What is Neuropathy and how do we treat it?
Neuropathy is a term that describes disease or dysfunction of the nerves, usually affecting the hands and feet. Patients often have pain, dulled sensation, inability to feel temperature changes, or even difficulty moving their hands and feet. To make matters worse this painful condition is often not adequately controlled with standard medications, leaving patients frustrated.
The reason that these medications don’t help is because they’re targeted at the nerves themselves, not the underlying problem that’s leading to the problem in the first place. There are several diseases that can lead to Neuropathy and these include: diabetes, vitamin B12 deficiency, hypothyroidism, liver disease, and cancer.
Luckily, the most common reasons for Neuropathy are diabetes (or pre-diabetes), thyroid imbalance, and vitamin B12 deficiencies. However, the number of people in the United States with these conditions is strikingly high. Diabetes and pre-diabetes alone are found in 115 million Americans! Thyroid conditions are found in 12% of the population and, interestingly, according to the American Thyroid Association, 60% of people that have a thyroid condition are completely unaware of it.
The Functional Medicine approach to Neuropathy is to first determine what’s causing the condition. This is done through metabolic testing and analyzing body chemistry for imbalances and previously undiagnosed problems. From there Functional Medicine uses a combination of dietary changes along with nutritional supplements to affect change – we don’t use more medications! Patients report relief from their pain, that they feel better and they’re often able to stop taking the Neuropathy medication altogether.