Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulation (CES) for Pain Control and Other Issues

Used around the world for over 50 years, Cranial Electrical Stimulation (CES) is used for neurotransmitter balancing, mood control, IQ gains, sleep, exploration of altered states, peak performance, pain, anxiety, stress, depression and much more.

First, lets have some technical information: 

Most CES units (of which there are many) are considered: Class IIa. Type BF medical device generating microcurrent pulses which are thought to reach the brain via the auditory meatus. 

By placing either ‘electrical clip/electrodes’ on the earlobes, or small, sticky electrodes behind each ear, cranial stimulation sends a micro-current which helps to ‘balance’ the chemicals and reestablish optimal neurotransmitter levels in the brain.  CES differs from TENS stimulation; which is low-frequency and tends to just block nerve pain. Also known as ‘The Sleep Machine,’ cranial electrotherapy stimulation has been proven to help reduce stress and anxiety in patients, while allowing them to become drowsy. In addition, it has been proven useful (although, not yet FDA approved) in treating ADD, ADHD, PTSD, stage 1 hypertension, headache, tics from Tourette syndrome, Alzheimer symptoms and dementia, autism, and painful conditions of traumatic brain injury, cancer, dental pain or surgery, Parkinson’s disease and MS. CES is not electro-convulsive therapy, and has few side effects –  such as causing more lucid dreaming. Some contraindications, however, are:

  • Do not use this device if you are pregnant or lactating without first seeking advice from your doctor.
  • Do not use if you have a pacemaker (particularly demand type pacemakers) or other implanted bio-electric equipment without, again, first consulting your doctor.
  • There have been isolated reports of CES treatment lowering blood pressure so care should be taken while using CES in conjunction with high blood pressure medication. The same is true with other medications; who’s effectiveness may be ‘sped up.’ This has the advantage of being able to ‘reduce’ the dosage of some medications.

How often should one use a CES device? That is something that the patient should ask their doctor or neuropathist. If having dental work, we recommend taking the device into the dentist office with you to use during treatment. If treating at home for depression, it depends upon your symptoms; some patients use CES on an ‘as needed’ basis, where others may use it once, twice or three times per day. In our office, we will have patients use it while having other treatments; which can help them to relax or sleep through treatment. Or, for insomnia, most patients use CES an hour before going to bed. While treatment keeps most patients asleep, some people may wake up in the middle of the night and use the device again.

Depending upon the CES device, some MS or Parkinson’s patients may use it on a continuous basis to reduce tremors, drooling or to help bring back the power of speech. With the proper frequency, even facial atrophy and tongue numbness can be helped.

A ‘prescription only,’ device, CES can be purchased through an authorized distributor. Chico Holistic Healthcare can, either, use a device on you during treatment, monitor your use through our office, or help you obtain a prescription to own and use your device at home.

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What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

(Taken from a previous blog on a different site)

 

Peripheral Neuropathy: Simply put… ‘Peripheral:’ meaning the ‘outer most parts of the body; i.e., hands and feet. ‘Neuropathy: meaning, nerve dysfunction.’

Being the only ‘Holistic Neuropathist’ in Northern California (at the time of this writing), I get invited to lecture around our community a lot; as well as, invitations to speak all around the state. I’m James Skaug; not only a neuropathy patient myself, but a practitioner whom treats most forms of neuropathy and other nerve and muscle pain/numbness issues through non-drug, and generally ‘holistic/natural’ means and modalities. In future Posts, I’ll often refer to myself as a patient for example.

What is a neuropathist one might ask? If you look it up in the dictionary, like neuropathy was just a few years ago, it’s not listed. Looking it up on Google, one either finds my name or merely listings for neuropaths, naturalpaths or neurologists. But, unlike a neuropath, naturalpath or neurologist, a holistic neuropathist deals with not only treating the existing pain/nerve/muscle issues, but REBUILDING the nerves and atrophying muscles. We do this by treating with several different modalities; everything from nutrition, to massage, to neuromuscular stimulation, to whole body vibration, to anodyne or far wave infrared therapy, and more!

But, there is more to treating neuropathy than just ‘applying a therapy’ to it or taking a vitamin or pain pill! It is a very difficult process learned by the neuropathist to identify their symptoms; not only as a ‘neuropathy’ but the ‘kind’ of neuropathy in the first place.

There are over 100 different kinds of neuropathy identified by doctors and researchers; and new ones being found every day. Even carpal tunnel syndrome is now considered a neuropathy. What are the most common types? Of course, as previously mentioned, peripheral neuropathy – being the most commonly identified forms of dysfunction. But, there is, also, idiopathic neuropathy, focal neuropathy, proximal neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, sensorimotor neuropathy, age related neuropathies, mononeuropathies, polyneuropathies or even just ‘diabetic’ neuropathy…, which, also, takes in many of the afore mentioned neuropathy types.

Technically speaking, peripheral neuropathy is caused by a lack of oxygen (hypoxia) to the nerves and tissues. But, this lack of oxygen can be caused by many, many things. Many disorders can cause neuropathy, such as drug addiction, alcoholism, chemotherapy related issues, statin drugs and blood pressure meds, physical and emotional traumas, and etc.; even smoking or the onset of age can be responsible for a neuropathy. Fortunately or unfortunately, with so many different neuropathies and causes, most neuropathies are distilled down by the doctor, and even the neurologist, as being just ‘idiopathic’ neuropathy – meaning ‘of unknown origin.’ Unfortunately, most doctors are either unwilling or are too untrained to not only be able to ‘identify’ the neuropathy, as stemming from a disease such as diabetes, but even just to identify the ‘TYPE’ of neuropathy in the first place; i.e., is the neuropathy ‘short/small’ nerve related or is it ‘long’ nerve related? Does it make a difference? Of course it does; just like it makes a difference if one has type 1 or type 2 diabetes! How about hypoglycemia or either type of diabetes? All three disorders deal with the glucose or ‘sugar’ levels of the blood… high and low… again, of course it makes a difference! One would not ‘treat’ one disorder exactly as another; or else, why would we even distinguish between disorders?

Unfortunately, not all neurologists keep up with current innovations regarding the nerves and neuropathy. Like the term ‘neuropathist,’ neuropathy didn’t even appear in common dictionaries just 7 years ago. It’s a ‘keyword’now; and unfortunately, still, has become something of a ‘catch phrase’ for a lot of disorders when one is unsure of the disorder; with countless chiropractors purchasing ‘franchises’ to ‘treat’ peripheral neuropathy.  But, what they don’t realize is, just as type 1 and type 2 diabetes are different, each of the different neuropathy responds differently to treatment as well – not to mention every patient being different or reacting to treatment in different ways.

In the same sense, many doctors don’t properly identify neuropathy because it falls outside their range of training; choosing to blame the disorder on other issues. Sometimes, however, the “other issues” ARE the reason for the neuropathy. This is especially true with trauma issues to the lower back. Stepping back a bit to bring in more information and to use myself as an example, I have had peripheral neuropathy twice in my life. One was cured, one was not! Whereas, I often today tell people that “most likely, you did not develop this disorder overnight”… that is exactly what I did. I had my back broken and neck injured; and developed instant peripheral neuropathy. One year and 10 days later, I had surgery to correct the damage to the back and achieved an ‘INSTANT CURE’ for that neuropathy. Remember, I have said previously, that out of the over 100 different type of neuropathies out there, only a select few are curable. Mine was… trauma to the lower back, instant neuropathy; surgery to the lower back, Instant cure!

Some twenty years later in life, I developed peripheral neuropathy once again… pain, burning, numbness (something doctors said I couldn’t experience at the same time)… I could hardly walk. The ‘expert’ doctors looked at my back surgery history and proclaimed, “Oh, you’re just having more back issues again. What do you expect… you don’t have all the pieces back there anymore?” Being a neuropathist by this time myself, and running my own tests, I felt the answer lay elsewhere… in the form of diabetes. Seven different doctors all told me “nonsense” and wouldn’t even prescribe an HA1C test to look at my blood sugar levels. Instead, I was told I had, allergies, asthma, COPD, pneumonia, bronchitis, sensitivity to smoke (we had forest fires in our area that time), and even sudden aortic death syndrome…, all, before the last doctor I saw for the sudden aortic death syndrome (one smart cardiologist) asked: “Did you ever stop to think you might have diabetes?” “Yes,” I shouted, as I treated diabetics every day in my office and could see my patients’ very same symptoms in myself!

To make a long story short, he prescribed an HA1C test for me and my results came back that I was not only diabetic, I was VERY diabetic. The cardiologist felt that the pain and numbness I had in my feet was probably from the diabetes.  I concurred.  I, myself, had turned out to be just as I have told many of my diabetic patients for years; “most peripheral neuropathies appear 5 years BEFORE a diagnosis for diabetes is achieved.” So, like most of my own patients , I was a very common, ‘textbook’ case.

Unfortunately, none of the doctors I had seen, had ‘read’ that textbook like myself and the cardiologist had! Just as most doctors have had very little training or ‘book learning’ while in school about issues such as nutrition, most neurologists haven’t had very ‘up to date’ training in school in regard to new research on nerves; and don’t continue their education AFTER graduation to keep up with new procedures or modalities. Because of which, it is my recommendation, when a patient is seeking a neurologist, don’t look for the one who has been around the longest and has the best reputation, necessary; look for the NEW or YOUNG neurologist who has just finished school! Most likely, he/she is much more up to date on current nerve procedures. If nothing else, seek out the biggest and best and most experienced; but go to the new guy for a ‘second opinion!’

But, before ANY surgery is done or anything drastic such as toxic drugs be prescribed and taken, check out a neuropathist to see if the neuropathy can be reversed with something other than radical surgery or toxic drugs. Sometimes, the answer might be as simple as nutrition!

 

Next Blog: The New neuropathy Patient

 

 

Intake

Before we start an examination, we require some information just as with any doctor’s office. The neuropathist will, generally, either send by mail or email, a questioner to a new patient (or have them fill it out upon their first visit) in which they will ‘detail’ their medical history.

Often we hear:

“Why do you need to know this information, isn’t it rather ‘personal’ to ask about my medical history and medications; or if I have had any kind of injuries or diseases?” 

Frankly, no… it’s not too personal, when we are attempting to find out “why” the patient hurts!  It is not out of line to ask for a patient’s medical history, or even ask other so-called ‘personal’ questions, if one is trying to determine the type of neuropathy a patient might have… or, even to determine if the patient even HAS a true neuropathy (remember from past blogs, some issues like IBS may actually be autonomic neuropathy, or carpal tunnel, may or may not)!  Patients, most likely, wouldn’t go into a doctor’s office and tell the doctor “guess what is wrong with me,” they are going to give the doctor, hopefully, as much information as possible so he/she can make a good, educated determination as to the problem or disorder. The same is with the neuropathist!

Of course, most patients don’t mind or expect the obvious questions: “Do you have High Blood Pressure, are you a Diabetic, have you had any operations or injuries, and etc.”  But many times, questions don’t seem appropriate to the patient.  What kind of questions do people find ‘objectionable?’  “Have you ever been in the military?” 

“What would that have to do with anything,” we are often asked.  Well, if someone happens to be in their 60’s or so, it can help to determine ‘the reason’ for ones neuropathy.  Was the patient in Viet Nam? “Yes?”  Now, the possibility of exposure to Agent Orange comes into play!  Was the patient a pilot or airplane crew member during the war?  It gets rather cold high up in the sky… frostbite is not unheard of by pilots.

Other questions; “Are you or were you a skier?”  Same thing… possible frostbite at one time.  “Are you or were you a smoker?” Lots of objections on this question. Again, we hear, “what does that have to do with anything?  My lungs are not the issue here… it’s my feet that hurt!”  The issue is, that most peripheral neuropathy is caused by hypoxia, a lack of oxygen to the nerves and tissue via the blood. The hypoxia can have many root causes; but if one is a smoker, oxygen is being depleted to the tissue with every ‘puff’ the patient takes.  This can be easily seen in some smoker’s legs and feet. The tissue takes on a ‘blue’ or ‘purple’ coloration.  This is poor circulation, pure and simple; and poor circulation means less oxygen to the tissue. To reiterate, hypoxia may be the ‘root of the problem’ for the neuropathy; but ‘smoking’ may be the ‘root of the problem’ for the hypoxia!

Questions about legal and illegal drugs, now, need to come into play.  Again, we are not being nosey, nor are we looking to ‘turn in’ anyone one for illegal drug use.  But, we NEED to know about any self-medicating issues, as so many drugs can cause neuropathy; and/or treatment for drug addiction can also be responsible (not surprisingly, with ‘Baby Boomers, doctors and surgeons are finding that some patients still have drug addictions stemming from back in the 1960’s; and those addictions must be taken care of before surgery or treatment can take place. We neuropathists see the same issues… and, the addiction can be the ‘root issue,’ once again.) for many symptoms. 

As an added feature to treatment, however, if we know the patient has a drug addiction, we can possibly help with that as well – or, help the patient find the help they need.  In the same sense, if one is taking legal or prescription drugs, we need to look at the side effects of those compounds to see if they contribute to ones neuropathy.  Statin drugs for high cholesterol are very common culprits of this; but luckily, there are plenty of ‘natural statin’s’ one can take to reduce ones cholesterol.  In addition, depending upon some modalities, they might help to reduce not only cholesterol, but blood sugar or blood pressure as well.  If we know exactly what the patient is taking, again, we can make a more informed determination as to the best modality to use or what issue to address; as well as how to best address nutrition.

One more question that people seem to have an objection to sharing, especially if a younger patient, is:  if one has a pacemaker or defibrillator or not. Older patients don’t seem to mind answering this one, but younger ones do, as they seem to feel there is something of a ‘stigma’ of some kind associated with it.  Of course, there is not; but we do need to know, as there are certain contraindications (meaning it could be unwise to do) that accompany the patients’ device.

Next, is probably the most embarrassing: ‘bathroom habits!’  No, we really don’t want to know… but we may HAVE TO know to make certain determinations. For example, many patients present with, not only, a idiopathic neuropathy diagnosis, but with irritable bowel syndrome as well.  “How long have you had the Neuropathy or diagnosis of Neuropathy” we ask? Then, “how long have you had the Irritable Bowel syndrome?” If their answer is “20 or more years,” then we look at that irritable bowel just a bit differently. We consider the possibility of, the afore mentioned, autonomic neuropathy – in other words, neuropathy of the internal organs; which brings about even more questions for the Intake! “Do you get diarrhea when you go out to eat?  Do things like Thousand Island Salad Dressing bother you?  Does Gluten bother you?”  If the answer is “yes” to those questions, the person is more likely – not definitive, but more likely – to actually have irritable bowel syndrome.  If not, and the diarrhea appears at any time, or after eating just about anything… and/or incontinence is involved, we then start looking towards meds to make sure “loose bowels” are not a side effect from certain medication.

It is only through a complete Intake, and medical history, that we can make proper determinations as to the patients neuropathy and treatment.  It’s not being “nosey”… we have a genuine “need to know!”  And, because of that need to know, we are more likely to find the correct ‘modality of treatment’ for your neuropathy!

 

Next Blog: Examination and Testing

Ask the Neuropathist!

Welcome to Ask the Neuropathist.

Neuropathists treat pain, burning, numbness, tingling and other issues; generally, associated with Peripheral, Autonomic, Proximal, Focal or Sensorimotor neuropathy; however, there are many more forms of neuropathy with other symptoms as well.

This page offers two ways to ask questions: either, questions in general for us to put into our Blog, or “Quick/Short Questions;” for “Ask the Grumpy Neuropathist!”

This site is not intended to diagnose or give medical advice in any way, shape or form. It is strictly to be used as an informative site to help explain some of the ‘myths’ regarding neuropathy, and actual treatments/modalities which are available through some doctors, neuropathists or physical therapists.