DR. DOUGLAS CARON, a local chiropractor, poses in his office on Thursday. Caron started offering treatment for peripheral neuropathy, or weakness, pain and numbness caused by nerve damage, in December 2022.
Local chiropractor Douglas Caron has started offering treatment to relieve pain and numbness caused by peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy is pain, numbness and weakness caused by peripheral nerve damage, according to the Mayo Clinic. Peripheral nerves include nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord. Usually, peripheral neuropathy affects the hands and feet, but it can affect digestion, urination and circulation, too.
While peripheral neuropathy isn’t life-threatening on its own, its symptoms can stop patients from living their lives to the fullest.
Numbness can be dangerous because it can lead to falls and make it hard to notice wounds, which can become infected. Pain can harm patients’ quality of life by making it hard to complete daily tasks, Caron said.
There is no single cause of peripheral neuropathy. Diabetes, infections, injuries, vitamin deficiencies and more can lead to it. According to the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy, the term refers not to a single disease but to a wide range of disorders involving peripheral nerve damage.
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Strokes claims over 20 million people in the U.S. have peripheral neuropathy. As of yet, there is no cure, though there are treatments available.
Caron said he has researched medical issues like peripheral neuropathy for about four years, and he recently completed training on treating the condition in Salt Lake City. The primary treatment he uses involves the Rebuilder, a medical device that sends small electrical signals to the nerves of the affected areas. This encourages more communication between nerves, and the manufacturer claims it can improve circulation.
Currently, the Rebuilder is approved to treat pain relief by the Food and Drug Administration.
Typically, the treatment can be completed mostly at home, requiring about 30 minutes a day. More intensive care, Caron said, lasts about 90 days.
Caron said he has heard from several patients that the treatment reduced pain, tingling and numbness in affected areas.
Though Caron said the device can relieve pain and improve patients’ quality of life, it’s not a cure.
“I do not tell anyone they’re cured for life,” Caron said.
The procedure works best when paired with nutrition and lifestyle changes, which can help treat the underlying condition, he said. For instance, peripheral neuropathy is less likely to worsen in diabetic patients if proper blood sugar levels are maintained. It’s also best for patients to contact a medical professional soon if they notice symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, Caron said.
Like cancer, peripheral neuropathy progresses in stages. In Stage One, the patient will notice infrequent symptoms like numbness, pain and tingling. In Stage Two, the pain can become constant.
In Stage Three, the pain becomes more intense and can have a large impact on a patient’s day-to-day life. In Stage Four, a patient will experience complete numbness, according to the Institute for Advanced Reconstruction.
The effectiveness of treatment depends on the stage, Caron said. The further along the peripheral neuropathy has progressed, the less effective certain types of treatment will be. Treating peripheral neuropathy early can prevent incurable nerve damage. This is why contacting a medical professional as early as possible is important.
The Mayo Clinic lists multiple treatments for neuropathy which can help reduce symptoms. Treatment plans vary based on the neuropathy’s causes but can include medications, electrical stimulation, physical therapy and surgery.