Answering the Why of Neuropathy

If you’ve been diagnosed with neuropathy as a result of

  • Diabetes
  • HIV/AIDS or some other autoimmune disease
  • Chemotherapy
  • Shingles
  • Heredity

You probably have more questions than answers.

Neuropathy is probably the one symptom you never expected when you received your diagnosis.

To understand why you developed neuropathy, it helps to understand exactly what neuropathy is.

What Is Neuropathy?

Neuropathy[1] is a condition caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system.  The peripheral nervous system controls communication between your brain and your spinal cord and every other part of your body.  When you pick up a hot pan and feel the pain of the burn, that’s the peripheral nervous system at work.

When the peripheral nervous system is damaged by whatever your other condition is, the communication super highway of the peripheral nervous system is disrupted.  The signals from the brain and spinal cord don’t make it to whatever part of the body is affected by your neuropathy.  It’s like going into a dead zone with your cell phone and not having any “bars”.  Your nerves just don’t make the proper connection.

And neuropathy doesn’t just affect the hands and feet.  It can affect your digestive system, your cardiovascular system, your reproductive system, even your brain.

What Causes Neuropathy?

Any number of things can cause your neuropathy.  Here are a couple of common examples:

If you have diabetes and your blood glucose levels aren’t controlled and have been high for significant period of time, the blood vessels that carry oxygen to your nerves can be damaged.  Sort of like a potted plant that doesn’t get enough sunlight or water.  Your nerves will wither and cease to function, just like your sunlight deprived plant.

If you HIV/AIDS or some other autoimmune disease, your immune system begins to attack your body and that can include your nervous system.  That causes damage to the peripheral nerves.

Any of the conditions we discussed earlier can cause neuropathy because they all can damage your nervous system.  The damage and the part of the nervous system damaged can vary as much as the patients with neuropathy but any of these illnesses places you at a much higher risk than the average person for developing neuropathy.

What Happens Once Those Nerves Are Damaged?

If your nervous system is damaged you can experience[2]

  • Numbness in your arms, hands, legs and feet
  • Inability to feel heat, cold or even pain in your arms, hands, legs and feet
  • Burning or tingling or even the “pins and needles” feeling you get when your legs or arms “go to sleep”
  • Changes in the shape of your feet caused by weakened muscles
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

If your neuropathy affects your autonomic nervous system, you can experience

  • Digestive problems like nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Inability to regulate your blood pressure

Your NeuropathyDR® specialist has an exclusive treatment protocol with proven results for neuropathy patients.  An integral part of that treatment protocol is nutrition counseling and diet planning.  Your specialist will sit down with you and plan your meals to include the proper portions of each of these categories on a daily basis to make sure that your blood sugar remains as constant as possible.

Assess your current medical situation and take note of any of the symptoms we described.  If you are experiencing any of these issues associated with neuropathy, contact your local NeuropathyDR® and take full advantage of their expertise in the treatment of neuropathies.

For more information on coping with diabetic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.

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Healing Chronic Disease with the Power of Positive Attitude

How to Transform Negative Self-Talk into Positivity for Healing Chronic Disease

The bad news: Negative self-talk can be very damaging to your health.

The good news: You can easily learn to transform negative self-talk into positive thinking that can actively help you in healing chronic disease, from diabetes to cancer.

What is negative self-talk? This is the term for the kind of demeaning, insulting, or belittling internal messages that we give ourselves when we are frustrated by our perceived failings. “I’m so stupid.” “I always mess up.” “Nobody could ever love me.”

These messages are so hurtful because they are based on labeling and judgment. They tell you that there is something wrong with you as a person. When your goal is healing chronic disease, negative self-talk tells you that instead of getting better, you ought to BE a better person.

You wouldn’t allow your best friend to talk this way to herself. It’s time to become your own best friend and intervene in negative self-talk. All you have to do is learn to break the pattern and replace negativity with truly healing actions that support you in healing chronic disease. Remember that healing begins from within, and you have total control over the mindset that is either helping or hurting your chance at optimum health.

Begin by simply noticing during the day when you use negative self-talk. Write down what the circumstances were, what you said or thought to yourself that was negative, and how those thoughts made you feel. Then, pick one recurring negative thought and decide how you will turn it around into a healing action.

For example, if you have noticed that you think to yourself “I’m such a klutz,” use this thought as a cue to notice what you need. The next time you catch yourself thinking about being a klutz, stop and say, “What do I need right now?” Maybe it’s a rest break, some water to rehydrate you, or a kind word from a good friend. Then take that healing action.

We think of negative self-talk as “automatic thoughts,” but the truth is that you can break the negative cycle and turn the negative into a positive. Let your negative thoughts be a signal that it’s time for a wellness check-in to find what your body needs right now. Soon, every moment will become a healing moment on the path to healing chronic disease.

For more information on coping with autonomic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com

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Looking for a Home Treatment for Chronic Neuropathic Pain? Reasons to Give Meditation a Try

Could Meditation be an Effective Home Treatment for Chronic Neuropathic Pain?

Meditation is a free wellness tool that you can use anytime and anywhere. And it’s not as complicated as you might think.

It might surprise you to hear that meditation can be an effective home treatment for chronic neuropathic pain. Maybe it doesn’t seem like something that would be an accepted neuropathy treatment, like medications or other traditional approaches to chronic pain.

In fact, there is a type of meditation that is actually considered to be evidence-based. In other words, multiple studies have looked at this method and seen positive results for chronic pain. A program called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction has been used in many renowned hospitals and medical centers, incorporating a type of mindfulness meditation that focuses on noticing thoughts and sensations without judgment.

There are books and tapes available about this program, but you don’t even need that kind of specialized training to begin using meditation for wellness on your own. All you need is to understand why mindfulness meditation works with chronic pain.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed this evidence-based program, says that when we have chronic pain, there are two things that make us suffer: the physical pain itself, and our thoughts and emotions about the pain that intensify what we are feeling. Our story about the awfulness or unbearableness of the pain builds a layer of tension around it, like wearing a shirt with a collar that’s too tight.

Meditation lets us change the way we feel ABOUT the pain, so that we can be more relaxed and accepting of it. That way, we can experience peacefulness even when physical pain is present.

Those are the reasons why meditation can be an effective home treatment for chronic neuropathic pain. Soon, we’ll discuss some different ways to meditate and how you can find the method that works best for you.

For more information on coping with autonomic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com

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Treating Chronic Pain with TLC: Why Emotional Support is Vital (and How to Ask for the Help You Need)

Don’t go it alone. Here’s why accepting support from family and friends is so important in treating chronic pain.

Although it may be a shocking idea, your personal support network may be equally as important to your health as your medical treatment team—or any kind of supplemental therapies.

Why? Because the bottom line is that a positive outlook is the best medicine for good health outcomes. If you are feeling contented and supported in your personal relationships, you’ll be much better equipped to cope with pain when it arises.

Unfortunately, many people find it hard to ask for help from their family and friends. We may have heard the message that it was weak or shameful to be dependent on others.

The truth is that when we are able to accept love and support, we’re better equipped to be as independent as possible in our daily lives.

Make a list of people in your life who have helped you in big and small ways in the past, as well as people that would probably be willing to help now if you were to ask.

Now, think about the things that are making your life the most difficult or stressful right now. This list could be anything from a leaky faucet in your kitchen to a pile of medical bills. Just get it all down on paper.

Finally, begin matching the list of stress points with the list of helpers in your life. Who could come over and fix that leaky faucet for you? Who could help you make phone calls to arrange a payment plan for those bills?

You will find that most of the people on your list are grateful for a chance to help you—they just didn’t know what to do that would be truly helpful. And when your stress level decreases (now that the leaky faucet or pile of bills is a thing of the past), your overall health will be optimized. That means chronic pain becomes less of a burden because you’re better able to cope with it.

For more information on coping with autonomic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com

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A Simple and Effective Treatment for Foot Neuropathy: Gentle Yoga

Ease the pain of neuropathy in feet with a simple yoga practice—even if you’ve never done yoga before.

Peripheral neuropathy can be an aggravating and chronic condition, and it’s tough to treat using traditional medications. But there’s a treatment you can do on your own—in a class, or at home—that can be very beneficial over time, and that’s gentle yoga.

Yoga isn’t just about spiritual growth or physical fitness anymore. Many neuropathy patients are finding that simple yoga poses can alleviate uncomfortable tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes. Best of all, many basic yoga poses are easy to learn and don’t require special equipment.

Some of the benefits of a regular yoga practice include:

  1. Increased circulation to the hands and feet. Many yoga poses use the pull of gravity to shift habitual blood flow patterns, particularly to the feet. (Don’t worry, this doesn’t require a headstand!)
  2. Improved body self-awareness. A regular yoga practice can help you connect with your body sensations and really notice what your body is telling you.
  3. Relaxation and peacefulness. A simple, non-strenuous yoga practice for 10 to 30 minutes before bed can help you relax and sleep better. Or, if you prefer, use yoga as a gentle wake-up practice in the morning to set a peaceful tone for your day.

In general, yoga is a wonderful form of self-care that can be modified for your own unique physical goals and needs.

If you have no experience with yoga, it’s best to begin with assistance from a teacher. You can look for a local “gentle yoga” class or use a beginning yoga DVD as a guide at home.

Here’s one very simple yoga technique to get you started with relief for your feet. Sit cross-legged with your shoes and socks off. Weave your fingers one by one through the toes of the opposite foot, and hold this position for about 20 seconds. Then, switch to using the other hand and foot. You may want to do this 2 or 3 times for each foot.

For more information on coping with autonomic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com

 

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What You Need To Know About Hypoglycemia and Autonomic Neuropathy

If you have diabetes and have already experienced hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) you already know you can have a serious problem.

That problem is hypoglycemia.

Hypoglycemia can occur in anyone with diabetes, especially if they’re taking medication but especially injected insulin to lower their blood glucose.  If you have type 1 diabetes and you’re insulin dependent, you stand a higher chance of developing hypoglycemia.

The symptoms might be mild and easy for you to recognize.  However, the symptoms can be severe enough to cause you to lose consciousness…

If those prospects concern you, they should.  The really frightening thing is this –

You Might Not Even Know You Have A Problem

Most people expect hypoglycemic episodes to come with classic symptoms[1]:

∙           Tremor

∙           Sweating

∙           Heart palpitations

That doesn’t always happen.  If you’ve had type 1 diabetes for a long period of time and try to keep your blood glucose levels close to normal, you may not even realize you have a problem.

Here’s why:

If you have type 1 diabetes, when your blood glucose levels fall, your insulin levels don’t decrease and your glucagon levels don’t increase.  They just reflect your body’s absorption of insulin.  When that happens, your body loses its first two lines of defense against the imbalance in your system.  Your body’s normal response is impaired.

What Causes the Impairment[2]?

Several things –

∙           Your brain may have become used to hypoglycemia because it’s been dealing with it for awhile. If you’ve had frequent episodes, the system in your body that’s responsible for transporting adrenaline to where it’s needed no longer senses a great need.  It just doesn’t respond.

∙           You may be using medications that mask your hypoglycemia symptoms and not even know it. You may not experience the tremors or heart palpitations that another person would during a hypoglycemic episode.

All of these are reasons (especially if you are insulin dependent) you should be checking and recording your blood sugars at least 4 times per day. It is so critical to use a good monitor and always have supplies on hand.

One last thing. Ask your doctor about having hypoglycemia recovery tools like glucose (sugar) tablets on hand for a low blood sugar emergency.

About Autonomic Neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy in itself is not a disease.  It’s a type of peripheral neuropathy that affects the nerves that control involuntary body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and perspiration.  The nerves are damaged and don’t function properly leading to a breakdown of the signals between the brain and the parts of the body affected by the autonomic nervous system like the heart, blood vessels, digestive system and sweat glands.

The autonomic nervous system is the body’s back up plan for dealing with hypoglycemia.  When it malfunctions, it can lead to a world of problems.  Imagine your body being unable to regulate your heart rate or your blood pressure, an inability to properly digest your food, urinary problems, even being unable to sweat in order to cool your body down when you exercise.  In your case as a patient with diabetic hypoglycemia, your autonomic neuropathy could be keeping your liver from producing insulin.

If you have diabetes, you need to take every precaution to maintain proper glucose levels.  Make sure you report any change in your condition to your doctor immediately.

If you’ve developed autonomic neuropathy as a result of your hypoglycemia, prompt treatment is your best bet to avoid serious and possibly deadly complications.  Early intervention with a NeuropathyDR® clinician is a good place to start.  If you already have symptoms, start treatment immediately.  If you take beta blockers or you’ve had frequent episodes of hypoglycemia in the past, see your doctor immediately and make sure you’re on a good preventative regimen.

For more information on coping with autonomic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.

 

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Neuropathy and Fructose

Neuropathy and Fructose

Much has been written about consuming processed foods and drinks laced with the sugar known as fructose.  But why is this simple product, which is often times billed as all natural food or sweetner such a troublemaker?

Mainly because fructose does not “burn” like other sugars. In fact fructose is only about 60% efficient in converting to simpler molecules. So this means 40% or so fructose gets converted to fat!

Yikes!

This also explains why those who consume the excess amounts of fructose common to modern diets have a very difficult time managing their weight.

The biggest offender of course is soda.

As we’ve written about before there is no reason that anybody with their eye on health or disease prevention should ever be consuming soda. This also includes artificial and calorie free sweeteners in soda, other drinks and foods.

Even a zero calorie soda that tastes sweet to your body WILL still create a weight gain situation!

Fructose can also be found in high amounts in fruits. This is why many people who go on the so called “fruit” diets or drink a lot of fruit juices have a very difficult time controlling blood sugar and losing weight or keeping weight off.

It’s also why our diet plan is carbohydrate controlled and this includes limiting serving sizes of fruits.

Typically, a serving size of fruit would be one half banana, one half or one small apple, pear etc. Generally, berries unless overripe are not so much a problem. Melon, again when consumed in moderation are usually not a problem either.

Remember we are having this conversation about fructose and neuropathy treatment because it is obesity, metabolic syndrome and prediabetes which are at the cause of over 50% of idiopathic cases of neuropathy and these also complicate many forms of chronic pain.

Taming your fructose consumption is just one thing but big thing you can do right now to improve the quality of your life both short and long term!

For more information on coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.co

 

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Neuropathy Treatment Challenge

Neuropathy Treatment Challenge

As you probably know actually working with and effectively treating neuropathy can be extraordinarily challenging. Neuropathy is almost never an isolated symptom. Very rarely does it occur just by itself. It is so often the result of many different causes and other conditions.

Fortunately, the most common cause is correctable. As you have read here before the most common cause of neuropathy is prediabetes also known as metabolic syndrome or Syndrome X. This is a lifestyle disorder often caused by years of weight gain, aggravated by cigarette smoking, and inactivity.

The underlying conditions related to other forms of neuropathy such as genetic types can by very challenging!

But there are some truths that are common to all of these types of neuropathy in many forms of chronic pain.

And that is drug only therapy serves to simply mask the symptoms and not treat the underlying illness.
Too often patients who suffer from #neuropathy, #fibromyalgia and other forms of chronic pain can go on this pattern for many years before effective treatment is actually implemented.

This neuropathy and chronic pain treatment of course centers around improving our overall level of health and well being! Physically, mentally, and spiritually. Cleaning up our diets, getting on appropriate exercise programs and minimizing medications is better long term approach.

You must at all costs avoid prolonged self-treatment for pain or other annoying symptoms!

It is not unusual now that we see patients taking large amounts of self-prescribed over-the-counter drugs ending up with liver kidney damage and sometimes organ failure.

Don’t let this be you! Yes of course some medications are necessary to help with pain but using them only to the exclusion of other good self-care is a sure path down the road to disaster.

It’s very important that you take the most appropriate steps to actually improve your underlying health and function as quickly as possible.

For more information on coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.co

 

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Vitamin D and Dementia

Vitamin D and Dementia 

Even the news media has latched onto this one. Vitamin D is associated with many diseases and conditions such as Dementia. Now as it turns out as we have long suspected vitami D is critical for brain health.

The most recent research highlights the relationship between vitamin D and dementia. Turns out maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D may actually prevent the onset of brain disease commonly called dementia.

But what about its involvement with neuropathy and chronic pain? Over the last few years we have highlighted it’s role, and the fact that vitamin D deficiencies are associated with chronic pain.

Furthermore vitamin D deficiencies are often associated with peripheral neuropathy.

Often times there is no direct cause and effect noted but we do know that vitamin D deficiency is associated with chronic poor health and many diseases and illnesses.

But why is this? How can one nutrient have such profound effects? The reason is vitamin acts as a hormone. Also acts as a cellular protectant.

One mistake that too many make however is simply blindly taking vitamin D without having it’s blood levels measured. This is a point I cannot stress enough.

You must know your vitamin D levels like you know your height ,weight and blood pressure.

So why not learn more about how vitamin D may help protect you from dementia, as well as numerous other disorders, including neuropathy as well as many forms of chronic pain!

Just use the search function on his site and go through our archives and learn much more about vitamin D!

There’s no other way to say it.

This should be part of routine testing for all patients, no excuses.

For more information on coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.co

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Neuropathy Lab Tests

There is No Single Neuropathy Lab Test as Neuropathy is often a “Symptom” of Many Conditions.

One of the things that surprises many patients new to peripheral neuropathy and many other forms of chronic pain, is that is there is no single neuropathy or pain causing lab test to identify their problem.

In fact there is no single laboratory tests by itself, which is hundred percent accurate for so many disorders.

This of course is difficult not only for patients, but their families AND the physicians and therapists like ourseslves who treat peripheral neuropathy and chronic pain.

As we talk about often, neuropathy is most often a “symptom” of other conditions and as in the case of chemotherapy, toxic, or drug related neuropathy possibly caused by treatment. It is not necessarily a primary diagnosis.

So what this means is that very careful attention needs to be paid to multiple factors at the same time. This also often includes multiple laboratory tests.

For the patient new to neuropathy or chronic pain, this will oftentimes include blood tests. If it’s possibly related to a structural or spinal condition then MRIs, x-rays, CAT scans, and other tests may also be necessary.

One of the most important things your clinician will do is to conduct a very detailed physical examination.

Only after ALL of these things are done and then put together by an expert, can you most accurately identify what maybe going on.

This is NOT a one step or simple process!

So realize that in order to maximize your recovery, EARLY good care must still be administered ESPECIALLY when an accurate diagnosis is not possible! As we spoke about last time, waiting to act on correctable factors while obtaining a “perfect” assessment is the worst thing you can do.

And many times neuropathy and chronic pain patients are frustrated with negative or nearly normal tests. But as I tell my patients all the time, this is often the sign of a much better prognosis!

So of course you should work with your doctors and therapists in establishing an accurate diagnosis.

But don’t be surprised if this is not possible.

Often times there are several different conditions and lifestyle factors that work together to cause neuropathy and chronic pain. Typically these are stress, obesity, smoking and poor physical conditioning.

This is why it is so important that you address ALL these things together with your NeuropathyDR Clinician to give your body the best shot at any possible improvement or recovery!

For more information on coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.co

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