), muscle atrophy and even foot ulcers.
Causes of Neuropathy in Western Medicine
Whilst there are a range of causes of neuropathy, those following are amongst the main ones:
Diabetic neuropathy – high blood glucose and lipid levels and the toxic by-products produced are believed to be the cause. Smoking, high blood pressure and obesity tend to make things worse.
Chemotherapy neuropathy – exposure to toxins.
Idiopathic neuropathy – no known cause.
Western Medicine Treatment
Most Western medical treatment centres around drug therapy by using antidepressants, anti-epileptics or if these fail opioids (can lead to dependence) in an attempt to control the pain. Treatment may also include increased awareness of the limbs involved to avoid injuries, better hygiene, correct foot ware, etc… Whilst these measures can be helpful, none of them address the key cause from a Chinese medicine perspective, although it may be a good idea for you to get scans to rule out herniated discs, tumours or other abnormalities.
Chinese Medicine Treatment
The reason for neuropathy according to Chinese medicine is poor blood flow and nutrient supply to the affected areas. This is in large part a neurological problem where the central brain is no longer doing its job. Chinese herbs increase the blood flow systemically and acupuncture reprograms the brain to do its job (that is to increase blood flow to the affected area which naturally delivers what is required to repair the area and reduce pain and symptoms).
What Should You Do Next?
We recommend that you book in for a 20 minute Free Health Consultation first to allow us to assess you and to see how we treat the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
If your neuropathy is really bothering you and affecting your life, book in for an initial appointment. You will soon know if we can help you or not and be on your way to feeling much better and getting on with your life.
If you have general muscle or joint pain then also see fibromyalgia.