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Numb Toes and Aching Soles: Coping with Peripheral Neuropathy

by John A Senneff

listed in complementary medicine

[Image: Numb Toes and Aching Soles: Coping with Peripheral Neuropathy]

Peripheral neuropathy (PN) blights the lives of about 15 million people in the US alone; sadly however, many sufferers and physicians alike don't appear to have even heard of it, let alone be able to treat the symptoms effectively. This horrendously painful condition appears to be one of those 'Cinderella' afflictions which makes an absolute misery of people's lives, as it did the author's, a sufferer of some ten years. In this disorder, the sensory and/or motor nerve cells of the peripheral (outside of the spinal cord) nervous system become damaged, from a wide range of causes, ranging from diseases such as diabetes and AIDS, to common environmental hazards, including toxins, poisons, drugs, nutritional imbalances, medical treatments such as chemotherapy and through repetitive strains caused by common everyday working activities, such as typing (carpal tunnel syndrome).

The resulting symptoms, generally experienced in the extremities – feet, legs, hands and arms, include, for sensory neuropathies, burning, tingling sensations, electric shocks, shooting and aching pains and extreme sensitivity to touch. Symptoms of motor neuropathies include weakness in the feet, ankles, hands and wrists.

The author started to experience numbness, tingling, burning, prickling sensations which radiated all over his feet when he jogged during the mid 1980s. Eventually his soles became progressively deadened and it really hurt to walk barefoot over hard surfaces. Although he went through the complete route of conventional and alternative treatments, from sports medicine to acupuncture, he didn't even get properly diagnosed until about 1998, by a neurologist.

John Senneff's amazement regarding the apparent lack of knowledge about peripheral neuropathy spurred him on to assemble this incredibly comprehensive tome (300 pages), which brings together from diverse sources just about every aspect of peripheral neuropathy.

Re treatment approaches, the author covers all the pain medications, including: non-opioid drugs, topical medications and analgesics and their costs; opioids; haematological treatments; nerve-based treatments, including nerve blocks and direct nerve stimulation; alternative treatments: physical therapy; psychotherapy, including relaxation and meditation, biofeedback, self-hypnosis, prayer; hyperbaric oxygen therapy; acupuncture; touch therapies, including massage, reflexology, reiki, qigong and therapeutic touch; magnets; chelation. There is also a comprehensive chapter on nutrition: the B vitamins; minerals; herbs; essential fatty acids, glutamine; coenzyme Q10, SAMe; DMSO and MSM. Included also are a range of experimental or unapproved drugs, special considerations for diabetes and HIV sufferers, and an entire chapter devoted to coping: exercise, temperature – hot and cold, sleeping, foods and diet, and special considerations for the feet and hands.

However, by far the most valuable parts of the book to the general reader, and particularly to the sufferer who is contemplating surgery, acupuncture or whatever treatment currently on offer to them, are the comments from hundreds of people. These show the incredible diversity of treatment approaches inflicted on people, and to some extent, the diversity of responses to the same therapy. For example, from the nine comments re acupuncture, the majority did not find acupuncture helpful. There was also a mixed response to the more invasive approaches, such as nerve blocks, which tended to provide only temporary relief. Some of the best results occurred with massage, exercise, physical therapy, magnets (especially insoles) and chelation therapy.

There are caveats regarding comments prior to each comments section: "comments re magnets are not to be considered medical opinions and should not be relied upon as such – always consult your doctor". The comments regarding magnets were very impressive, with eight of the nine people expressing significant relief, as in the following extract:

"…I bought magnetic innersoles… At first I was sceptical but I have been wearing them for almost three weeks with lots and lots of success. I have had PN for 8 years and have had no luck with meds and presently take none for PN. I put the inner soles in and slowly I found I could do more on my feet and I even went to a mall today. I stayed all day which I have not done since pre-PN days. I go to a local Y and I am actually enjoying my time there. I am not consumed by pain. I smile more, I look happier and I feel happier. We all know that type of pain that comes with PN where if someone walked by with a loaded gun, you want to beg them to shoot you. You know that hair raising, nerve wrenching pain that makes life unbearable. Well the magnets for me, have given me relief. The pain is much less, not gone, but much, much less. I have a new positive attitude and refuse to let this PN take that from me."

This book will do a great deal to provide much needed information about this condition to practitioner and patient alike. John Senneff has done a great service.

* Numb toes and Aching Soles: Coping with Peripheral Neuropathy may be ordered ($19.95, plus $6 postage and handing) from MedPress, PO Box 691546, San Antonio, TX 78269. Tel: 001 210 699 9007; email:

Sandra Goodman PhD
MedPress, USA

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