Living With Small Fiber Neuropathy
Millions of Americans suffer from a bizarre complex of symptoms involving widespread chronic pain, tingling and numbness, issues in their G.I. track (such as constipation), dry eyes, or bladder problems. Often, they are diagnosed with fibromyalgia or peripheral neuropathy without being informed as to the causes of these health issues. Commonly prescribed drugs given for treatment include ones like Cymbalta, Lyrica, or Gabapentin. However, the underlying cause of your disorders are not corrected with these drugs. Plus, there is the very real risk of severe side effects. However, new research has uncovered the one cause of these various disorders, and it is actually small fiber sensory neuropathy (SFSN).
The Symptoms of Small Fiber Neuropathy
The first signs of small fiber sensory neuropathy disorder begin with tingling and numbness, which, over time can escalate to more widespread pain, such as burning, itching, stinging, aching, or a jolting shock-like feeling. Normal stimulating sensations can also cause a flare of these symptoms; for example, a woven shirt could cause an area on your chest to feel as if it were being poked with needles. These symptoms can occur at any location of the body, including your face or mouth.
In addition to these uncomfortable sensations, SFSN can affect your autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is responsible for regulating your blood pressure, heart rate, sexual function, and mucous membranes. Small fiber neuropathy of the autonomic nervous system can also cause additional symptoms, such as dizziness, dry mouth and eyes, G.I. tract complications, and even skin discoloration. Since the symptoms are so broad, they are often dismissed by doctors. This might lead you to believe that it is all just in your head. However, it is not--the symptoms are genuine. It’s all caused by your small fiber sensory nerves. It just needs to be adequately diagnosed and treated.
The Diagnosis of Small Fiber Neuropathy
Many people experiencing SFSN have under gone multiple tests only to have their results come back as inconclusive. This can be very aggravating because their symptoms continue to go untreated. Often, neurologists have "ruled out” peripheral neuropathy as the culprit behind the symptoms. But, the tests they perform are only for large fiber neuropathy, which completely misses any small fiber sensory neuropathy. Usually the test for small fiber sensory neuropathy is a painless minute skin-punch test that is evaluated by the lab for disruption to the small nerves.
What Are the Causes of Small Fiber Sensory Neuropathy, and How Is It Treated?
The most common cause of SFSN is high blood glucose spiking after a meal. This happens with insulin resistance and pre-diabetes, well before diabetes is diagnosed. It is possible that when tested your fasting blood glucose is found to be normal. But research illustrates that individuals afflicted by SFSN will tend to have normal fasting blood levels but show a dramatic spike in insulin and blood glucose levels after eating a meal.
If this post-meal glucose spiking persists over time, the small fiber peripheral nerves can start to be damaged. Conducting a glucose and insulin tolerance test can help determine if these spikes are occurring. Also, a hemoglobin-1C serum test is a method to detect the occurrence of glucose spikes over time.
The next most common cause is a nutrient deficiency, specifically vitamins B6, B12, D3, and folate. Most doctors will test for suspected deficiency with a serum B12. However, this is not enough. You need more accurate testing and treatment. For example, for a B12 deficiency, a better lab test would be serum homocysteine and methylmalonic acid levels. Testing for other additional deficiencies and using targeted natural remedies is vital.
The third most common cause is due to autoimmune disorders that are attacking the peripheral nerves. There are many cases where this cause is overlooked due to a lack of proper screening. If this is the situation, then you need to visit a doctor who specializes in treating autoimmune diseases with a more natural approach. It is important to treat the underlying causes of autoimmune activation, such as a "leaky gut".
It is possible for small fiber sensory neuropathy to be reversed, as long as the underlying cause is discovered by a doctor who specializes in treating such condition. The treatment to reverse involves a comprehensive holistic approach.
There is much more information regarding SFSN and how to treat it, all of which can be discussed in a free consultation at my clinic or one of my FREE workshops—see the events link on the website – painandbrainhealingcenter.com. Learn how you can get your life back. Many others have done it and so can you! You have nothing to lose but the pain!
About Dr. Greg Fors
Dr. Fors is a 1982 graduate of Northwestern College of Chiropractic, a Board-certified Neurologist (IBCN); nationally certified in acupuncture and certified in Applied Herbal Sciences (NWHSU). He is a recognized expert in the field of chronic pain and brain health lecturing internationally to doctors on a variety of subjects including small fiber neuropathy, chronic pain disorders, autism, ADHD, depression, and neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's. His clinical experience includes many years of teaching and successfully treating a wide variety of complaints by utilizing alternative therapies.
I have recently been diagnosed with neuropathy. One neurologist prescribed gabapentin, but the next neurologist took me off that and suggested a Lidocaine gel. Either seems to make a difference, I am also taking B1 and B12, since they were both low. Would be interested in talking to you to see if there’s more I can do.