Dr. Weyrich's Naturopathic Functional Medicine Notebook is a collection of information on topics of interest to Dr. Weyrich that may be of interest to the world wide audience. Due to limitations of time, not all information that Dr. Weyrich knows or would like to further research is published here. Dr. Weyrich welcomes financial contributions to support specific research topics, as well as copies of non-free access journal articles for him to review on a topic. Constructive criticism is also welcome.


Overview of Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is any damage or dysfunction of the nerves outside the spinal cord and brain. It can occur anywhere in the body - it can be localized or widespread.

Complimentary and alternative treatments for peripheral neuropathy that are considered below include:

  • Low Dose Naltrexone

Etiology of Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy is generally classified as either widespread or local, as discussed below.

Widespread Peripheral Neuropathy

Widespread peripheral neuropathy is usually due to some systemic problem, for example:

  • Diabetes, porphyria, uremia, or other systemic metabolic disease
  • Drug, alcohol, or toxin side effects
  • Too much or too little of the various B vitamins (or an imbalance)
  • Autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis
  • Guillian Barre

Local Peripheral Neuropathy

Local peripheral neuropathy is usually due to truama, for example:

  • Local trauma, e.g. crush injuries
  • Spinal column subluxations, fixations, or degenerative disc disease that results in compression of nerve roots exiting segments of the spine
  • Brachial, lumbar or sacral nerve plexus damage
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • Foot drop (peroneal nerve)
  • Wrist drop (radial nerve)
  • Tumors
  • Bell's palsy
  • Trigeminal neuralgia

Diagnosis of Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy can cause many symptoms, including:

  • Pain or tingling
  • Muscle twitching
  • Loss of sense of touch (numbness)
  • Loss of muscle or organ function.
  • Autonomic nervous system disruption:
    • ED
    • Cardiac arrhythmias
    • Gastrointestinal problems (gastroparesis)
    • Bladder problems

Treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy

Sometimes treatment can at least partially cure, but often treatment can only slow or stop the progression of the disease process. The sooner treatment is begun, the better the prognosis.

In general, treatment is based on identifying and treating the cause:

  • Correct spinal problems
  • Correct metabolic problems (e.g. blood sugar)
  • Correct nutritional imbalances and deficiencies
  • Avoid toxic medications and environmental toxins
  • Control blood pressure
  • Ensure proper blood flow and lymphatic drainage

Please see conventional, complimentary and alternative medical treatments for important background information regarding the different types of medical treatments discussed below.

Conventional Treatments

In the following paragraphs, NNT is the Number of patients Needed to Treat in order to get a 30-50% (moderate) reduction in pain; NNH is the Number of Patients needed to treat in order to cause Harm sufficient for the patient to discontinue treatment. The first number represents the effectiveness of the treatment and the second number represents the safety/tolerability.

A recent meta-analysis [Finnerup2015] identified the following palliative drugs as being first-line, second line, or third line based on effectiveness and safety profile:

First Line

  • Amitriptyline (Tricyclic) 25-150mg/day; NNT = 3.6, NNH = 13.4
  • Gabapentin (Anti-epileptic) 1200-3600mg/day in divided doses; NNT = 6.3, NNT = 25.6
  • Duloxetine (SNRI) 150-225mg/day; NNT = 6.4, NNH = 11.8
  • Venlafaxine (SNRI) 25-150mg/day; NNT = 6.4, NNH = 11.8
  • Pregabalin (Anti-epileptic); NNT = 7.7
  • Gabapentin ER/Enacarbil (Anti-epileptic) NNT = 8.3, NNH = 31.9

Second Line

  • Lidocaine patch
  • Capsacicin 8% patch; NNT = 10.6
  • Tramadol ER (Opioid+SNRI) 400 mg/day; NNT = 4.7, NNH = 12.6

Third Line

  • Morphine (Opiate) 90-240mg/day; NNT = 4.3, NNH = 11.7 (concern for abuse)
  • BoTox-A; NNT = 1.9

Insufficient Data

  • Tapentadol (Opioid+SNRI)
  • Sativex (Cannabinoid) (concern for abuse)

Ineffective

  • Topiramate (Anti-epileptic); NNH = 5.1
  • Zonisamide (Anti-epileptic); NNH = 2.0
  • oxcarbazepine/carbamazepine (Anti-epileptic); NNH = 5.5
  • Topical Clonidine
  • SSRI
  • NMDA antagonists

Harmful

  • Valproate (Anti-epileptic)
  • Levetiracetam
  • Mexiletine

Naturopathic, Complimentary and Alternative Treatments

Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN)

[LdnResearchTrust_conditions] reports that peripheral neuropathy is a condition that LDN could help. Dr. Weyrich has been trained in the use of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN). However, Dr. Weyrich has not treated any cases of peripheral neuropathy with LDN.

Please see What is Low Dose Naltrexone? for more information.

Other

  • Spinal manipulation
  • Acupuncture
  • SCENAR
  • Diathermy
  • Ultrasound
  • Herbs
  • Nutrition

References for Peripheral Neuropathy