Peripheral Neuropathy is becoming a more frequently diagnosed condition. In fact, in our podiatry practice in Houston, TX we see doctors using this diagnosis when they can't figure out what is causing numbness or pain.
Now, that's bad enough for patients who want relief from symptoms like burning pain and numbness. But things get even worse. Because, after blaming everything on peripheral neuropathy, they make a pretty bad follow up statement after. That's when they tell their patients that there is nothing that you do for this condition. And yet, that's just not true. Because there are ways we can address the symptoms of these days. First, we have to understand what causes this form of nerve damage.
What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?
Circulation problems are a common cause of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. When blood sugar levels rise in your blood, they can damage the small vessels that deliver blood to the nerves. In turn, this reduces the amount of oxygen and blood reaching the nerves. Next, the nerves react to this damage, becoming numb or causing painful symptoms like burning or tingling.
Matters can get worse if you combine several conditions. Patients who have peripheral neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease can are at risk for deadly complications. And these include foot ulcers, gangrene, and even limb loss.
Now, peripheral neuropathy is a very common among diabetic patients. As we mentioned, high blood sugar levels can cause nerve damage. Plus, since many diabetics experience problems with microvascular circulation, they also have less blood flow to the nerves. And that can make symptoms even worse.
But neuropathy is not excusive to diabetes. In fact, there are many other potential causes. Chemotherapy can cause neuropathy, which often continues after treatment stops. Alcoholism can also cause neuropathy. Unfortunately, there are also many forms of neuropathy that we can't attribute to a particular disease. But that doesn't mean we can't offer treatment for neuropathy in legs and feet.
Treatment for Neuropathy in Legs and Feet
Once nerves sustain damage, it's tough to reverse that damage. But that doesn't mean we can't relieve your symptoms. First, we can help relieve the pain and numbness from neuropathy with several different pharmaceuticals.
Neurontin, Lyrica, and Cymbalta are a few of the better known and used medications. These are antidepressant medications that have an effect to moderate nerve pain. But there's a catch with these options. They often cause unwanted and harmful side effects. And that means people have to choose between taking their medications and having relief or feeling exhausted and cloudy all day.
Fortunately, there are better options available. And one of them is medical foods. Sounds crazy, right? How could a snack relieve nerve pain? Here's the story. Medical foods are specially formulated supplements. They're intended managing diseases with distinctive nutritional needs when they can't be met with a normal diet alone. In podiatry, two medical foods we commonly use are Neuremedy and Metanx.
Treatment for Neuropathy in Feet and Legs: Medical Foods
Neuremedy is a fat soluble form of Thiamine (Vitamin B1). Thiamine deficiency is well-documented in those who can suffer from neuropathy, such as diabetics and the elderly. Resolving a thiamine deficiency can result in resolving the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. Neuremedy delivers a bioactive form of thiamine that is readily absorbed and used by the body. I recommend that people try a two month course of Neuremedy to assess how effective it works. Neuremedy is dispensed from the office by many podiatrists.
Metanx is another medical food. We use it to meet nutritional requirements for diabetic patients with peripheral neuropathy. How does this option work? Metanx regulates homocysteine. By doing so, it helps the blood vessels produce a natural vasodilator [widener] called nitric oxide. As a result, blood flow increases in the vessels. And that helps them carry important nutrients and oxygen to the nerves. For many patients, this effect relieves the symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy. Metanx is available at all pharmacies by prescription.
These are just two options for managing your neuropathy symptoms. But there are more in the works. Including one new. promising option that the FDA just approved.
Tech Related Treatment for Neuropathy in Feet and Legs
Early in 2023, the FDA approved a new spinal cord stimulation system (SCS), called Proclaim XR. It's used to treat diabetic neuropathy pain.
Here's how the SCS system works: the neurostimulator is implanted during an outpatient surgery. Then, it delivers small vibrations or stimulations to your spine, stopping pain signals before they reach your brain. In this way, your painful neuropathy symptoms improve.
This new device represents a novel approach to treating neuropathy. In the past, your options were medications with side effects or better managing your disease. (Which you should still try to do.) But now, neurostimulators are an new option. Developers say they offer lasting pain relief, with fewer side effects.
While Proclaim XR is not the first neurotransmitter, it appears to be a solid option. According to clinical studies, this device helps limit the psychological impact of chronic pain. It also improved the physical, mental and emotional quality of life.
Even better, Proclaim XR isn't a totally new device. In 2019, the FDA approved this device for chronic pain treatment. As such, it's been used safely for several years. And now, using it for diabetic neuropathy is just a new treatment option. Plus, it's a pretty cool one, since the device connects to the NeuroSphere Virtual Clinic. Available in the App store, this 'clinic' helps patients and healthcare providers communicate. That makes it easier to adjust treatment plans for quicker relief.
Neuropathy Care in Houston, TX
If you have neuropathy, don't believe anyone who tells you that there's no way to find relief. And don't think that your only hope is
those strong pharmaceuticals that can provide adverse reactions. Instead, schedule a consultation with our podiatry practice in Houston TX. When you come in, we'll discuss all your treatment options. From medical foods to implantable devices and more, we can find ways to relieve your pain and numbness.