Neuropathy Alternative Treatments
Ted here. It's been two weeks since my EMG test and diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy. Unfortunately the soonest I could get an appointment with a neurologist that specializes in peripheral neuropathy will be in another two weeks.
I couldn't just sit around and wait. And I couldn't write myself a prescription for one of the many drugs doctors are using for peripheral neuropathy. I learned from the support group meeting I attended that there are a wide range of causes and a wide range of tips other peripheral neuropathy sufferers use to give them relief. What works for one often will not work for another. In fact one of the support group members has written a book collecting 365 different tips other PN'ers have found helpful.
The first book I read on the recommended list was Numb Toes and Aching Toes - Coping with Peripheral Neuropathy by John Senoff. Since my neurologist prescribed treatments will have to wait until my appointment I thought I'd see what else was available. His chapter on alternative treatments ranges widely approaches and includes treatments some may regard as quackery but seem to provide relief to some PN'ers. His approach is to expose you to the options and let you find the ones that might help. My approach will be similar but a bit more limited. I will only be talking about things I have tried and either seem to work for me, had no effect, or seemed to have a negative effect. Remember what often works for one person may not work for another and what gives you relief may not work for me. I'll leave it to other PN sufferers to share their experiences here on the website so others can benefit.
I tend to be a skeptic when it comes to alternate treatments but I found John's guidelines for alternative treatment to be a good one that I tend to follow. He suggests that if an alternative therapy does not make outlandish health claims, does not cause negative problems, offers the possibility of relief and does not cost to much he will try it.
The first section in his book on alternative therapies discusses physical therapy. Everyone in the support group meeting I attended also said it was important to remain physically active as much as your individual condition would allow. So some of the things I have tried may not be appropriate for you. My daily exercise has been jogging. Since it's been a while since I was twenty something I started to become concerned about my knees and the diagnosis of Peripheral Neuropathy just added to my concern that the pounding of jogging might not be best for my feet. I was researching exercises that would reduce that and discussion with a physical therapist led me to order a rebounder or minitrampoline. You can find out about rebounders at RebounderComparisons.info
Subsequent sections in the book dealt with things like acupuncture, psychotherapy, biofeedback and other practitioner based therapies. I may choose to try those in the future and will report on my experiences here when I do.
However one area that I could try immediately and has given others relief is nutrients. The B vitamins seem to be particularly important to nerve functioning. It is also important to make sure you were getting sufficient quantities of your other vitamins and minerals. Follow your doctors guidelines so you avoid the problems that can occur from overdosing with some vitamins. So I started taking a Multivitamin and mineral capsule specially designed for allergic and chemically sensitive individuals. (The binders, fillers, artificial colors, etc in my old multivitamins started giving me headaches which stopped when I started with these. I also took an added B vitamin complex tablet.
One therapy that I found out about here on this web site from one of the other readers of this site was Anodyne Light Therapy, probably best known MIRE device on the market that purports the benefits of Monochromatic Infrared Energy (MIRE) therapy using the an LED array. Some people say the light therapy has benefited them, some people say its just the added heat from the LEDs that increases circulation, and some articles say that studies show no effect.
However I did have some knowledge of this since this was recommended as one of the alternate therapies to deal with cluster headaches which I use to suffer from. Again the evidence was inconclusive - some people benefited and some did not but the interesting thing was that Some people in the community started selling the LEDs, circuit boards and parts so you could make your own MIRE LED array. There was even a few entrepenaurs who sold completed units for I think about $100. I purchased the circuit board and LEDs but never put it together. I don't know how this home built device would compare with the $2,000 commercial unit. But if this proves fruitful I may start looking into this again.
But what was intreging to me is that the user on this site said that he couldn't pay the approximately $60 per session and could not afford the two thousand dollar cost of the machine itself. But he reasoned that infrared is infrared and he could just as well get the infrared treatment from the sun. So he started a daily treatment of 30 minutes exposing the soles of his feet to the sun and 30 minutes exposing the tops of his feet to the sun. After three days he reported some significant relief in his symptoms. Now this was by no means a scientific study and as they say results may vary. It may be due to the sun or it may be a placebo effect. (But frankly when you are seeking relief and find a method that helps how important is that to you)
However this certainly fit my description of an alternative treatment that I would try. It promised some relief, didn't seem to have any negative side effects and was reasonable in cost - in this case free. I started out with the same 30 minute per side treatment and I have to admit after the fourth day that it seemed to help me. Although I still do feel some of the numbness I felt before, the tingling I was experiencing seems to have gone away.
I can't say for certain that my improvement was due soley to the sun treatment or that the vitamins or rebounder exercises didn't also play a part because I was doing all three.
After you have gotten your doctors diagnosis, if you would like to try some alternatives which seemed to work for me try the sun treatment first - the cost is certainly reasonable - free. Then try the vitamins. I get the hypoallergetic multi caps for about $8 on the internet and the B complex caps from Costco.
Since it involves a little more expense if your condition allows and you are able to try the rebounder. There are some gentle healing bounces you can do in addition to the more strenuous exercises. Sometime PN sufferers also have problems with balance so this might not be the right exercise for you so check with your doctor first. But one accessory you might consider purchasing with your rebounder is the stabilizer bar which allows hold on to a fixed handle while you bounce to help stabilize you. Keep you bouncing gentle until you know what you can do. As my wife says it is fun and it is a little bit addictive. However you could get injured if you lost your balance or bounced off.
That's what happened to me - I was perhaps getting a little bit overconfident too fast and bounced off the rebounder. Although I landed on the floor on my feet and did not injure myself I could see how someone might injure themselves. Well that's all I have to report for now. Please keep in mind I am not a doctor, just someone with Peripheral Neuropathy reporting on my own experiences. Please share your experiences with Peripheral Neuropathy community here. What helped you may help someone else.
Filed under: Neuropathy Alternative Treatments
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