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Next Step Foot & Ankle Clinic

How Dietary Supplements Can Help with Neuropathy

"Hi, this is Dr. Silvester and I’m going to talk to you about just in general why we use supplements in patients with neuropathy. We really have worked hard at trying to establish a neuropathy relief center at our clinic. What we’re after is to try to give the patient, besides just the normal pharmaceutical treatment that you can get at most of the doctors around that just give you a pill to take and it makes you feel a little better, but really doesn’t solve the problem - we try to give you solutions to get your neuropathy better, to improve them. We’ve invested a lot in trying to learn about supplements and the role that they play, using pharmaceuticals appropriately to give you relief, using electrical nerve signal therapy with local anesthetic block to try and regenerate nerves, laser therapy has been very effective at helping nerves get better - not just feel better, but also get better. Also, there’s surgery, in the right person.

Sometimes nerves are pinched in association with having neuropathy the nerves can be entrapped, just like carpal tunnel syndrome can cause pain under you hand, the same thing can happen in your foot and lower extremity, so by decompressing those nerves, you can have significant relief and dramatically improve nerve function, and in the case of patients with diabetes, much lower risk of future diabetic foot ulcers, and that’s been demonstrated by a lot of studies that have been done.

How supplements work basically is, a lot of them are geared towards helping the cell, the nerve cell, have enough energy. The nerve cells in general are very high energy consumers, and they’re very small, very long, skinny nerves and if they don’t have enough energy, they can’t heal themselves and repair themselves or maintain this electro-gradient that’s across the nerve.

For example, how a nerve carries an impulse is there’s an electrical current and there’s a little gate that opens and lets calcium in and out of the cell, and it creates an electrical current across this nerve. To establish that, the cell has to pump that calcium out to keep that gradient there. It has to work all of the time, and what happens when you get not enough energy, those gates just stay open, the nerve doesn’t function and you start getting feelings like burning, tingling, electrical sensation, and eventually numbness because the nerve doesn’t work. I’ve actually had patients who I’ve operated on without local anesthetic and they haven’t felt it a bit because they’re so profoundly neuropathic - their nerves are so far damaged that they don’t feel anything.

That’s a major cause of falls, it’s a major cause of ulcers, it’s a major cause of calluses - I’ve had patients break their feet and not feel it - they come in and they have a swollen, red foot and they don’t know why, and you take x-rays and they have all of these fractures inside of their foot. There are ways, if you catch it early enough, and use the right supplements and keep your blood sugar down, that you can preserve your nerve function until late in life and have a healthy life. Thanks for listening."