Tingling and numbness in your arms and legs are common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. When the condition is due to compressed nerves, chiropractic treatment to relieve the pressure or help manage pain caused by nerve damage is an option to consider when conventional medical treatments fail.
Peripheral Neuropathy—What It is
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which you have nerve damage to the peripheral nerves—the nerves that carry messages from the brain and spinal cord to the body to signal pain or tell the muscles how to move. In addition to numbness and prickling sensations in the hands, feet, and limbs, neuropathies that involve motor or sensory nerves can cause symptoms such as muscle weakness, burning pain, cramps, decreased reflexes, or impaired movement.
Just like the symptoms can vary among individuals, so can the progression of peripheral neuropathy. While symptoms generally start in the toes and feet or fingers and hands, in some people, intermittent pain and abnormal sensations spread through the upper and lower extremities slowly over time. For other people, symptoms spread quickly. However, some individuals never suffer symptoms in areas other than their fingers or toes.
Chiropractic Treatment—How It Improves Symptoms of Nerve Damage
Chiropractic treatment may help relieve symptoms that result from degenerative changes in the spine that cause joints in the spine to press on the roots of spinal nerves. A chiropractor can relieve pressure by releasing impinged (pinched) nerve roots.
Since the nerve roots leaving the spinal cord are exposed, they are prone to injury or pressure from spinal vertebrae or muscles and soft tissues surrounding the spine. When bone or connective tissue hits against a nerve, it can cause irritation or pressure.
Through the use of spinal manipulation, a chiropractor realigns the bones of your spine to reduce nerve pressure. Realignment of cervical vertebrae in particular may help improve the transmission of nerve impulses between the brain and body.
Other Nonstandard Treatments Chiropractors Use
Although spinal adjustment and manipulation are the primary treatment modalities that chiropractors use, some chiropractors recommend infrared therapy and photomodulation to treat symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. The use of infrared photo energy may help increase circulation, improve sensation, and reduce pain. However, while the use of low-level laser therapy may provide temporary pain relief, more research is needed to determine its long-term effectiveness.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is another treatment technique some chiropractors use to reduce or alleviate nerve pain. The treatment involves the use of low-intensity electrical currents to stimulate damaged nerves. Electrodes attached to the skin send a small electrical current to the tissue underneath, changing the perception of pain.