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6 Common Causes of Peripheral Neuropathy (Gluten Included)

Neuropathy Is Extremely Common

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that leads to multiple symptoms in the arms, legs, hands, and feet. Numbness, tingling, burning, and pain are some of the most common symptomatic manifestations. The condition effects as many as 80 out of every 1,000 people. The condition has a number of different causes. Let’s take a look at 6 ways you can develop peripheral nerve damage:
  1. Diabetes (diabetic neuropathy) – elevations in blood sugar over time lead to accumulated damage to the nerves of the hands and feet. The damage nerves and subsequent reduced blood flow increase the risk for diabetic infections => gangrene => potential loss of the limb to prevent systemic sepsis.
  2. Trauma – physical damage to the nerves exiting the spinal cord can cause neuropathic pain syndromes.
  3. Disc herniation – herniation of an intervertebral disc can put pressure on the nerves exiting the spine. This pressure can disrupt nerve flow leading to pain, numbness and tingling, and in subsequently muscle degeneration.
  4. Toxic Metal Exposure – Excessive or chronic lead and mercury exposure can cause damage to the nerves leading to the symptoms of neuropathy. Both of these heavy metals are known neurotoxins. Common sources of lead exposure typically come from polluted industrial environments, old plumbing (lead was once used to solder pipes together), and old paints. Gasoline used to be leaded but is no longer. Because lead toxicity is accumulative over time, and stores in the tissues, it can sometimes take years to manifest as a problem. Mercury exposure can come from contaminated fish, vaccinations, and from silver amalgams (fillings used in dentistry).
  5. Vitamin Deficiencies – there are several nutrient deficits that can cause neuropathy. The most common include vitamin B-12 and vitamin B-1 deficiency. Vitamin B-12 is a key ingredient that the body uses to produce the coating (myelin sheath) around the nerves. This coating serves to insulate nerves much in the same way that the lining around an electrical wire serves to insulate. Without the myelin sheath, nerve function deteriorates and neuropathy can set in. Vitamin B1 deficiency leads to a disease called Beri Beri. This condition causes neurological damage and manifests as peripheral neuropathy.

Last But Not Least Gluten Sensitivity (#6)-

Unfortunately, most doctors won’t consider gluten induced nerve damage in their initial work up with patients. Over the past many years, gluten has been shown to induce an autoimmune response to nerve tissue. Most recently gluten was implicated as a cause of gluten induced ataxia. Gluten is also known to damage the gut inducing malabsorption of vitamins and minerals (such as vitamins B1 and B12). Gluten has also been shown to contribute to blood brain barrier damage (leaky brain). To top it off, the following list of neurological conditions have all been linked to gluten sensitivity. I have hyperlinked these for you to review more details:

Medical Study Identifies Peripheral Neuropathy Resolves in Many With Gluten Sensitivity

The following is a direct quote from the research:
Gluten sensitivity can engender neurologic dysfunction, one of the two commonest presentations being peripheral neuropathy. Out of a total of 409 patients with different types of peripheral neuropathies, 53 (13%) had clinical and neurophysiologic evidence of sensory ganglionopathy. Out of these 53 patients, 17 (32%) had serologic evidence of gluten sensitivity. The mean age of those with gluten sensitivity was 67 years and the mean age at onset was 58 years. Seven of those with serologic evidence of gluten sensitivity had enteropathy on biopsy. Fifteen patients went on a gluten-free diet, resulting in stabilization of the neuropathy in 11. The remaining 4 had poor adherence to the diet and progressed, as did the 2 patients who did not opt for dietary treatment. Autopsy tissue from 3 patients demonstrated inflammation in the dorsal root ganglia with degeneration of the posterior columns of the spinal cord. Sensory ganglionopathy can be a manifestation of gluten sensitivity and may respond to a strict gluten-free diet.
  1. Peripheral neuropathy. BMJ. 2002 Feb 23;324(7335):466-9.
  2. Neurology. 2010 Sep 14;75(11):1003-8.
Going gluten free will not reverse all cases of neuropathy, but doctors responsible for treating this condition on a regular basis should be brought up to speed on the possibility that gluten can play a major role in the development of the condition. Especially in light of the fact that the current medicinal treatment options have limited success. Help us spread the word and share this article with a neurologist, orthopedic surgeon, family doctor, or chiropractor as these doctors are most commonly helping and managing patients with this condition. Want more proof? Below is a patient I recently treated with this condition. She had full resolution without the need for surgery or medication…   Always looking out for you, Dr. O – The Gluten Free Warrior Leave your comments down below. Share your story, ask your questions, and be a part of our community 🙂

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