The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that more than 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy (PN), a condition that results from damage to nerve networks in the hands, feet, ankles and other parts of the body.
At Health N.O.W. Chiropractic Center, 2146 State Road, Auburn, patients find relief from symptoms ranging from mild to disabling, including numbness, tingling, twitching, throbbing and stabbing pain. They also avoid further damage that a lack of feeling can cause, including wounds to the feet that don’t heal, which could eventually lead to amputation.
“The symptoms can range from that ‘pins and needles’ feeling to severe pain,” explains Dr. David M. Gafken, DC. “Diabetes is the No. 1 cause of PN.”
Patients come into the center for a thorough assessment, which includes family history, existing conditions and testing to determine if they are candidates for chiropractic treatment courses.
“Patients who fall inside certain ranges undergo testing to find where the source of the problem is,” Gafken explains. “These can include a full metabolic workup, blood sugar/glucose reading (AIC), an evaluation of genetic components plus cigarette and alcohol usage. Based on the results of these tests, we arrive at a score which reflects the severity of the PN they are experiencing. Then we determine if they are good candidates for a treatment course or if the nerve damage has progressed too far to treat effectively.”
For patients who fall into the treatable score range, Gafken says laser is one of the methods he uses. Laser therapy involves the use of low-level waves that can be set at one of four depths, depending on how deep into the muscle and bone tissue the damage has occurred. Laser can successfully be used to increase blood flow and repair nerve damage to the ankles and feet, hands and fingers, and other areas of the body.
“One of the main areas we address is the lower spine, using decompression therapy combined with laser treatment to reduce inflammation, encourage stronger blood flow and to build new pathways to healthier nerve networks,” Gafken adds. “The decompression course takes place over a six- to eight-week period, teamed with other appropriate soundwave electrical methods.”
Gafken describes the course as quite effective as compared to the medications usually prescribed to treat PN.
“The drugs used to treat PN are high-powered and can have significant side effects,” he explains.
Gafken explains that the normal PN score for patients is 74.
“We had a woman whose PN score was 19 to 20 when she came to the center,” Gafken says. “When her course of treatment was complete, her score had improved to 60.”
Along with relief from the discomfort of PN, patients also benefit from improved sleep patterns, he says.
“After treatment, patients can walk better and more safely,” Gafken says. “This is vital because patients who cannot feel their feet are prone to falls and other situations in which they can cut or damage the affected tissue. We can save them the loss of their toes and feet because the treatment course helps them get more efficient blood flow back into their feet and ankles.”
With improved capabilities, patients are better able to resume or initiate exercise programs and enjoy participating in sports without fear or discomfort, Gafken says. They can also work at their jobs and around the house and yard, a benefit that directly improves their quality of life.
“How active they are depends on their overall health and age, but we want them to be as active as they can be without overdoing it,” Gafken concludes.
For more information on PN treatment, or to make an appointment, call (260) 920-8811. Learn more at seekhealthnow.com. ❚