For many patients who are dealing with neuropathy pain, finding answers may often be hard to come by due to lack of adequate testing. Questions such as “why is my neuropathy worse at night?” can only be answered by understanding how much the autonomic nervous system is damaged. Our nervous system is combined of two parts: the somatic nervous system (SNS) and the Autonomic Nervous system (ANS).
The autonomic nervous system is very important. The ANS supplies smooth muscle and glands, and influences the function of our internal organs. The ANS is a nervous system that acts largely unconsciously and regulates bodily functions, such as the heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate, pupillary response, urination, and sexual arousal. The best way to see this system in action is when you get startled or sense there is danger you will often receive a fight-or-flight response. Think about how your body changes if you become suddenly aware of a threat, that is your ANS at work.
Before treating any form of neuropathy it is wise to perform a comprehensive, autonomic nervous test. This is very useful to determine the cause of the neuropathy and uncover hidden disease.
Testing the autonomic nervous system can identify clinical disorders and uncover major illness and other hidden diseases, such as:
- Sudden Death
- Silent Heart Attack
- Hypertension (high blood pressure
- Cardiac Autonomic Neuropathy (problems with heart rate and rhythm)
- Vascular Abnormalities (problems with blood vessels)
- Orthostatic Hypotension (feeling dizzy or lightheaded when standing suddenly)
- Syncope (passing out)
Why it is important to test your Autonomic Nervous System (ANS):
According to Published Studies:
- Nerve damage to the nerves around the heart occurs in about 17% of patients with type 1 diabetes and about 22% of people with type 2 diabetes.
- Some research has indicated that in patients with ANS dysfunction that has symptoms, 25% to 50% die within 1 to 5 years of diagnosis. It is very important to determine how far the neuropathy has gone and if it has affected the heart and blood vessels.
- A patient’s history and physical examination often don’t show problems with the autonomic nervous system (ANS).
It is recommended that all patients with Diabetes receive screening. The specific recommendations are that screening for problems with the Autonomic nervous system should be performed at the diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes and after the diagnosis of type 1 Diabetes according to the 2005 ADA Standard of Diabetes Care
People with diabetes may have problems with the nerves around their heart and this can cause severe heart problems and sudden death, surveys show that only 2% of people with diabetes are tested for ANS neuropathy
If you have neuropathy and have not been tested please reach out to our office we would be happy to help you on your road to recovery and defeating neuropathy.