My Mother’s Gastric Bypass Surgery is Causing Neuropathy and She’s Unable to Walk
And what are doctors saying they can do about it? Nothing
If you live in the United States you know that the latest “cure” for obesity is Gastric Bypass Surgery. What most Americans don’t know is that researchers are now finding that Gastric Bypass Surgery is causing Neuropathy, otherwise known as nerve damage, in a large number of patients.
What first got me interested in this subject is that my mother in law, Bonnie, was recently hospitalized for severe pain in her hands and feet. This pain had been going on for about 4 months before complications from a spinal tap landed her in the hospital.
Doctors had been unable to determine exactly what was causing the severe pain and numbness in her hands and feet. She doesn’t have diabetes that would cause diabetic neuropathy or any other disease normally associated with neuropathy. Everyone was pretty much at a loss… until a physical therapist handed her the findings of a study done by a doctor at Cornell University.
Direct Link Between Gastric Bypass And Neuropathy
This report titled Neuropathy and the Gastrointestinal System was written by Dr Russel L. Chin, and is dated 12/29/05. It explains the most common reasons for the gastrointestinal system to cause neuropathy. Pretty high up on the list was all of the different weight loss surgery’s being performed today.
Gastric Bypass Surgery, which is what my mother in-law had performed on her in 2004, was pretty high up on the list of things that could cause neuropathy. The report stated that out of 90 patients who had gastric bypass performed, 60 of those patients ended up with some sort of neuropathy…60!
The findings state in some cases the neuropathy is caused by malnutrition resulting from the patient not ensuring that they are eating correctly after the gastric bypass surgery. But in a large number of cases the patient’s stayed on top of their nutrition and made sure that they ate correctly…what is going on in those cases?
It seems that when the Gastric Bypass surgery is performed a portion of the large intestine is removed. Doctors are now wondering if this portion of the large intestine absorbs some sort of trace minerals that they are unaware of and the lack of this mineral is what is causing the neuropathy.
So this must be a potential side effect that they warn you about right? Wrong. My mother in-law has suffered for over four months with this “mystery” neuropathy and no one ever suggested that this could be due to her gastric bypass surgery. Also she was never told prior to having the surgery performed that neuropathy is a risk.
There Is No Cure for Neuropathy
So how do you cure neuropathy? You don’t. You deal with it and hope that it doesn’t get worse. Neuropathy can be very painful and there really aren’t that many drugs out there to treat nerve pain that will let you function normally and not feel messed up all the time.
Cymbalta is an antidepressant that was recently approved by the FDA to treat neuropathy. What patient’s are finding out the hard way with that, is it works for a couple of months and then loses it effectiveness. Once that happens and the patient tries to stop taking it, they are finding that there are severe Cymbalta withdrawal symptoms that you have to deal with. In some cases the patient finds it effective for about 2 months but then has to spend an additional 3 months slowly weening off of it.
It is pretty scary to think that each year about 172,000 patients are having gastric bypass surgery performed and unfortunately they are doing so without all the potential risk information being provided to them. The reason for this isn’t always devious, most times it is lack of knowledge on the part of the surgeon performing the procedure.
Hopefully this will be brought to light in the near future.
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