Peripheral Neuropathy Solutions In Pittsburgh PA

Meet Bill

Over the last few years, 65-year-old Bill Hallinan experienced a variety of symptoms in his legs and feet. These symptoms included numbness, tingling, balance problems, burning pain, weakness, and feelings that his feet were too cold. It was causing problems with his mobility. Simple things like going for a walk, going up and down stairs, and doing yard work were becoming more and more difficult.

Peripheral Neuropathy 1

The trouble began five years ago. It started as a weird tingle. Eventually, he started to notice the frequency and intensity of his symptoms were getting worse and worse. His balance was getting bad. Bill suffered three falls over the past six months. The last one was a tumble down the stairs that went to the basement. The cellar floor was made of concrete and Bill hit his head.

Experiences with Physicians

Worried about this problem, Bill decided he needed help. His wife made an appointment for him to see the family doctor. His physician had been treating him for the past 19 years. He was by all accounts a trusted friend of the family. The doctor said there was nothing he could do, but ended up referring Bill to a neurologist.

The neurologist ordered a test called a needle EMG. This involved inserting needles in his legs and measuring the results with a piece of special equipment. The neurologist came back and told Bill he had peripheral neuropathy and wrote him a prescription for Gabapentin. The drug made him feel sleepy and groggy. However, it did not relieve him of his symptoms (the most troubling one being balance problems).

With the problem getting worse as time went by, Bill went back a year later to complain about it. He said the medicine he was taking did not cure his problem. The doctor gave him a new prescription for a stronger dose. That also did not cure the neuropathy.

What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral Neuropathy is damage to the complex web of nerves that branches off the spinal cord, to go down the legs and arms. It is a progressive, degenerative disease that gets worse over time.

Enter Dr. Kevin Smith

Bill’s neighbor told him about a guy he knew who had been helping people with neuropathy. This doctor was in the South Hills area of Pittsburgh, about 20 minutes from the city. Bill looked him up online and read some of the reviews of people who also had this problem. He was surprised to learn how many people were also dealing with the same troubles.

Bill called Dr. Kevin Smith at the Chronic Conditions Center. Their first point of contact was a phone call. He told Dr. Smith about his problems, and how much it was affecting his quality of life. Dr. Smith suggested he come to the office so they could do a consultation and a special neuropathy examination.

When he got to the office, Dr. Smith spent a considerable amount of time asking him questions about his medical background and the nature of his problem. The doctor seemed to genuinely care and took the time to carefully investigate Bill’s background (much like a detective who is trying to solve a crime).

He then did an examination which consisted of various tests Bill had never seen done by any physician he ever went to. This included circulatory tests, an extensive balance evaluation, sensory and motor function tests, and more. Bill was impressed by the vast knowledge Dr. Smith had and his willingness to act as a guide & help him discover the root causes of the nerve problems.

What Causes Peripheral Neuropathy?

Dr. Smith said there are over 100 root causes for peripheral neuropathy. Some of the more common ones are diabetes, trauma, poor circulation, spinal problems (like arthritis, spinal stenosis, or a herniated disc), certain medications, and autoimmune diseases.

The Standard of Care

Doctors treat neuropathy with drugs that may temporarily reduce some symptoms. The drugs have names such as Gabapentin, Neurontin, and Lyrica. These medications are classified as anti-seizure drugs (formulated to treat epilepsy). The way they work is to slow down the brain so you can’t feel your feet. These drugs don’t slow down, reverse, or stop the progress of the disease whatsoever.

What Is It Like Living With Peripheral Neuropathy?

Living with peripheral neuropathy can be frustrating. It can limit your mobility (making simple things like going for a walk, climbing a flight of stairs, or getting down on the ground to play with the grandkids difficult to impossible).

The problem interferes with getting a good night’s sleep, and taking care of your property, and threatens to take away your independence. People with neuropathy can have problems playing in their garden, exercising, traveling, socializing, or going grocery shopping.

When the neuropathy problems start affecting one’s balance, it can lead to devastating consequences. Imagine trying to carry a basket of laundry (or groceries), upstairs from the basement. You lose your balance and fall down the stairs to the hard, concrete floor. This can cause a brain bleed, a broken hip, or some kind of other trauma. (Falls are the #1 cause of death among seniors).

The New Way of Correction

After a very careful evaluation and examination of Bill’s nervous system, Dr. Smith prescribed a course of care that included both in-office treatments as well as home care therapies. He also provided ongoing consultations.

good night's sleep

The results were beyond anything Bill had ever expected. The numbness, tingling, pain, weakness, and feeling that his feet were too cold went away. And the cherry on top was that Bill was getting his balance back. His mobility improved to the point he could walk, go up and down stairs, get in and out of his car effortlessly, get back to golfing, and get a good night’s sleep. He was a completely different person. His mood improved and relationships with his wife and kids also improved.

He Avoided a Problem

Had he not moved forward with contacting Dr. Smith or getting help, Bill’s outcome would have been very different. He would have still had the symptoms. But they would have gotten worse and his quality of life would have tremendously deteriorated. Eventually, he would have needed special accommodations (like a wheelchair, or a nursing home).

But Bill found the perfect person to help guide him to a life without peripheral neuropathy problems. He could now live out his golden years with full functionality, and enjoy his life. Rather than a wheelchair, he was now sitting in a beach chair, traveling and doing things with his family.

Success Stories

Frequently Asked Questions

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a disease or damage to the peripheral nerves (the nerves that go down your arms, your legs, or wrap around your trunk).

What are the warning signs of peripheral neuropathy?

Symptoms of neuropathy may include numbness, tingling, cramping, weakness, poor balance, feelings of cold or heat in the feet or hands, loss of dexterity in your fingers, restless leg syndrome, and burning pain. You don’t necessarily need to have all of these symptoms. You could only have one, or you can have more than one.

What are the four stages of peripheral neuropathy?

  1. Stage one: You feel intermittent numbness or tingling.
  2. Stage two: the numbness & tingling get more and more frequent and gain in intensity
  3. Stage three: additional symptoms appear (such as burning pain, weakness, cramping, and the feet start feeling cold)
  4. Stage four: this is when the symptoms continue to get more intense and frequent. It interrupts basic functions (like sleeping, walking, or climbing stairs).

What is the best thing to do for peripheral neuropathy?

The best thing is to do something to improve nerve function, control diabetes, stop smoking, and in general get healthier. The worst thing you could do is endlessly procrastinate taking care of a chronic health problem or just mask symptoms with common medications (gabapentin, Neurontin, Lyrica, or Cymbalta). If left uncorrected, it will get worse.

What triggers peripheral neuropathy?

There are over 100 reasons why people suffer from peripheral neuropathy. The most common one is diabetes. 75% of all diabetics have some form of neuropathy. But you don’t necessarily have to be a diabetic to have neuropathy. Some of the other causes are spinal cord problems (like spinal stenosis, a herniated disc, or a bulging disc), trauma, infectious disease, certain medications, exposure to toxins, autoimmune diseases, thyroid problems, and more.

Does peripheral neuropathy go away?

No, peripheral neuropathy does not go away. It gets worse over time.

Can you recover from peripheral neuropathy?

As long as the nerves are still salvageable, recovery is possible. Once the nerves are so badly damaged that nothing can be done, it’s too late.

How do you test for peripheral neuropathy?

We check the function of:

  • Circulation
  • Balance pathways
  • Sensory pathways
  • Motor pathways

If you have peripheral neuropathy, call us to schedule a discovery call.