Peripheral Neuropathy | Diabetic Neuropathy | Philly | PA

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral Neuropathy is the term used to describe disorders of the peripheral nerves.  Even though 20 million Americans experience pain and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, information about it is difficult to find.  Approximately 50% of diabetics will develop the condition.  Also, many people using statin drugs (used to monitor cholesterol levels) are affected by this terrible disease.

Neuropathy means “disease or abnormality of the nervous system,” which is not a very helpful definition.  It is better to think of neuropathy as any type of damage to the nervous system.  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Herniated Discs, and Strokes are all injuries to different parts of the nervous system, all with different symptoms.  Diabetes is a systemic disease that affects all nerves of the body from the brain, eyes, and small nerves of the heart, and digestive system, to the nerves in the hands, legs, and feet.

What Does A Nerve Look Like?

The peripheral nervous system is made up of nerves that branch out of the spinal cord to all parts of the body. Peripheral nerve cells have three main parts: cell body, axon, and dendrites (nerve/muscle junctions). Any part of the nerve can be affected, but damage to the axons is most common.  The axon transmits signals from one nerve cell to another nerve cell or to muscle.  Most axons are surrounded by a substance called myelin, which facilitates signal transmission.

Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy is considered to be a “silent” disease.  That is, the symptoms usually have a gradual onset, and the body tries to manage the changes in functionality of the nervous system and all that it does.  Nerves supply muscles, blood vessels, joints, and bones with a communication system that constantly adapts to environment and the demands that we put on our bodies.  When you eat, the nerves in your abdomen send a signal to the brain to digest food.  When you walk up a flight of stairs, nerves in your entire body keep you from falling over with each step.  Inabilities to do things like you could when you were younger are an indication that you might have Peripheral Neuropathy.   There are two types of symptoms with peripheral neuropathy: negative and positive.

 

Negative symptoms:

    • Appear first
    • Occur when damage to the nervous system brings about a loss of a particular function
    • Rarely detectable to the patient because the brain makes up the difference in these losses
    • Decreased or absent reflexes
    • Decreased muscle strength
    • Decrease sensation of touch and temperature

 

Positive symptoms:

Only after some time, damaged nerves develop the positive signs of neuropathy, which are:

    • Tingling
    • Burning
    • Stabbing and/or shooting pain

 

These symptoms are an overreaction of the brain (central nervous system) and peripheral nervous system.  Unfortunately, this overreaction of the nervous system trying to manage injury in the face of every day demands affects the quality of patients’ lives.

Typically, each patient experiences a unique constellation of symptoms.  They describe their pain in a way that can’t always be expressed or understood.  Sometimes the location isn’t specific, sometimes the pain comes and goes, and sometimes a simple activity can create a lot of pain.   Doctor who aren’t trained in functional neurology are limited in their understanding of what a patient is experiencing and the limitation on their activities that peripheral neuropathy can have.  All too often, a patient continues to suffer from their worsening symptoms while increasing pain medication either doesn’t help as much as it used to, or the pain medication makes patients “foggy.”  Some neuropathies have a sudden onset, like Bell’s palsy, while others seem to develop over years, like diabetic neuropathy.  Depending on the type of injury to the nervous system and the location of the injury, symptoms can vary.

Some people may think they don’t have Peripheral Neuropathy, but describe being unable to open a jar of food or having weakness in the arms.  Some patients may describe difficulty standing, walking or getting out of a chair.  Some patients will eventually become unable to walk at all.  Peripheral neuropathy can start with  pins-and-needles, a burning sensation, or electric shock pain in their feet or it can be feeling a little unsure of where your feet are when you walk.  A lot of times, people report that their symptoms are worse at night, keeping them from getting a good night’s sleep due to pain.  One thing is certain; once Peripheral Neuropathy starts, if untreated it will only get worse.  Currently, traditional medicine has no cure for Peripheral Neuropathy.  Medical doctors prescribe very powerful drugs; these drugs don’t treat the nerve damage.  They numb the brain so that the patient feels less pain.  Most patients cannot tolerate a drugged existence, but feel they have no other option against this terrible disease.

 

A Better Treatment Option

These under-recognized losses in your peripheral nervous system can only be detected with a very focused and appropriate neurological examination.  Our office has the necessary training and tools to uncover the underlying cause of this “silent” nerve damage.  We find it and we treat it.  We don’t use prescription drugs to numb it even more.  Our office offers a solution with Anodyne® Therapy.  Our doctors, with their years of clinical experience in treating patients with Peripheral Neuropathy, understand that our patients’ quality of life isn’t as good as it could be, and that the pain of neuropathy touches every aspect of a person’s existence.  Every day we have more success relieving neuropathy pain.

  • Reduced pain and cramps
  • Reduced tingling or numbness in the fingers, legs, and toes
  • Ability to experience touch without pain
  • Reduced feeling of cold, burning, or pain in the legs and feet
  • Improved sense of balance and coordination
  • Less dependency on medications
  • Less restless leg symptoms
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased mental focus and clarity
  • Reduced irritability

What is Anodyne® Therapy?

The word “ano” means without and the word “dyne” means pain.  Anodyne® Therapy is designed to reduce pain; it is a FDA-cleared medical device that emits infrared light at a wavelength of 890 nm, delivering therapeutic benefits such as reduced pain, muscle spasm and increased circulation where applied.  This treatment is non-invasive, and has virtually no side effect profile – unlike many medications often prescribed for these types of symptoms.  Anodyne® Therapy can be used on patients of all activity and ability levels, and can even be safely applied on those with metal implants and pacemakers.

 

A patient receiving Anodyne Therapy.

How Does Anodyne® Therapy Help?

Blood vessels lose elasticity with age, reducing the amount of blood delivered to nerves and muscles in the extremities.  Factors such as heart disease, diabetes, vascular disease, chemotherapy and nicotine use for example, also contribute to blood vessel narrowing – further diminishing blood supply to the extremities.

The infrared light emitted out of the Anodyne® Therapy System stimulates the body to temporarily dilate blood vessels – increasing local circulation and also reducing pain where  administered.  In some cases, patients with poor circulation may have an absence of pain. Others however, may experience discomfort or tingling, burning pain in places like their toes, feet, fingers and hands.

Fifteen studies have been published in peer reviewed journals demonstrating the effectiveness of Anodyne® Therapy. In an average of 5 studies, patients reported a 57% reduction in pain experienced in their extremities.

 

Will My Symptoms Stay Away?

Most people experience substantial relief from pain and discomfort after a series of 16 to 24 thirty  minute treatments, even if their symptoms are associated with a chronic condition.  For those patients with chronic conditions however, symptomatic relief will be lost over time without additional treatment. Therefore, we encourage patients who have responded favorably to clinical treatments to obtain a home use system after discharge.