Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that is plaguing our population. More than 20 million people are suffering from this condition nationwide. So, what exactly is peripheral neuropathy? For some people it may cause numbness in the hands and feet, making it difficult to maintain balance or to hold on to anything (keys, books, letters, etc.). For others it can mean electrical shocks in the fingers or toes all the way up the arms or legs, making it nearly impossible to fall asleep or stay asleep. This horrible condition robs people of their independence and makes some of the simpler tasks of life seem nearly impossible.
Most people think they must be a diabetic to get peripheral neuropathy, but the fact of the matter is that only 30% of all neuropathies are caused by diabetes. That means 70% is coming from something else. Very often, we find that the patient is suffering from a lack of circulation, preventing their nerves from getting two of the three things they need to survive: oxygen and glucose. The third of these is stimulation, but without appropriate circulation nerves, continue to get damaged and eventually start to die off.
If you’re unable to feel the gas or break pedals, driving not only becomes dangerous for you, but for everyone around you. If you can’t sleep at night, you have no energy for the next day and your body does not heal as well. Once sensation loss becomes bad enough, lack of balance can take away your ability to walk unassisted. In more extreme cases, the lack of blood flow will cause parts of the body to die off and require amputation. All these side effects add up and can take away a person’s independence. Lives that were once big and fulfilling can become very small when you are unable to do the things you love doing.
Until recently, people have only been offered a variety of drugs to reduce their discomfort, while the problem continues to worsen. Lyrica, Neurontin, and Gabapentin may temporarily make you feel better, but the symptoms continue to increase because nothing has been done to fix the problem. These drugs were created as anti-seizure medications and are designed to depress the brain and nervous system. This can decrease pain sensations, but often causes brain fog and decreased balance.
One of the many uses of platelet-rich plasma (PRP), which is generated from the patient’s own body, is to treat this condition. PRP is injected directly into the hands or feet, helping to build a vascular network around the damaged nerves as well as recruiting the body’s own stem cells to help regenerate the damaged tissues. As long as the nerve cell has not died, the body is capable of repairing and regenerating those nerves so that normal sensations can return.