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About nerve health

Nerves

Nerve HealthDo you have numbness in your extremities, fingers or toes? How about tingling, burning, pins and needles, or loss of sensation? Nerves are responsible for any pain or sensation that you feel. Many who experience nerve health concerns note that it is uncomfortable and often challenging, and allopathic medicine does not address it adequately. Musculoskeletal disorders like carpal-tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, and lower back pain (all nerve-related), cost our nation $45-$54 billion in compensation, lost wages, and lower productivity each year.i

Our body gives signals

Nerve interference may cause different reactions in the body. Abnormal sensations such as pins-and-needles, tingling, burning, or similar feelings are all known as paresthesias. This usually results from nerve damage or irritation due to pressure, pinched nerves, entrapment or certain diseases, and may be reversible. Hands, fingers, feet, toes, back and even the face are common sites for nerve challenges. Numbness usually arises from malfunctioning, damaged or diseased nerve tissue, and is often associated with, or preceded by, abnormal painlike sensations often described as pins-and-needles, prickling, or burning sensations.ii Additionally, 60-70% of people with diabetes usually have, or will experience, mild to severe forms of diabetic nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy. 

Statistics

• The National Academy of Sciences estimates that musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) account for billions of dollars in compensation, lost wages, and lower productivity each year, occur in men twice as much as women, and that workers age 25 to 44 represent 55% of the musculoskeletal injuries.i

• About 1.7 million injuries and illnesses at private businesses required time off from work.iii 

• Repetitive motion, sprains or strains caused 582,300 of the reported injuries.iii 

Back Pain• Truck drivers accounted for more serious illnesses and injuries than any other occupation with 141,100, followed by nonconstruction laborers with 89,100, and nursing aides and orderlies with 75,700.iii

• Sprains, strains, and tears were by far the most common lost-work time injuries, accounting for 43.4% of the total.v

• Of the MSD causes, those caused by repetitive motion — grasping tools, scanning groceries or typing on computer keyboards — resulted in the longest absences from work, a median of 17 days.iii

Reasons for nerve damage symptoms

The underlying cause of numbness, tingling, pain, and burning should be identified and then treated by your doctor. Some of these  include, but are not limited to the following: 

• Remaining in the same seated or standing position for a long period of time, or trauma. 

• Injuring a nerve supplying the body part where you feel the sensation.

   ~ If you have a neck injury, for example, you may feel the sensation anywhere along your arms, hands, or lower body.

   ~ Similarly, a low back injury can cause sciatica — a sensation of numbness or tingling down the back of your leg. 

• Lack of oxygen/blood supply to the area. For example, plaque buildup from atherosclerosis in the legs can cause pain, numbness, and tingling while walking. This is called claudication.

• Pressure on the spinal nerves, like that from a herniated disk or misaligned vertebrae.

• Numbness or tingling in your wrist, fingers, hand, or forearm, known as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

• Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, underactive thyroid, Multiple Sclerosis, seizures, or migraine headaches.

• Abnormal levels of calcium, potassium, or sodium in your body.

• Vitamin B-12 deficiency.

• Transient ischemic attack (TIA) or stroke.

• Certain medications.

• Toxic action on nerves, such as that from lead, mercury, pesticides, organic solvents, carbon monoxide, MSG, Aspartame, alcohol or tobacco.

• Radiation therapy.

• Diseases such as diabetes, alcoholism, AIDS, Lyme disease, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and peripheral vascular disease.

Types of Nerve Issues

What is peripheral neuropathy?

This describes damage to the peripheral nerves, the vast communications network that transmits information from the brain and spinal cord to every other part of the body including your face, arms, legs, torso, and some cranial nerves. All nerves not located in your central nervous system, including the brain and the spinal cord, are peripheral nerves, which includes motor nerves (responsible for voluntary movement), sensory nerves (responsible for sensing temperature, pain, touch, and limb positioning), and autonomic nerves (responsible for involuntary functions such as breathing, blood pressure, sexual function, and digestion). Neuropathies may affect just one nerve (mononeuropathy) or several nerves (polyneuropathy). When damaged, your nerves can’t communicate properly, and that  is communication causes symptoms such as pain or numbness. This often affects people with diabetes and auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Certain vitamin deficiencies, some medications, and alcoholism can also damage peripheral nerves. Other causes include mechanical pressure such as compression or entrapment, direct trauma, penetrating injuries, contusions, fracture or dislocated bones, or even staying in one position too long. Common symptoms include weakness; numbness; paresthesia; and pain in the arms, hands, legs and/or feet. It’s estimated, that peripheral neuropathy may have over 100 different causes.

What is paresthesia?

Abnormal burning or prickling sensations which are most often felt in the hands, arms, legs, or feet, but may occur in any part of the body, is known as paresthesia. It may also be described as tingling or numbness, skin crawling, buzzing, pins and needles, or itching. Conditions that can exacerbate paresthesia include spinal disc protrusion, diabetes, hypothyroidism, vitamin B12 deficiencies, vertebral subluxation, alcoholism, heavy metal poisoning, nerve entrapment syndromes (such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome), rheumatoid arthritis, or systemic lupus erythematosus.iv

Carpal Tunnel SyndromeWhat is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?

This is when tendons and ligaments in the wrist become enlarged, often from inflammation, after being aggravated. Wrist bones may become displaced due to trauma or over use, setting up an inflammatory response. The narrowed tunnel of bones and ligaments in the wrist pinches the nerves that reach the fingers and the muscles at the base of the thumb and the first symptoms usually appear at night. Symptoms may include burning, tingling numbness in the fingers, especially the thumb, index, and middle fingers.iv

 What is diabetic neuropathy?

This is a nerve disorder caused by poorly controlled diabetes. Symptoms can include numbness, tingling, burning, pins and needles, and sometimes pain in the hands, feet, or legs.iv, v

Signs and symptoms of nerve disorders

• Symptoms depend on the type of nerve(s) affected (e.g., motor, sensory, autonomic) and where the nerve is located in the body. One or more nerve types may be damaged.

• Muscle weakness, cramps, and spasms are associated with motor nerve damage. In some cases, there may be loss of balance and coordination.

• Sensory nerve damage can produce tingling, numbness, and pain. Pain associated with sensory nerve damage is variously described as sensation of wearing an invisible glove or sock; burning, freezing, or electric-like; or extreme sensitivity to touch.

• If the autonomic nerves are damaged, involuntary functions may be affected. Symptoms that ca n result from this type of damage include abnormal blood pressure and heart rate, reduced ability to perspire, constipation, bladder dysfunction (e.g., incontinence), and sexual dysfunction.

Painful feetComplications

Untreated peripheral neuropathy may result in permanent loss of nerve function, tissue damage, and muscle atrophy. It is important to receive proper treatment and management of this condition to reduce the risk for irreversible damage and other serious complications.

Information about pain

Chronic pain can cause sleeplessness and a decline in quality of life. Pain sufferers often experience a disruption in their ability to perform daily tasks and may suffer from depression. Symptoms of depression include apathy, feelings of isolation, frustration, insomnia, loss of appetite, and memory loss.

Helpful hints

Treatments may be available. Treating the underlying illness may decrease or eliminate symptoms. For instance, if it is caused by diabetes, controlling blood sugar levels will likely help you. Certain exercises may help stretch shortened or contracted muscles. There are also non-drug therapies which may include NerveFix®, chiropractic, physiotherapy, acupuncture, prolotherapy, massage therapy, yoga, exercise, cold application, relaxation training, biofeedback, warm baths, wearing shoes that fit well, and orthotics (orthopedic shoe supports).

Life style suggestions

When you have pain throughout your body, you may be tempted to pass up many activities with family and friends. But moderate exercise is one of the best things you can do for your muscles and pain. Regular moderate exercise helps manage pain and keep muscles and bones healthy.

BODY STRETCHES

Neck:

  1. Slowly tuck your chin down to your chest. With the chin tucked, slowly rotate your head toward one shoulder until you feel a gentle stretch in your neck muscles. Hold for approximately 10 counts and relax, with 10 - 15 reps per side.
  2. Slowly tuck your chin to your chest until you feel a gentle stretch in the muscles along the back of your neck. Hold for approximately 10 counts and relax with 10-15 reps.
  3. With your mouth closed and leading with the chin, slowly tilt your head back until you feel a gentle stretch in the muscles along the front of your neck. Hold for approximately 10 counts and relax, with 10 - 15 reps.
  4. With your head in line with your shoulders, slowly bend your neck to the side until you feel a gentle stretch along the opposite side of your neck, with 10-15 reps.

Back:

  1. The most common technique is to simply bend forward at the waist, with legs relatively straight, and try to touch the toes and hold this position for a few counts.
  2. If this approach is not well tolerated, sit on a chair placing the legs straight out in front on another chair, then reach forward to try to touch the toes. One leg at a time may be stretched.
  3. One of the least stressful techniques is to lie on your back and pull the leg up and straighten by holding onto a towel that is wrapped behind the foot. One leg at a time may be stretched.
  4. Lie down on your back with knees bent, pull both knees to your chest, keeping the back relaxed. Pause for 45-60 seconds and release. Repeat two times, once per day.

 Wrist:

  1. Gently flex wrist by moving one hand toward its arm, like stretching to touch fingers to same arm. You may use other hand to help. Do this 5-10 times, twice daily.

Ankle:

  1. Sit with legs straight and flex foot forward, pausing for a few counts and then flex foot back toward body and pause for a few seconds. Do this 10-12 reps, 2 times daily.

References

  1. Haerer AF, “The exteroceptive sensations.” ed. DeJong’s, The Neurologic Examination, 5th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1992:47-66
  2. Asbury AK. “Numbness, tingling, and sensory loss.” Isselbacher KJ, et al., eds. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine. 13th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994:133-6.
  3. Thompson HG, Rowland LP. “Pain and Paresthesias.” Rowland LP, ed. Merritts Textbook of Neurology. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1989:28-31.
  4. “Diseases of the peripheral nervous system.” Scientific American Medicine. New York: Scientific American, 1994;11:1-15.
  5. Dawson DM. “Entrapment neuropathies of the upper extremities.” N Engl J Med 1993; 329:2013-8. 
  6. Dawson DM, Hallett M, Millender LH, eds. Entrapment Neuropathies. 2nd ed. Boston: Little, Brown, 1990:93-124.
  7. Swanson PD. “Signs and symptoms in neurology.” Disorders of Sensation. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1984:206-302.
  8. Adams RD, Victor M, eds. Principles of Neurology. 5th ed. New York:McGraw-Hill, 1993.
  9. Donaghy M. “Toxic and environmental disorders of the nervous system.” Walton J, et. al., ed.. Diabetic neuropathy. Am Neurol 1984; 15:2-12.
  10. Diseases of the Nervous System. 10th ed. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1993:513-29.
  11. Burke D. “Microneurography, impulse condition, and paresthesias.” Muscle Nerve. 1993;16:1025-32.

i National Academy of Sciences

ii Diabetic Neuropathy. Ann Neurol 1984; 15:2-12.

iii Bureau Of Labor Statistics

iv The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health

v NIDDK

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