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Natural Awakenings Chicago

Functional Medicine : Assists Healing from Neuropathy

Sep 24, 2017 10:19PM ● By Carrie Jackson

Dr. Kim Martin

Dr. Kim Martin is board certified in integrative medicine with specialties in nutrition, neurology, and functional medicine, and is the head chiropractor at North Shore Health Solutions, in Northbrook. Instead of just treating symptoms, the team there does an in-depth evaluation of how the whole body is working to identify and eliminate health issues permanently.

       They use functional medicine to treat a variety of conditions including thyroid disorders, diabetes, back pain, autoimmune disorders, migraines, digestive issues and insomnia. They’ve found functional medicine to be especially effective in treating peripheral neuropathy and other chronic, autoimmune-resistant conditions.

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is somewhat of an umbrella term for nerve damage that affects the motor and sensory nerves, which connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. The brain detects pain and tells that body part to elicit a symptom. The cause of neuropathy varies, and can include autoimmune disorders, trauma, diabetes, inflammation, vitamins deficiencies, shingles, infections and reactions from medications. There are over 100 different types of recognized peripheral neuropathies, all with different signs and manifestations.

       Symptoms also vary, depending on the health of the patient, but can present as pins and needles, sharp shooting pain, numbness, tingling or a combination. Neuropathy is often present in the hands or feet, but can develop anywhere, even in the gut. It can be dangerous because if the onset is gradual, people may not be aware that they are losing feeling and are at a higher risk for falls and other accidents.

How does functional medicine treat peripheral neuropathy?

Western medicine focuses on the medical model of drugs to treat an illness, but some of them are prescribed off-label (doctors use them for conditions other than their original intended use) and come with their own side effects, including depression, dizziness, weakness and blurred vision. In general, drugs actually make neuropathy worse because they only mask the symptoms while the body continues to destroy its nerves. As a functional medicine doctor, I’ll look at the root cause of a patient’s symptoms and review current exam results, blood work, saliva and stool samples to get a detailed insight into their health.

       We also look at genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors that might be influencing long-term health and chronic disease. At North Shore Health Solutions, we start with a detailed exam to determine how much sensory nerve damage is present and if the patient is a good fit for our clinic. As long as there’s not more than 85 percent damage, we can usually make positive strives to their overall health. Our program is designed to get blood flowing again, restore normal nerve impulses and decrease inflammation. We focus on improving the patient’s quality of life, decreasing pain, improving sleep and balance, and reducing medications. We also want the patient to be part of their own healing process, be compliant and adhere to guidelines. If home treatments are part of their regimen,  they’ll get optimal response by following our recommendations.

Can patients find total relief from peripheral neuropathy?

Nerve healing is very possible following a course of treatment with oxygen, proper blood sugar, specific nutrients and stimulation while removing inflammation. Our clinic is uniquely qualified to address chronic neuropathy issues; people come to us after having doctors tell them their nerve damage is permanent and to just live with it, but we believe healing is possible. In general, it’s advantageous to start treatments as early as possible after symptoms appear, but we encourage our patients to be proactive instead of reactive and have an understanding of their baseline health. An anti-inflammatory diet, regular exercise and proper hydration can all help prevent nerve damage to begin with.

       In combination with other treatments, we use a special, low-level light therapy, which is different than laser therapy, originally developed by NASA to assist in increasing blood flow. Our patients typically have 40 to 75 percent or more long-term relief from pain. They’re able to sleep through the night, feel their feet again, manage their weight and increase their overall quality of life with our programs.

North Shore Health Solutions is a full-service clinic that specializes in alternative therapies, functional medicine and chiropractic care, and is located at 1446 Techny Rd., in Northbrook. Additional therapies include acupuncture, neurofeedback, spinal decompression therapy, class IV laser therapy, intersegmental traction, microcurrent therapy, and diathermy. For more information, call 847-715-9060, email [email protected] or visit

Carrie Jackson is an Evanston-based writer and frequent contributor to Natural Awakenings magazine. Connect at