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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Is There a Peripheral Neuropathy Cure?

It’s The First Question On Your Mind When You Are Diagnosed: Is There A Cure For Peripheral Neuropathy?

It’s the big question. When you’re just been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, there’s only one thing you want to know: Is it going to get better? Is there a cure?

I wish I could say a resounding YES in answer to this question. Maybe a more honest answer would be, “Not yet.” Unfortunately, depending on how your specific case of neuropathy originated, many cases of nerve damage are permanent.

But don’t stop reading there! What you need to know about peripheral neuropathy is that there ARE steps you can take to treat your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Yes, peripheral neuropathy is a chronic condition, but we have learned so much over the years about how to effectively manage symptoms.

One of the areas that can be greatly improved for anyone with peripheral neuropathy is increased mobility. You may be experiencing mobility-related symptoms such as motor neuropathy, which decreases the strength of your limbs; decreased fine motor skills and dexterity in your fingertips;or trouble walking because of stiff joints and painful feet.

All of these problems can be frustrating and can severely impact your daily life, when even the simplest tasks have become incredibly difficult. This can lead to mood disorders like depression, a secondary effect of peripheral neuropathy for many people.

That’s why the best approach to peripheral neuropathy treatment is multi-faceted. The closest thing we have to a “cure” is a flexible treatment approach that incorporates at-home nutrition and exercise adjustments, along with state-of-the-art options like laser therapy, based on a customized assessment from a trained NeuropathyDR® clinician. You’ll be able to take symptom management into your own hands and return to living the life YOU want to lead.

To start improving your quality of life right away and take charge of peripheral neuropathy, click here to locate a NeuropathyDR® clinician near you.

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Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms After Surgery

If You Are Experiencing Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms Following a Major Surgery, You Are Not Alone. Keep Reading to Learn Why This Happens and What You Can Do About It.

Recovering from surgery is always a bit of an ordeal. It can feel like a huge triumph just to avoid infection, wean off those post-surgery medications, and start feeling somewhat normal again.

Unfortunately, surgery can sometimes cause brand-new neuropathy problems, including:

  • Nerve pain
  • Extreme sensations of warmth or cold in the skin of extremities
  • Inability to sense vibration or touch
  • Burning or tingling in feet and hands

There are a lot of reasons why you could be experience neuropathy pain after surgery. Let’s take a look at three of the most common reasons.

First of all, the use of general anesthetic, especially prolonged use in lengthy surgeries, can cause hypoxia. This is a condition in which the anesthetic prevents certain types of nerves in your body from getting the right amount of oxygen, leading to damage.

In addition, nerve compression, leading to neuropathic pain, can be caused by conditions like carpel tunnel syndrome and sciatica. Experiencing neuropathy symptoms after a surgery that intended to alleviate these conditions could simply be a new awareness of existing symptoms that were not adequately addressed by the surgery.

The question is, now that you know you have neuropathy—a real condition, not something that’s “all in your head”—what can you do about it?

There are several steps you can take right now to alleviate your neuropathy pain.

First, make an appointment for a consultation with a trained neuropathy doctor who can accurately diagnose your nerve damage issues along with any global health problems (such as diabetes) that can exacerbate your symptoms. Trained NeuropathyDR® clinicians are knowledgeable in customizing available treatments to address your unique neuropathy symptoms and health needs.

Next, begin to educate yourself so that you can be your own most effective healthcare advocate. Learn all you can about neuropathy treatment, including home treatment options and beneficial lifestyle changes that can keep your symptoms at bay.

Be sure to check out our Self-Guided Care page to learn more about at-home peripheral neuropathy treatment options, including the FDA-approved NDGen Home Care Kit.

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Self-Diagnosing Neuropathic Pain is a Dangerous Game

Attempting to Diagnosis and Treat Neuropathic Pain On Your Own Just Delays Effective Treatment (and Could Worsen Your Symptoms)

In some ways, the Internet has been a blessing in terms of the availability of medical information. This can be so helpful if you suspect that you have the flu, or a mild skin rash, or poison ivy.

Where it’s not helpful, and may be very harmful indeed, is when you rely entirely on the Internet for self-diagnosis of serious health concerns related to neuropathic pain—including diabetic neuropathy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, shingles, peripheral neuropathy, or chemotherapy neuropathy.

When you attempt to self-diagnose and self-treat these conditions, you are impeding a truly helpful evaluation by a trained neuropathy doctor that can prevent additional nerve damage and substantially improve your quality of life.

In short, by attempting to treat your own neuropathic pain, you are wasting your health and valuable time—in short, making your condition worse. Early treatment is crucial for the success of eliminating neuropathic pain.

We’ve talked to so many patients with neuropathic pain who delayed seeing a NeuropathyDR® clinician because they wanted to save money. They inevitably tell us that they regret the wasted time and the long-term expense caused by increased nerve damage and all that it entails.

When you are dealing with neuropathy related to diabetes, chemotherapy treatment, and other serious conditions, it’s so important to think long-term. Neuropathy isn’t just an annoying side effect. It is a degenerative condition that will get worse over time and complicate other health concerns.

You may have learned that self-reliance and “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” is a good thing. In the case of neuropathic pain symptoms, however, the worst thing you can do is spend time trying to diagnosis and treat yourself.

When we say that self-treatment and home care is important, we’re referring to lifestyle elements implemented over time that complement the medical therapies recommended for you by your NeuropathyDR® clinician.

Self-treatment is an important component of your neuropathy treatment, AFTER a clinical diagnosis. Anything else is just a delaying tactic—one that could severely impact your health, not just today but years from now.

To read more about the diagnosis process and where to go from here with neuropathic pain, take a look at our neuropathy “owner’s manual”: I Beat Neuropathy!

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Distinguishing Between Fibromyalgia and Neuropathy

If You’re Wondering About the Differences Between Fibromyalgia and Neuropathy, You’re Not Alone. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Fibromyalgia and neuropathy have some symptoms in common, and that makes it difficult to make a differential diagnosis without close scrutiny. The common elements tend to be numbness, tingling, and/or chronic pain.

Did you know that a lot of serious health problems are directly linked to your personal lifestyle habits? Yes, even fibromyalgia and neuropathy. At our clinics, we look beneath the chronic pain symptoms and examine possible root causes that underlie the symptoms.

Not in every case, but in many cases of fibromyalgia and neuropathy, patients tend to be in poor condition physically as well as significantly overweight. They typically eat a diet that is poor in key nutrients, and many times they also have other health problems, such as thyroid disease.

Also, in some fibromyalgia cases there is a distinct neuropathic condition at work, according to research that has arisen recently. It has certainly been the case in our clinics over the years that a number of patients with fibromyalgia respond very positively to a modified version of our neuropathy treatment program.

The absolutely key piece of information you must have fibromyalgia and neuropathy is that the success of your treatment depends in large part on the specialized training and dedicated time of your treatment team. Unfortunately, in today’s healthcare climate, it’s unlikely that your current physician is able or willing to spend significant time and effort on your case alone.

But without fail, a trained NeuropathyDR® clinician will prioritize a treatment plan that is tailor-made for your specific health needs and goals. Your neuropathy treatment plan will be built around a detailed, in-depth assessment of your overall health in addition to specific symptoms related to fibromyalgia and neuropathy.

Your journey to good health begins with a solid understanding of neuropathy and concrete ways to combat this condition. For simple and straightforward information about how to effectively treat neuropathy, click here to read about our book I Beat Neuropathy! Getting Your Life Back On Track.

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The First Steps You Should Take After You Learn That You Have Neuropathy

Unsure What To Do Next After a Neuropathy Diagnosis? The First Steps Are Simple But Effective in Managing This Condition.

Finally, after a lot of confusion and misdiagnosis, your doctor has said that your symptoms are caused by neuropathy. It may be a relief to have a diagnosis and a name for the pain, tingling, or numbness you’ve been experiencing. Then again, you may simply feel discouraged and have no idea what to do next.

By far, the number one question I get from patients is, “Now what?” After a neuropathy diagnosis, what should a patient do next?

In particular, the doctor who diagnosed you may not have been able to offer much guidance. Most doctors just don’t have the training or knowledge in this area.

But there are specialists out there who can collaborate with you on a customized neuropathy treatment plan, one that is tailored to your specific needs—because neuropathy is not a cookie-cutter condition.

My advice to you as a newly diagnosed neuropathy patient is to follow these steps:

  1. Immediately put in place an effective management plan for any urgent or underlying medical conditions that you may have, including cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.
  2. Locate a neuropathy treatment specialist who can aid you in forming a treatment plan specific to your needs. If there is not a trained neuropathy doctor local to you—one who is willing to advise real corrective action rather than simply masking symptoms with medication—then there may be a NeuropathyDR® specialist who can consult from a distance with your medical team.
  3. Look closely at the everyday habits that are impacting your health. Do you smoke? Are you physically inactive? These are things that you can, and should, change so that your overall health will improve both short-term and long-term. Willingness to shift your eating habits toward a supportive neuropathy diet will also have a huge impact on your symptoms and well-being.

There is much that you can do on your own to benefit your health and reduce neuropathy symptoms. Working hand in hand with your NeuropathyDR® clinician, your health WILL improve.

Take a look at our patient’s guide to neuropathy and how to navigate your neuropathy treatment: I Beat Neuropathy! Getting Your Life Back on Track.

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Peripheral Neuropathy Can Be Managed with More Frequent Meals

Contrary to Popular Thinking About Metabolism and Weight Management, Eating More Often Can Benefit Those with Peripheral Neuropathy.

We all like to blame obesity and excessive/unhealthy eating habits for the development of metabolic problems. In a way, it really is that simple: when you consume more calories at one meal than your body needs, and when what you’re eating is also laden with fats and carbohydrates, then you probably will gain too much weight—which can affect your body systems negatively.

On the other hand, changing HOW OFTEN you eat can have a positive impact and can even assist you in managing your peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

By eating more frequent meals, you will be training your metabolism to operate differently, teaching your body to burn fat rather than store it. Your blood sugar with also even out, and you’ll stay warmer overall—two bonuses for those dealing with neuropathy related to diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

However, there’s a catch. You’ll need to eat smaller and more frequent meals and/or snacks that contain fewer carbohydrates and some type of protein. Ideally, you’ll be eating something every three hours.

An example of the kinds of meals I’m talking about would be a breakfast of steel-cut oats with berries, or perhaps a protein shake. For a substantial snack, you could have a small handful of almonds (which contain healthy fats).

Of course, if you suffer from diabetes-related peripheral neuropathy, you’ll need to be very careful about sugar intake. This just underscores the importance of working with a neuropathy treatment clinician such as one of our NeuropathyDR® professionals, who can create a customized dietary and treatment plan based on your peripheral neuropathy symptoms and individual health needs.

Looking for a NeuropathyDR® clinician in your area? To work with one of our specially trained peripheral neuropathy professionals, click here.

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Is Peripheral Neuropathy Interrupting Your Sleep?

For Peripheral Neuropathy Sufferers, Here’s Why Insomnia is a Serious Symptom that Can’t Be Ignored

Did you know that more than 70 percent of people with neuropathy also struggle with insomnia? When chronic pain and tingling in feet or hands is keeping you awake at night, it’s a good bet that you’re not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep that you need for good overall health.

There are mixed reasons why neuropathic pain is tied to sleep problems. Pain associated with peripheral neuropathy has a tendency to feel more intense at night, when you’re tired and when there are fewer distractions available to break your focus on the pain.

What’s more, there may be another strong tie between insomnia and neuropathy. Sleep apnea is a very common cause of sleep disorders, and research has indicated that untreated sleep apnea can actually lead to peripheral neuropathy symptoms. And if you’re diabetic and resistant to insulin, sleep apnea may be even more likely to affect your neuropathy.

Of course, it stands to reason that lack of adequate sleep can make your peripheral neuropathy symptoms seem even worse than before. It’s a fact that lack of sleep tends to lower one’s pain threshold significantly.

Here are some of our guidelines for improving sleep when dealing with peripheral neuropathy.

  • Limit your caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evening.
  • Institute a sleep routine that helps you wind down at night and go to sleep at about the same time every evening.
  • Don’t eat a large or heavy meal late in the evening. If your body is hard at work on digestion, it’s not resting.
  • Make any needed changes to your bedroom to induce restful sleep, including temperature, darkness, and noise.
  • Limit electronics at night, including television, computers, and any handheld devices. These have a stimulating effect on your brain. If you need an activity to help you sleep, try reading an actual book!

These are simple guidelines that can help you institute lasting positive change in your sleep patterns, hopefully leading to reduced peripheral neuropathy discomfort. But true relief can come only with the support of a trained NeuropathyDR clinician who can tailor the treatment to your specific needs. Click here to find a NeuropathyDR clinician in your area.

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Neuropathy and the Holidays: Ways to Reduce Damaging Holiday Stress

Holiday stress can contribute to worsening of neuropathy symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about how to effectively cope at this time of year.

Hands down, the holidays are one of the most stressful events we encounter in our lives… and they come every year, just like clockwork!

That’s true for anyone, but it’s also true that people with neuropathy related to diabetes or chemotherapy cancer treatment may have higher stress levels than most. In this situation, without a strategic self-care in place, you may be feeling far from thankful or joyful. Holiday stress can add a physical burden to your already overburdened body.

But there’s good news. Holiday stress can be significantly reduced with just a little advance planning. Here’s how you can reduce the impact of the holidays on your neuropathy symptoms.

First, begin by understanding the physical toll that stress takes on your body’s systems. Whether it’s mentally or physically based, stress activates the release of hormones that tell your liver to create glucose, which can wreck your blood sugar levels if you’re diabetic. What’s more, people who are stressed and tired are more likely to ignore their glucose levels or stick to a diabetes-friendly diet.

The second strategy for reducing neuropathy aggravating stress during the holidays is to know yourself and what is most stressful for you. Do what you can to control and minimize your exposure to stressful situations. For example, if driving during rush hour frays your nerves, try to vary your route to work to avoid some of that traffic or leave home at a different time than usual. Or consider alternatives, such as public transportation or carpooling. If you hate to cook but feel obligated to provide a lavish Thanksgiving meal, think of a different way to accomplish the same goal, such as ordering an already prepared turkey or asking a family member to share the cooking responsibilities this year.

Third, it’s a great idea from a neuropathy treatment standpoint to teach yourself a couple of simple relaxation exercises now so that they are easily accessed in your memory when you really need them. Start by reconnecting with your breathing—not by trying to change the pattern of your breath, but simple noticing how it feels to breathe. Spend at least twenty seconds relaxing into your breathing pattern. Progressive relaxation, in which you tense the muscles of each part of your body and then relax them, can also be an effective way to deal with holiday stress.

Be sure to talk with your NeuropathyDR® clinician about the best ways for you personally to minimize holiday stress. He or she will be able to prescribe specific types of exercise, supplements, and healthy eating that can support you best during the stress of the holiday season.

If you need help connecting with a NeuropathyDR® clinician in your area who can effectively monitor and treat your neuropathy, click here.

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The Most Important Aspect of Your Neuropathy Treatment

There can be many components to a custom neuropathy treatment plan—but this one element is more important than all the rest!

Neuropathy treatment can be a tricky thing. In many of the common kinds of neuropathy that we see as neuropathy clinicians, the symptoms can be subtle and you may find that lab tests or other diagnostic tools return “normal” results. Sometimes even a nerve conduction study will fail to explain what’s going on.

Or perhaps there are simply slightly abnormal results that are confusing rather than clarifying in terms of a diagnosis. Yet the patient knows that these symptoms are not normal for him or her.

What does this mean for the patient seeking neuropathy treatment?

It means that by far the most important element of your treatment is the human element—that is, the skill and training of your neuropathy clinician.

In short, your neuropathy treatment clinician needs excellent, up-to-date examination skills in order to properly diagnose and treat your symptoms.

Your treating clinician will probably examine several factors, including your sensitivity to things like temperature, pressure (touch), and vibration. He or she will look closely at your range of motion as well as whether you are able to walk on your toes and heels.

Advanced technological testing is wonderful, and often helpful, but there is truly no alternative to a skilled examination by a professional who is well versed in the subtleties of neuropathy treatment and diagnosis.

Bedside manner is important, too, of course. Don’t discount how your neuropathy clinician makes you feel and whether you believe your concerns are being heard. This is all part of the total package you should look for in a neuropathy treatment professional. Your healthcare is in your hands, so remember that you can choose another clinician if this one is not right for you.

What are your questions about neuropathy treatment?

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