Disuse Syndrome

In our last post, we discussed how exercise can help control the symptoms of your underlying illness (whatever caused your autonomic neuropathy). Today we’re going to discuss the effects of not exercising, which are called disuse syndrome.

Use Vs. Disuse

When you’re thinking about starting an exercise program and you’re thinking about how dangerous it can be, you also need to consider the effects of not starting an exercise program.

The effects of not exercising are called disuse syndrome.  If your level of activity seriously out of sync with your level of inactivity, you can develop:

• Decreased physical work capacity

• Muscle atrophy

• Negative nitrogen and protein balance

• Cardiovascular deconditioning

• Pulmonary restrictions

• Depression

The effects of any of these symptoms of disuse syndrome in combination with your autonomic neuropathy symptoms can make a bad situation even worse.

The very nature of your autonomic neuropathy can affect the systems that are most sensitive to the effects of exercise.  Any exercise program you begin should be designed and monitored by a medical professional well versed in the effects of autonomic neuropathy, like your NeuropathyDR® clinician.

Autonomic neuropathy can have a serious effect on the very systems in the body that are directly affected by exercise.  Make sure you talk to your healthcare provider before you start an exercise program and let them monitor your progress.

For more information on coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to our newsletters at http://neuropathydr.com.

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Neuropathy Treatment Decisions: Should You Take Medications for Neuropathy?

The Most Comprehensive and Effective Neuropathy Treatment Approach Goes Beyond Medicating Symptoms and Treats the Root Cause.

There is so much more to effective neuropathy treatment than masking symptoms with medications.

Unfortunately, you would hardly know that’s the case, given how the majority of doctors still approach neuropathy treatment. The truth is that relying on the expertise of a doctor who isn’t specifically trained in neuropathy treatment could end up making your neuropathy symptoms worse, not better.

That’s because so many of the drugs that doctors tend to prescribe for neuropathy symptoms like tingling, numbness, and nerve pain have side effects, some of which will intensify over time.

This “one drug fits all” approach often stems from a lack of understanding about the root cause of neuropathy symptoms.

So-called idiopathic neuropathy, for which there is no known cause, may actually be developed over time due to metabolic syndrome—formerly known as pre-diabetes—a condition that will not be addressed at all by traditional symptom-focused drug therapies for neuropathy.

Or worse, if a doctor ignores the neuropathy and attempts to treat metabolic syndrome using medications for lowering cholesterol or blood pressure, your neuropathy symptoms are likely to get worse in reaction to these drugs.

The most effective approach to neuropathy treatment is a multi-modal approach that begins with substantial lifestyle changes and complementary therapies to support your body’s own natural healing process. Work with a trained neuropathy expert on a treatment plan that includes safe weight loss, a healthy neuropathy diet with no sugars or processed foods, and regular moderate exercise.

When you take the wheel of your own neuropathy treatment plan and consult with an expert trained in the best that neuropathy treatment has to offer, your quality of life will improve for the better.

There is a place for prescription medications. But I truly believe that a comprehensive neuropathy treatment approach that goes beyond drugs and puts YOU in the driver’s seat is the best way to begin healing from neuropathic pain.

Click here to find a neuropathy treatment expert near you.

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The Connection Between Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetic Neuropathy

What Do You Need to Know About Diabetic Neuropathy and Metabolic Syndrome?

Years ago, we called it pre-diabetes. Lately, the common term is Syndrome X. No matter what name we give it, metabolic syndrome is a potentially devastating diagnosis.

I would go so far as to say that metabolic syndrome is the number one most dangerous medical condition challenging our society today.

That’s because so many people start to take care of themselves in terms of diet, exercise, and other self care only AFTER they have been diagnosed with diabetes or diabetic neuropathy. And by then, for so many of those people, it’s almost too late to matter.

Metabolic syndrome lies hidden for years, causing damage to multiple major body systems. At our clinics, we see so many patients with diabetic neuropathy and chronic pain related to metabolic syndrome.

Typically, metabolic syndrome tends to show up as a collection of subtle symptoms many years before a diabetes diagnosis. People with metabolic syndrome will notice a weight increase and thickening of the waist, along with small changes in their blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

The first thing you can do to protect yourself from the ravages of metabolic syndrome is to accept that a 20+ pound weight gain and spreading waistline is not a normal part of aging, and in fact can lead to very dangerous health complications. Being overweight is a risk factor for peripheral neuropathy in addition to other conditions, like heart disease.

Your next line of defense is to begin working with a medical specialist who is well trained in diagnosing metabolic syndrome, diabetic neuropathy, and other disorders. Remember that only you can be an effective health advocate for yourself.

Finally, ask your doctor about lifestyle changes that can have a significant positive impact on your health related to metabolic syndrome and diabetic neuropathy.

Get your copy of our neuropathy owners manual, I Beat Neuropathy!

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Neuropathy Diet and Nutrition: How to Get Started

You Know That A Healthy Neuropathy Diet Can Make All the Difference in Your Quality of Life with Peripheral Neuropathy. But Do You Know How to Implement This Change in the Best Way?

If you’re been reading for a while, you know that we discuss a healthy neuropathy diet as one of the primary ways to improve your health immediately and over time.

Unfortunately, many neuropathy patients struggle with this lifestyle change. When you are accustomed to processed foods, which typically contain lots of salt and sugar, learning to enjoy leafy green vegetables and other staples of the neuropathy diet can be a challenge.

But it’s well worth it. You’ll begin feeling better overall within a matter of days, and a neuropathy diet offers control over your symptoms which can have both physical and emotional impacts.

So many of the neuropathy patients we see in our clinics are suffering from chronic GI problems—irritable bowel, ulcers, and so on. Those things complicate neuropathic pain and certainly detract from quality of life. They can be precipitated by stress, but often a very poor diet is also to blame.

Here’s why we advocate whole foods for a neuropathy diet. Whole foods simply contain more things that your body needs to heal from neuropathy: vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and water.

Ideally, your neuropathy diet will contain local fresh farmer’s market produce whenever possible. You’ll also want to learn how to flavor and season your food primarily with spices rather than salt.

As with any significant change in your health regimen, talk with your neuropathy specialist about how to begin incorporating a healthy neuropathy diet into your lifestyle in a gradual way.

Looking for a neuropathy specialist who is highly trained in all aspects of treating and managing neuropathy, including a healthy neuropathy diet? Click here to find a neuropathy expert near you.

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Neuropathy and Sleep Problems

Sleep Problems are Common among Neuropathy Patients. Here’s What You Can Do to Make It Better.

Sleep disturbances aren’t unusual for most people during times of stress or illness. But people with neuropathy tend to experience sleep problems more often, and in a more severe way, than the general population.

You may have already experienced how a lack of sufficient restful sleep can negatively impact your daily function. It can also be detrimental to your long-term health and quality of life.

If you’re not getting enough restful sleep, your body’s major systems just aren’t able to recharge like they need to in order to combat neuropathy symptoms. You’ll be noticing more and more weight gain, fatigue, depression, and chronic pain over time as you continue losing sleep.

It’s so important to share information about your sleep problems with your neuropathy specialist, who can build sleep adjustment into your overall treatment plan.

You can also make lifestyle changes starting right away to help improve your sleep quality and reduce neuropathy symptoms. Daily movement or exercise, preferably outdoors for the addition of vitamin D from sunlight, is very important for neuropathy sufferers with insomnia. Stress reduction is another key to healthy sleep to supplement your neuropathy treatment. Make sure to also get enough water and eat foods from a healthy neuropathy diet. Some patients (those without kidney disease) may want to ask their doctors about magnesium supplements.

Another option is the daily use of our home care kit featuring an FDA-approved electrotherapy neurostimulator. By reducing tingling and other symptoms that can distract you from sleep, this daily care program can get help you get more Z’s on a regular basis. The NDGen Home Care Kit also offers automatic shut-off and a timer so that you can safely use it while drifting off to sleep. Take a look at our NDGen neuropathy home care kit.

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Diabetic Neuropathy May Not Respond to Traditional Treatment Approaches!

A General Doctor or Nutritionist May Be Giving You Outdated Diet Information When It Comes to Managing Diabetic Neuropathy.

You’ll see that I have been mentioning diabetes frequently on this blog. That’s because it is unfortunately such a common precursor to developing symptoms of neuropathy.

And diabetic neuropathy can be painful and difficult to treat. It is frustrating for both doctors and patients!

What seems to be the case is that in general, diabetic neuropathy is not being treated aggressively. Diabetes patients are being told that they should lose some weight and get some exercise. But “some” isn’t good enough when it comes to diabetic neuropathy.

What’s worse, you may have been given specifics about a diabetes diet from a nutritionist, but if you look closely, that diet still contains too many grains and fruits.

With diabetic neuropathy, you will need to keep carbohydrates at an absolute minimum—even “healthy” carbs. Most people with diabetic neuropathy should be restricting carbs to 15 g at one meal.

Of course, talk with your doctor before undergoing any significant health lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. These changes will require you to adjust any medications you are taking for diabetes control, especially insulin. It is dangerous to change your diet or activity level without consulting your doctor.

It’s also important, of course, to be your own best health advocate. Management of your diabetic neuropathy is within your control. The ideal is to work with a trained neuropathy specialist who can tailor your diabetic neuropathy treatment to your own specific health needs and lifestyle. A neuropathy clinician will be interested not only in your lab numbers but in the details of your quality of life and be looking to help you improve on that drastically.

To find a diabetic neuropathy expert in your area, click here.

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Is it Fibromyalgia or Neuropathy?

Knowing Whether You Have Fibromyalgia or Neuropathy Can Be Tricky, But These Distinctions Are Important.

Every neuropathy doctor has heard these words many times: “Is it fibromyalgia, or neuropathy?”

Unfortunately, the symptoms overlap a great deal.

That’s why it’s essential to seek a diagnosis from a trained neuropathy expert who can differentiate between the two and tell you for sure whether it’s fibromyalgia or neuropathy in your case.

Both conditions can involve tingling or numbness and elements of chronic pain.

The good news is that both conditions can be helped with lifestyle changes that support the in-office treatment you are getting from your doctor. Like many other serious health conditions, whether it’s fibromyalgia or neuropathy, your day to day experience can be improved with diet and exercise.

Eating non-processed foods that are rich in key nutrients is one way to improve your health when dealing with fibromyalgia or neuropathy.

We also know that gentle daily movement protocols can greatly aid your recovery from fibromyalgia or neuropathy. Your doctor can help you identify which types of exercise are most appropriate for your specific health condition and fitness level.

But the most important piece of the puzzle is your relationship with your doctor. Does he or she spend considerable time with you in evaluating your unique health needs? Has your doctor been able to effectively distinguish whether you are suffering from fibromyalgia or neuropathy?

Ideally, you will want to work with a trained neuropathy clinician who can tailor a treatment plan to YOUR needs. Whether you’re dealing with fibromyalgia or neuropathy, a cookie-cutter approach will not improve your health!

The most important first step is in connecting with an expert who can provide an in-depth assessment to correctly diagnose your fibromyalgia or neuropathy.

To find a NeuropathyDR® clinician in your area, click here.

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Massage Therapy Treatments for Chemotherapy Induced Neuropathy

Chemotherapy’s Side Effects are No Picnic, Including Chemo-Induced Neuropathy Pain. Massage Therapy is One of Several Treatment Modalities That Can Help.

Chances are, you were hoping that when your chemotherapy cancer treatment was over, you’d be done with medications entirely.

Unfortunately, neuropathy is a common side effect of some chemotherapy treatments. In some cases, the neuropathy symptoms end within weeks or months of the end of chemotherapy. In other cases, neuropathy induced by chemotherapy drugs may be permanent.

But it’s important to understand that even if your neuropathy symptoms aren’t curable, that doesn’t mean that the current level of pain and impairment is a permanent fixture in your life. That’s because there are ways to treat chemotherapy neuropathy that can significantly reduce pain and discomfort. For many patients, massage therapy is a key aspect of treatment.

Peripheral neuropathy induced by chemotherapy may have any of these qualities:

  • Numbness, burning, or tingling in your feet, toes, hands, or fingers
  • Shooting nerve pains
  • Insomnia because of pain and discomfort

Here’s how massage therapy can help to reduce those problems.

In short, massage therapy means manipulation of the body’s soft tissues. One of the key features of massage therapy is its ability to improve blood circulation, which can reduce nerve damage in addition to relieving pain.

Massage therapy also helps you to relax, not just while you’re on the massage table but for days afterward. Relaxation is so important for neuropathy patients, because tension tends to make pain seem even worse. Being able to relax will also significantly improve your ability to sleep at night—which affects your quality of life significantly.

Massage therapy is just one form of the “complementary or alternative therapies” that we recommend for many patients with peripheral neuropathy. The best neuropathy treatment plans will often complementary therapies like massage, in addition to lifestyle changes, high-tech treatments like laser therapy, and appropriate medications.

To understand more about custom neuropathy treatment plans, please take a look at the “neuropathy owner’s manual,” I Beat Neuropathy!

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What’s The Prognosis for Hereditary Neuropathy?

Diagnosed with a Hereditary Form of Neuropathy? Here’s How to Treat Longstanding and Progressive Nerve Symptoms.

If you have hereditary neuropathy, you may have received your diagnosis years ago in your 20s or 30s, or even in your teens. You’re probably already familiar with terms like these: HNPP (Hereditary Neuropathy with Liability to Pressure Palsies), Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, DSD (Dejerine-Sottas Disease), or HMN (Hereditary Motor Neuropathy).

You probably also already know the kinds of symptoms that these hereditary neuropathies can cause:

  • Pain in the hands and feet
  • Tingling or numbness, especially in extremities
  • Weak and emaciated muscles in the legs and feet
  • Problems sweating
  • Deformities of the foot (such as hammer toes) or spine (such as scoliosis)

But what you may not know is the vast advancements in treating hereditary neuropathy that have been made over the past few years. Though your condition is not curable, it is in many cases highly treatable.

Here are the general types of hereditary neuropathy that we usually see in our clinics. People with sensory neuropathy have limited input from touch and the other “six senses” that we normally gather information about the world. People with motor neuropathies have limited mobility or range of motion. People with autonomic neuropathy have trouble with their bodies’ ability to efficiently regulate things like their heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and other body systems that normally take care of themselves without any input from us. And some folks have mixed neuropathies that affect more than one body system.

Genetic testing is the primary way to diagnose hereditary neuropathy, along with nerve biopsies and nerve conduction studies. All of these elements are needed for an accurate diagnosis. Your neuropathy specialist should also interview you for information about your family’s health going back two to three generations. It’s important to note that you might have a hereditary form of neuropathy even if you don’t know of anyone in your family with similar symptoms.

When it comes to formulating a treatment plan, keep in mind that hereditary neuropathy can’t be cured, but treatments are available to help you heal as much as possible and significantly improve your quality of life. Typically, your treatment plan should include several elements, including:

  • Addressing any underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes
  • Beneficial lifestyle changes, including nutrition and appropriate exercise
  • Medication (in some cases)
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Other high-tech treatment options, such as laser light therapy

It’s vital to seek a diagnosis and treatment planning from a highly trained neuropathy specialist who can customize your treatment for your specific needs. Click here to find a NeuropathyDR® specialist near you.

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Top 5 Neuropathy Myths

Have You Fallen For These Neuropathy Myths? Find the Real Facts Here.

There’s a lot of misinformation out there concerning neuropathy—what it is, what causes it, and most of all, what you can do about it.

In some cases, these neuropathy myths arise from confusion due to outdated information, misleading claims, and rumors perpetuated by neuropathy sufferers looking for a cure.

Take a look at the following neuropathy myths and the real facts known by current medical science, and decide for yourself.

Myth #1: Neuropathy pain happens naturally with age.

Neuropathy can happen to people of any age; it’s just a little more common in the senior population. And neuropathic pain is not inevitable with advanced age. Instead, it’s correlated with certain problems that can happen to older people, such as drug complications and metabolic issues. In fact, there’s plenty you can do to help prevent neuropathic pain from negatively impacting your quality of life as you get older.

Myth #2: My friend with neuropathic pain says that my symptoms can’t be neuropathy, because my pain is nothing like my friend’s pain.

Neuropathy can present with a variety of specific symptoms. These can include sharp pain, lack of normal sensation, unpleasant tingling, or inability to retain control over motor functions. Some individuals will have only one symptom, while others have multiple indicators of nerve damage. In the most severe cases, there can even be organ damage that impairs normal function. One person’s neuropathy may not look anything like another person’s neuropathic pain. That’s why it’s so important to get a diagnosis from a trained clinician with a background in treating neuropathy.

Myth #3: Only people with diabetes develop neuropathy symptoms.

It’s true that neuropathy is one of the symptoms commonly associated with diabetes. However, there are many other patients who are affected by neuropathy—including people in chemotherapy cancer treatment, people with minor physical problems like carpel tunnel syndrome, and those who have undergone an illness or injury.

Myth #4: There is a simple cure for neuropathy.

Unfortunately, although there are many websites and books out there claiming that they alone can provide a “cure” for neuropathic pain, the truth is that there’s no real cure. It’s also important to keep in mind that neuropathy looks different for every individual sufferer, so how could a website or book possibly offer a miracle cure for YOU and your individual pain? Any cookie cutter solution is likely to be a scam or just plain ineffective. Always talk with your physician before beginning any type of neuropathy treatment program.

Myth #5: If there’s no cure for neuropathy, then there’s no point in trying to treat my symptoms.

Actually, many neuropathy sufferers have been able to significantly improve their quality of life and even reduce the severity of their symptoms. There’s no “cure,” but there is a proven effective treatment regimen that blends home care and lifestyle changes with clinical treatment protocols to ease neuropathy pain.

You’ve already taken the first step by reading this article. An informed patient is a powerful patient! For more concrete, practical information about neuropathy and how you can turn your symptoms around, take a look at the neuropathy owner’s manual: I Beat Neuropathy!

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