Can you recall the first time you were told you might suffer from neuropathy?
Chances are unless you already knew someone who suffered from neuropathy – you didn’t know much about the condition. You’ve likely learned quite a bit about the condition since then – but you no doubt came across false or misleading information along the way.
The truth is, there are still a lot of misleading rumors and false information about neuropathy out there. In fact – you may be surprised to learn that some of the information you’ve picked up over the years may not be completely true.
I’ve encountered a number of half-truths and misleading facts over the years. While some are harmless, others can send you down the wrong path or prevent you from getting the best treatment for your nerve damage. To help dispel these myths, I’ve put together a list of four half-truths, misleading rumors, and other misconceptions about neuropathy that a lot of people still believe.
Myth #1 – Nerve Damage is Irreversible
You may have been told at some point that your nerve damage is irreversible. The truth is, it largely depends on the cause and severity of your nerve damage. No one case is the same – but for many people, their nerve damage can, in fact, be slowed and even reversed. This is especially true for those suffering from diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage resulting from a vitamin B12 deficiency.
For those with diabetic neuropathy, managing blood sugar is the single most effective step one can take to both slow and reverse nerve damage. For those whose neuropathy was a result of a vitamin B12 deficiency, replenishing the body’s B12 reserves can both repair and regenerate damaged nerves.
Of course, those with diabetic neuropathy or a B12 deficiency aren’t the only ones who can hold on to the hope of reversing their nerve damage. With the right treatment, I’ve seen individuals with various different causes of their neuropathy experience nerve regeneration and a reduction (and even elimination) of their symptoms.
Myth #2 – Only People With Diabetes Develop Neuropathy
While it’s true that around 70% of people with diabetes will also develop neuropathy, it isn’t the only cause of nerve damage. There are a number of other causes, affecting people from all walks of life. A list of known causes of neuropathy include:
- Vitamin B12 deficiency
- Medications (see list of 65 medications that can cause neuropathy)
- Alcohol Consumption
- Exposure to Toxins
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Repeated Pressure on Nerves
- Kidney Disorders
- Inherited Disorders
Myth #3 – Prescription Medications Cure Neuropathy
There is no prescription medication on the market that “cures” neuropathy. In fact, many of the neuropathy drugs on the market today were originally intended for other medical conditions, such as epilepsy.
Rather than cure neuropathy, the prescription drugs on the market today are designed to mask the pain. They act as a volume knob, temporarily turning down the pain levels – but eventually wearing off. As such, the user never gets permanent, lasting relief.
Not only that, but some independent studies have shown most of the common neuropathy prescriptions on the market today to be “largely ineffective”. In one study published by the Cochrane Library in 2015, researchers found that only 1 in 10 patients taking anti-seizure medications for nerve pain experienced a reduction in pain. And of the 10% that did have a reduction in pain, the reduction was minimal.
Myth #4 – Tingling, Numbness, and Shooting Pains Are the Only Symptoms of Neuropathy
While these are the most common symptoms associated with neuropathy, there are many other problems that can manifest themselves if you’re suffering from nerve damage. Depending on the type of nerves that have been damaged, your symptoms could range from tingling sensations in the hands or feet to heartburn or indigestion.
Your peripheral nervous system has three types of nerves: sensory, motor, and autonomic. Each has a different function and the symptoms of your nerve damage will vary depending on which of these nerve types was damaged. In some cases, only one type of nerve may be damaged, while in others multiple nerve types may have been compromised.
Common Symptoms of Nerve Damage (based on nerve type)
- Pins and needle-like pain (sharp, painful sensations)
- Tingling or numbness
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Loss of balance
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of muscle control (i.e. difficulty gripping things, difficulty walking)
- Cramps or twitching
- Dizziness when standing
- Abnormal heart rate
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive sweating
- Lack of sweat
- Digestive problems
- Bladder problems
- Vision Problems
While there are many other myths and misleading facts floating around out there – these are four of the ones I’ve encountered most often in my years helping people suffering from neuropathy. Some of them can be more harmful than others – depriving the person that has fallen for them of the real information that could make a difference in their life.
What myths or misleading information have you been told over the years – only to discover the truth later on? Share your comments in the comment section below or leave a message on our Facebook Page!