Frequently Asked Questions

Things you need to know

Neuropathy refers to the general problem of nerve damage. The term is often used, however, to refer to a more specific condition known as peripheral neuropathy—damage to the nerves outside of the central nervous system. It is important to note that neuropathy is not a disease, but a condition caused by an underlying problem.
If you’ve found this site, you’re doing pretty well already. There’s no magic bullet for finding a good doctor to treat Neuropathy. Use this website to educate yourself about Neuropathy. Look for doctors like us who specialize in treating Neuropathy and who seem to make the most sense talking about it on their websites. This is a progressive disease. You need to start treatment as quickly as possible. The longer it takes, the more the disease has time to progress, and the less effective any treatment will be.
Almost any body part can be affected, but we see it most commonly in the toes, feet and legs -- the furthest extremities. And we can treat Neuropathy most effectively in the toes, feet and legs.
We are against treating Neuropathy with pain medications for a number of reasons:

Pain medications don't work. They don't cure Neuropathy. They don't even slow it down. All they do is provide temporary relief while your Neuropathy continues to ravage your nerves. It's a little like covering up the "oil" or "battery" light on the dashboard of your car. That light is your car's way of telling you something is wrong. Same thing when your body hurts. Pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. It's asking you for help. Masking the pain is like covering up the light on your car's dashboard. It makes it easier for you to ignore what your body is trying to tell you, but it doesn't do anything about the reason your body is sending the message.
In most cases, doctors just don't know. There's a long list of causes including: Diabetes, chemotherapy, Lyme Disease, cancer, HIV-AIDS, poor nutrition, alcoholism and trauma (shocks or injury). Almost anything that affects the normal working of your body can lead to Neuropathy. Even heredity seems to play a part.
There are lots of them. The major symptoms include: Pain (all kinds), numbness, tingling, weakness, loss of reflexes, problems moving, problems with balance, feeling hot or cold, and not being able to feel where your feet are. Some of these symptoms can make it difficult to sleep and difficult to walk or get around. And all of these symptoms can lead to depression and other mood changes.
Neuropathy can come on suddenly, within a few days. It can also develop slowly over several months, or even several years. It seems to depend on what is causing your particular Neuropathy. Neuropathy related to trauma progresses quickly. Neuropathy related to toxic substances progresses more slowly, usually over several months. And hereditary Neuropathy can take years until it is full blown.
Idiopathic, Diabetic, Peripheral, Long Fiber, Short Fiber, Demyelinating, Hereditary, Mono, Mono Complex, and Polyneuropathy, to name the major categories.
You can’t be sure. It’s a judgment call made by your doctor. But if you have one or more of the symptoms described above PLUS one or more of the following risk factors, then it’s likely you have Neuropathy. When you see the doctors at NPD, they will be able to make a definitive diagnosis.
Estimates are that 2%-10% of the world population and approximately 8% of Americans over 55 suffer with Neuropathy. The estimates jump to as high as 60%, though, if you are an American with Diabetes.
Diabetes is the single largest risk factor, particularly if you are also overweight: Neuropathy occurs in approximately 60% of people with diabetes. If your diabetes is poorly controlled and you are overweight, the risk increases, but even people with just elevated blood sugar (not yet even diabetic) are at increased risk.
Other risk factors include:
Autoimmune & Metabolic Diseases: Lupus, HIV-AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, Amyloidosis, Guillain-Barre Syndrome

Hyperthyroidism or Hypothyroidism Hereditary Disorders such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT) and Dejerine-Sottas Syndrome (a subtype of CMT that usually involves children)

Trauma and/or Infection-based diseases: An auto accident, industrial accident, bad cold, cough, sore throat, pneumonia, chronic infection, Lyme Disease, Hepatitis B, Leprosy, repetitive motion stress or carpal tunnel syndrome. Anything that leads to the compression of a nerve is a major risk factor for Neuropathy.

Chronic Kidney or Liver Failure Ischemic Disorders: Anything that reduces the oxygen delivered to your nerves because of interrupted or reduced blood flow -- a heart attack, for example.

Vitamin Deficiency (especially vitamin B12) Alcohol Abuse - Apparently not the alcohol itself, in most cases. Rather, the overall poor health and poor nutrition that goes along with alcohol abuse, which leads to vitamin deficiencies and then Neuropathy.

Paraneoplastic Disorders (Tumors) Exposure To Toxic Substances - any drug or chemical which is toxic. This includes chemicals used on the job, in the home, or even some prescription medications like Chemotherapy. Vincristine, Cisplatin and Paclitaxel (vinca alkaloids, platinum-based drugs, and taxanes) are particularly dangerous with respect to risk factors for Neuropathy.

In short, almost anything that hurts your body, stresses it, or is bad for it can trigger a breakdown of your nerves. The breakdown is usually associated with some kind of circulatory problems, which means your nerves are not getting enough blood supply. That, in turn, means your nerves are not getting enough oxygen and other nutrients which they depend on the blood to bring to them. As a result, they start to break down. The tough Myelin sheath (covering) which protects your nerves can start to break down and peel away from your nerves. And when that process is far enough along, painful enough, or debilitating enough, we say you have Neuropathy.

What Can You Do?

Contact our office at 253-299-9739 to schedule an initial consultation with our Doctor to determine if you are a candidate for care. After carefully studying your case history and exam findings, we will sit down and explain our recommended plan of action for you. After answering any questions you may have about the recommended plan, you may begin your care.