Some people express some surprise that even nurses have fallen for the doctor’s explanation that they should have a pelvic mesh implant, thinking that nurses would have done more diligent research. Nurses were trained to believe that all of the drugs and all of the devices they used had been carefully studied and approved. (Note: none of it was ever approved, it was “cleared.”) In most cases, only after being injured themselves, do they begin to do the careful research. One such nurse wrote this about peripheral neuropathy:
“I have found that neuropathy is fairly common with mesh patients. Yes, the vagina is considered contaminated, so the surgery is considered ‘clean contaminated’ surgery. The real problem is that these implants should have never been implanted in a contaminated area.
“I kept telling my neurologist that my pelvis and feet and legs are connected. I can go into detail about why my theory we develop neuropathy makes sense to me.
“My theory is that all the nerves in the pelvis—part of the sacral nerves and L4-5 from the sciatic nerve (are involved). Because of severe inflammation, and foreign body response and mesh pulling on the nerves, we develop neuropathy. The gynecologist I am seeing here in Charlotte confirmed what I thought: that the pain we have from the pudendal nerve and the neuropathy in our feet and legs are related.
“The caudal epidurals stopped the pain and tingling, I can have another in August, I still feel some low level tinging and burning, but nothing like it was. The nurses told me they are treating other mesh patients with the same symptoms I have.
Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage to the nerves to your arms, hands, legs and feet—your periphery. The pain can be felt as tingling, burning, or feeling like you are wearing a stocking or glove. Some say ‘pins and needles,” others that their feet are on fire. More than a hundred types of peripheral neuropathy have been identified. Today’s blog is an overview—look for more about this soon from Mesh Troubles. Peripheral neuropathy (PN) after mesh surgery can be related to many causes.
Here are just some things that cause peripheral neuropathy:
• Vitamin deficiencies
• Hormonal deficiencies
• Autoimmune diseases
⁃ Diabetes mellitis
⁃ Rheumatoid arthritis
⁃ Guillain-Barre syndrome
• Compression above area with symptoms
• Exposure to poisons
⁃ Heavy metals
⁃ Viral or bacterial infections
⁃ Lyme Disease
⁃ Hep C
• Inherited disorders
⁃ Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
⁃ Amyloid polyneuropathy
There are three different kinds of nerves that can be affected by PN: sensory nerves that receive sensations such as heat, pain, or touch; motor nerves that control how you muscles move; and autonomic nerves that control functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, digestion and bladder function.
◦ Gradual onset of numbness and tingling in your feet or hands which may move upward into your legs or arms
◦ Burning pain in affect areas
◦ Sharp, jabbing or electric-like pain
◦ Areas sensitive to touch
◦ Lack of coordination
◦ Muscle weakness or paralysis (motor nerves)
◦ Bowel or bladder problems (autonomic nerves)
Peripheral neuralgia may affect one nerve or more, one area or several different areas.
Treatments: First the good news. Correcting the underlying problem may heal PN. “Peripheral nerves have the ability to regenerate axons, as long as the nerve cell itself has not died, which may lead to functional recovery over time. Correcting an underlying condition often can result in the neuropathy resolving on its own as the nerves recover or regenerate.”
Self-care including maintaining optimal weight, exercise to reduce cramps and improve muscle strength and prevent muscle wasting, a healthy diet to correct vitamin deficiencies an minimize or eliminate sugar intake, limiting alcohol and exposure to toxins and medications, treatment of injuries, stopping smoking to improve circulation, meticulous care of your feet including visualizing them frequently can improve your symptoms.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen can help milder cases and narcotic medications may be effective. There are some creams or ointments like Llidocaine or Capsaicin may help.
A “TENS unit” (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) can provide pain relief for some people. The therapy involves attaching electrodes to your skin at the site of your pain or near associated nerves and then administering a gentle electrical current. TENS has been shown in some studies to help diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Sometimes hand or foot braces or orthopedic shoes help reduce pain or prevent injuries. Acupuncture, massage, and herbal medications help as well. Surgically, releasing a nerve can improve compressions injuries when a single nerve is involved.
Your physician may prescribe antidepressants but we recommend caution with those types of medication because one of the most common side-effects of antidepressants is neuropathy. Recently, anti-convulsant medications have been used to control the pain but they are fraught with side-effects that are worse than the initial problems.
The very same process that was used to clear (mind you, they never say “approve”) plastic mesh to be irretrievably placed inside your body, is the one that cleared the drugs to be prescribed for nerve pain. The list of side-effects from these drugs (here is one example) is enough to make you run for the hills, yet they are routinely prescribed for peripheral neuropathy—some of them even cause PN! It makes no sense to me. Does it to you? You are the one who has to live with long-term effects for the rest of your life. Not the doctor you saw for fifteen minutes. What you you think about it? Isn’t your life is too valuable to risk taking a medication, like Paxil, that causes you to have suicidal thoughts in the middle of struggling with the devastating consequences of synthetic surgical mesh?
Peggy Day is working on a book to combine all these stories. This is an excerpt from Pelvis in Flames: Your Pelvic Mesh Owner’s Guide. Your input is welcome to help make Pelvis in Flames the book you need to read.
If you’d like to join an online support group and learn about erosion, partial removals, surgeons, or just find out that you are not alone, join my group, Surgical Mesh or check the list of support groups here.
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