Doctor, Can You Treat My Neuropathy?

We are asked this question daily at the 4 offices of Virginia Family Chiropractic. Our doctors specialize in the treatment of different types of neuropathy and we literally have seen thousands of cases, because of our cutting-edge protocols in utilizing MLS laser and spinal decompression to successfully treat the right candidate.

But the problem in answering the question lies in the fact that “neuropathy” is a general term for pathology, irritation, compression, lack of blood flow, damage, deterioration, or any other disease of a nerve. It is commonly misunderstood to be a “specific” type of a nerve problem. But in reality there are dozens of different neuropathies that may occur within the body and each can be vastly different in presentation, causation, and treatment required.

First, let’s start with the basics. Our main nervous system is composed of our brain and spinal cord. This constitutes our “central” nervous system. The brain is the director and, obviously, the most important component of the entire system, as without it, we cannot function and we die. It is protected by our skull or cranium.

Our spinal cord is composed of a tightly wrapped bundle of thousands of individual spinal nerves that communicate and connect directly with the different parts of the brain and the rest of the body and organs. The spinal cord is contained within the bony vertebral column of the spine for protection from outside damage. We have 24 individual and moveable vertebrae, as well as, a block of bone at the bottom called the sacrum. This system allows for our nerves to exit the spinal cord at regular intervals and perform their function of transmitting messages from the brain to the individual body parts; ie our legs, hands, feet, organs, skin, etc. And the system works both ways, with messages being constantly transmitted from the various parts of the body/organs to the brain as well. It’s a two-way street. The spinal column provides for optimal protection from nerve injury, while still allowing a substantial amount of flexibility so that we can bend, twist, stoop, walk, and function in our daily activities.

The second part of our nervous system includes all nerves that exit the spinal cord, and attach to our different body parts and organs. We refer to these as our peripheral nerves. This includes the part of the nerve that immediately connects to the spinal cord inside the vertebral column of the spine, and continues all the way down to the very end of each nerve at its terminal. There are thousands of individual peripheral nerve fibers contained within large nerve roots that exit the spine.

As an example, a peripheral nerve known as the L5 nerve root exits the spinal cord at the low back and travels down through the buttocks, back of the thigh, calf, and foot; splitting into multiple branches along the way and terminating all the way at the end of the big toe. That is one long nerve considering it can be over a meter long! (But it still is not the longest nerve in our body!)

It’s an impressive system to say the least, but also extremely complicated. (See this Dartmouth University article if you want to have a medical school-level discussion of just one part of our complicated peripheral nervous system .)

Now back to the question of “Doctor, can you treat my neuropathy?

The two primary keys, in any successful neuropathy treatment, start with the following:

First, a doctor must determine which specific nerve or nerves are affected; and second, what is causing the damage to that nerve. Unfortunately, a “peripheral neuropathy” can include disease, damage, or compression that occurs anywhere along a particular nerve—from the beginning to the end.

See our blog next week, as I will be discussing the difference between peripheral neuropathy that originates at the proximal part of our nerve (closest to the spine), versus one that primarily involves the distal part (furthest away from the spine). And too often, doctors miss the fact that patients have damage at both!

15 Comments

  1. […] our last blog post, we discussed the fact that neuropathy is a generic term that refers to a dysfunction, pathology, […]

  2. William Baker on March 6, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    My name is William Baker, in 2009 I was diagnosed Multiple Myeloma. I had ALOT of chemo and in 2010 I had a Bone Marrow transplant. since then I have been in remission. But ever since my chemo treatments I have neuropathy. It started in my hands at first but that has gone away. But that neuropathy has continued in my lower legs and my feet and toes. I take 1600mg of gabapentin three times a day which my neurologist prescribed. It helps some. Do you think your treatment can help? I have the John Hopkins Family Health Plan Insurance, do you accept it. If not and if you can help, what is the cost.

    • CAMERON HATAM on September 10, 2019 at 3:58 pm

      Hi Mr. Baker so sorry for the tardy delay! Yes we can help you with your neuropathy. Please call to make an appointment to see us at 703-370-5300

  3. William Baker on March 6, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    Please reply

  4. richard a. Heinrich on November 1, 2018 at 1:08 pm

    Can a foot neuropathy be caused by having a twisted ankle ?
    Iv’e had several thisted ankles. I ‘ve had foot neuropathy in both feet since 1996 and seen two neurologists, both of which could not find the cause of my problem.
    I think it has crept into my finger tips in the last 4 months.
    Can the condition eventually cause ED ? I’m 80. Retired, USAF, at AFRH.gov.

    • CAMERON HATAM on September 10, 2019 at 4:02 pm

      Hi Mr. Heinrich apologies for our tardiness. Neuropathy can be caused by many factors and could lead to organic pathologies if left untreated. The best bet would be to get an evaluation done and see if we can help you. Please call us at 703-370-5300

  5. Dr. James Warlick on November 8, 2018 at 7:52 am

    Thank you writing this informative post and i am pleased reading this, is totally worth time.

  6. Jackie Coufal on January 17, 2019 at 9:26 am

    Hello,
    My dad lives in North Carolina and his neuropathy is getting worse. How many laser treatments are usually needed to improve his symptoms? His balance is getting worse, he will be 80 in April and very able but his fear of falling due to his legs is increasing. One neurologist diagnosed neuropathy, but no help of course.

    Thank you,
    Jackie Coufal

    • CAMERON HATAM on September 10, 2019 at 4:54 pm

      Hi Ms. Coufal thanks for your comment and apologies for the delay. If your father can come to the northern virginia area for a couple months we can try to help him! Typically it will take 2-3 months. Have a great day

  7. LaDonna Tatum on March 13, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    I have been treated for peripheral neuropathy for about 7 years. I am not diabetic. It’s mainly in my feet. I also have RLS. I am being treated for both with Mirapex and Neurontin. Neither medication has helped. What next?

    • CAMERON HATAM on September 10, 2019 at 4:03 pm

      Good afternoon Ms. Tatus Thanks for reaching out to us. We would start with a thorough evaluation and review of your records! We then tailor a customized treatment plan for you that could include laser and decompression. However, the correct treatment will start with the correct diagnosis and that is what we will do first! Please give us a call at 703-370-5300.

  8. Thomas Jones on June 13, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    I am asking about my diagnosis of idiopathic neuropathy by 3 doctors. What would you do with me if I made an appointment? Age 71, male

    • Cameron Hatam on September 10, 2019 at 9:39 am

      Good morning Mr. Jones, I apologize for the delay. We would examine you on the first visit and score you with a Toronto grading score. Based on our thorough and unique examination we would cater a treatment that would treat the neuropathy in a two prong approach. We would work with the lumbar spine and the feet directly. Many times radicular symptoms from the lower back can contribute to neuropathy and at the same time so can damaged nerves in the feet. With a combination of treating the lumbar discs with decompression and laser and doing laser on the feet the success rates will rise. However, everything starts from the exam process. If you would like to come in for a consult please call us at 703-370-5300. Thank you!

  9. […] our last blog post, we discussed the fact that neuropathy is a generic term that refers to a dysfunction, pathology, […]

Leave a Comment