(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