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Sunday, May 19, 2013

Neuropathy: What to Do?

Dear dr. Blake

my friend  saw you a few years ago with a broken ankle, recommended I write to you about what happened to me recently that resulted in neuropathy in the soles of my feet and toes.  She says you are wonderful.

Well, cheap footwear from a drugstore apparently had some toxic substance in or on the shoes.  These were a pair of flipflops, boy's size 4/5, with fabric covering the foot-bed.  Being chemically sensitive, I chose this model over all the plain plastic ones (which often reek of plastic fumes), thinking fabric would make them safer -- plus the fact that none of the other models they had available fit me anyway.

 I wore the shoes for about one hour total, and about 2-3 hours later began to notice the sensation of numbness in my feet.  This happened on Sunday April 21st, and there has been zero improvement.

That evening (soon after I noticed the problem) I soaked my feet in epsom salts dissolved in warm water, for about an hour.  Still had the problem, so next two nights I packed clay on my soles and toes (a friend suggested this detox method, and I was glad I had some clay ready to use).  I felt after these two nights that the toxins had been removed but that I was left with lasting nerve damage.  My right foot is worse, the first 4 toes and the sole of ball of my foot feel numb, sometimes there is a burning feeling, and if I stub a toe just a little there can be a sharp pain.  There is nothing visibly wrong, but the sensation I have when walking around is as if I am walking on wadded up kleenex.  I also noticed the skin of my toes felt clingy, as if the toes were sticking together, and my feet seemed to cling to my old plastic flipflops with a very unpleasant sensation.  I have found some relief from this by  putting cornstarch between my toes and wearing loose socks (no flipflops of course). Fortunately I have a pair of Aerosoles w cushiony insoles, which I discovered make it possible for me to go for walks -- and get some exercise.

But now I am scared to buy shoes of any kind.  I wonder if you can recommend some footwear known to be safe (even for the especially chemically sensitive).  I feel kind of ridiculous even asking such a question, but there it is.   Actually I think those shoes from the drugstore would be toxic to anybody but maybe the non-sensitive might not have an acute reaction.  The fact that these were a child's size gives me real concern for the intended wearers.
Dr Blake's comment: Here is a blog posting on this topic.

And if you have further suggestions what to do for neuropathy beyond:  I see that you recommend a lot of vitamin D, which I already have been taking for a long time now, so that should be covered.  I started taking B12 and other Bs, plus lecithin and various herbs that I saw recommended online.  I have the impression that massage is NOT a good idea.  Deep probing of the affected areas seems to hurt and not be helpful.

Any ideas appreciated.  Thank you.

Dr Blake's comment: 

     Thank you for the email, and I am sorry for your suffering. One of my medical assistants getting allergic reactions to the dyes in leather shoes and now uses only vegetable based shoes. She went to an allergist who tested everything, and it really helped her begin to control her symptoms and live more normal. Below is my nerve pain outline and so much can be used in your situation. I have highlighted in red the most common things you can do. Also see the video emphasizing exercise, healthy diet, sugar restricted diets, and no smoking or alcohol. 


3.      Topical Medications/Applications (should be gels for ease of application)
§         Warm Compresses
§         Non Painful Massage
§         Parafin Wax
§         Chinese Herbs
§         Lidoderm Patches
§         Neuro-Eze
§         Multiple Compounding Medications which include (usually not all of these):
ü      Ketamine 10%
ü      Clonidine 0.2%
ü      Gabapentin 6%
ü      Baclofen 2%
ü      Nifedipine 2%
ü      Lidocaine 2%
4.     Alternative
§         Biofeedback (Thermal to increase circulation)
§         Hypnosis
§         Meditation
§         Accupuncture (can be to opposite limb or ear)

·       Nutritional (next 3-12 months)
1.      Lipoic Acid 300mg 2x/day
2.      Acety-L-Carnitine 2000 mg/day
3.      Inositol 500-1000mg/day
4.      Vit B6 50mg/day
5.      Vit B12 1000mg/day
6.      Vit E (up to 1,600units/day)
7.      Thyroid Natural Supplements


This Mayo Clinic article gives a good overview. I hope this points you in the right direction. 

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Thank you very much for leaving a comment. Due to my time restraints, some comments may not be answered.I will answer questions that I feel will help the community as a whole.. I can only answer medical questions in a general form. No specific answers can be given. Please consult a podiatrist, therapist, orthopedist, or sports medicine physician in your area for specific questions.