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10 Little Known Ways to Relieve Nerve Pain (Without Prescriptions)

nerve pain in the footOne of the most common questions we hear from people dealing with nerve pain is whether or not there are any effective non-prescription approaches to treating the symptoms of neuropathy. Some are looking for a natural approach because of negative experiences or adverse side effects from their prescription medications. Others are looking for a more lasting approach that helps address the underlying causes of their pain rather than merely provide temporary relief.

Of course, there are a number of non-prescription approaches to managing neuropathic pain. As with any form of treatment, each person will respond differently to different kinds of treatment. The important thing is to pay attention to how your body responds and remain persistent until you find the approach that works best for you.

We’ve researched some of the most commonly used non-prescription approaches to managing nerve pain. If you’re looking for new options to help you manage the symptoms of your neuropathy, try starting with one of these popular and effective approaches:

 

Topical Creams

woman putting topical cream on handTopical pain relieving creams are a popular approach to managing pain, tingling or burning from nerve damage. Most neuropathy creams contain the ingredient capsaicin, which is harvested from hot peppers and can effectively numb neuropathy pain. One of the greatest benefits of topical creams for nerve pain is that you can apply it directly to the trouble spots – bringing targeted relief to the areas afflicted with pain.
 
 

Vitamin & Herbal Supplements

Vitamin and herbal supplements can be powerful allies in the fight against neuropathy. Vitamins like B12 are essential for nerve health and not getting enough of it could lead to neuropathy. Other effective vitamins and supplements for treating the symptoms of neuropathy include alpha lipoic acid, magnesium, CoQ10, acetyl-l-carnitine, passionflower and more. These supplements help both relieve the pain as well as correct underlying problems that could be contributing to nerve pain.

 

MORE: Top 10 Herbs & Supplements for Nerve Pain

 

Over the Counter Painkillers

While not as powerful as prescription medications, over the counter medicines can help some sufferers take the edge off the pain without exposing them to some of the adverse side effects of prescription painkillers. This approach is more effective for those experiencing only mild pain or discomfort from their neuropathy. The most common over the counter pain relievers for mild nerve pain include aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
 

Biofeedback

According to WebMD, biofeedback can be an effective form of alternative therapy for individuals with chronic pain – including neuropathy – and migraines. During a biofeedback therapy session, electrodes are attached to the body to track various involuntary functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, muscle movement and more. These functions are then displayed on a monitor for you to see. The biofeedback therapist will then guide you through various relaxation techniques to help you gain control over some of these involuntary functions. The monitor displays any changes in activity, helping you to see how the techniques can help you control these functions.

The various relaxation techniques associated with biofeedback have helped many to train their bodies to more effectively cope with stress and pain.
 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture has been shown to reduce the symptoms in patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy. Acupuncture is an alternative option for treating certain ailments and condition by way of needle. Needles are strategically inserted into the body and then manipulated in order to help with the lack of blood flow to damaged areas. Like most treatments, it may take multiple sessions before patients begin to feel a difference.
 

Massage

Regular massages can provide much needed relief from nerve pain. Massages help in a couple of ways. First, they improve blood flow. Poor circulation can hurt the nerves by depriving them of the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy. Poor circulation can also intensify the symptoms of nerve pain. Second, massage helps by promoting the release of pain-blocking endorphins in the body. This can provide temporary relief from excruciating nerve pain.
 

TENS Therapy (Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation)

TENS is a drug free alternative to relieving pain associated with neuropathy. You connect a few electrodes to the skin. The electrodes are then connected to a small battery pack, which sends electrical impulses through electrodes. These impulses travel along the nerve fibers to inhibit pain signals from arriving at the brain. Additionally, the electrical impulses may also release natural endorphins and that can help naturally suppress the pain. The procedure is non-invasive and pain free in nature. The TENS therapy does not provide relief for all patients or all pain types; however it may very well provide ease from acute forms of nerve pain.
 

Gentle Exercise

For many suffering from neuropathy (or any other form of chronic pain), the pain causes them to limit physical activity. While it is important to know your limits, a lack of exercise can have a negative effect on your health. Muscle weakness and muscle atrophy – when the muscles waste away – can become a very real risk for those with neuropathy.

While the pain may make most exercise difficult (if not impossible), even doing small, gentle exercises can help prevent muscle weakness and muscle loss. Some of the most effective forms of gentle exercise for neuropathy include yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, stationary bike and walking. Many patients report a decrease in both frequency and severity of nerve pain when exercise becomes part of their daily routine. As always, consult your doctor or physical therapist about what exercises are best for you.
 

MORE: 5 Low Impact Exercises for People with Nerve Pain

 

Diet

What you eat can have a significant effect on your nerves. For many Americans, poor dietary choices lead to a lack of important vitamins and nutrients that promote healthy nerves. This includes a lack of vitamin B12, which can cause neuropathy. Eating a diet rich in vitamins B12, D, magnesium, iron, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids can help your body as it fights pain and irritation from nerve damage.

For those suffering from diabetic neuropathy, diet is the most important aspect of their battle with nerve pain. Managing blood sugar is the single most effective tool in stopping and even reversing the effects of diabetic neuropathy. Approximately 70% of diabetes patients will develop neuropathy, so maintaining a proper diet and managing blood sugar is important for anyone with diabetes.
 

MORE: 6 Effective Diet Changes for Easing Nerve Pain

 

Lifestyle Changes

There may be habits or lifestyle factors that are contributing to your nerve pain. Some of the most common lifestyle changes we recommend for anyone suffering from neuropathy are to limit alcohol consumption (which can block the body’s absorption of nerve boosting nutrients), quit smoking, limit sugar consumption, avoid high salt foods and eat a well-balanced diet.
 

MORE: 4 Habits You Need to Stop Now if You Have Nerve Pain

10 Things You Need to Know About Peripheral Neuropathy

Man with peripheral neuropathy pain in foot.

Life with peripheral neuropathy can be filled with unknowns – especially for those of us whose symptoms or diagnoses are relatively new. Navigating this new life with a painful condition can be (and most often is) overwhelming and frustrating. From bothersome symptoms like lack of muscle control to debilitating ones such as sharp, stabbing pains in the hands or feet, peripheral neuropathy can wreak havoc on your quality of life. Finding out as much information as possible about the condition, its causes and its treatments can go a long way in getting you onto the path to a better – and more pain free – life.

Despite affecting nearly 20 million people in the United States, there is still a lot of information that is widely unknown among those suffering from peripheral neuropathy. At its most basic level, peripheral neuropathy is damage to the nerves in the peripheral nervous system – the system that connects your central nervous system to your organs and limbs. Peripheral nerves are the longest nerves in the body, extending all the way to the hands and feet. When damaged, the most common symptoms are pain, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet. As we’ll see, however, these aren’t the only symptoms. Lets take a look at 10 things you need to know about neuropathy:

 

Complications from diabetes can lead to neuropathy

 
Diabetes is the number one cause of neuropathy worldwide. In fact, an estimated 70% of diabetes patients develop the symptoms of neuropathy. If you suffer from diabetes induced neuropathy – or suffer from diabetes but haven’t yet developed neuropathy – managing your blood sugar levels is the most effective form of treatment for preventing, stopping and even reversing the effects of diabetic neuropathy.
 

Other Potential Causes of Neuropathy

 
While diabetes is the leading cause of neuropathy, it isn’t the only one. Other potential causes may include medications, chemotherapy, surgery, traumatic injury, repeated pressure on the nerves, tumors, alcoholism, vitamin B12 deficiency, exposure to toxins, infections and more. In some cases, doctors may not be able to determine a cause. When the cause is unknown, it is called idiopathic neuropathy.
 

MORE: 7 Potential Causes of Your Neuropathy

 

Certain Medications May Damage Your Nerves

 
As mentioned above, certain medications can cause neuropathy. For those suffering from diabetes, the drug metformin can be detrimental to your nerves. It has been linked to an increased risk in vitamin B12 deficiency, which can result in neuropathy.[1] Here are some other common medications that may damage your nerves:

Medications than can cause Neuropathy

If you notice any of the symptoms of neuropathy while taking any of the medications of above – notify your doctor immediately. Catching it early may help prevent permanent damage.
 

MORE: 10 Biggest Threats to Your Nerves

 

Pain, Tingling & Numbness Aren’t the Only Symptoms

 
When the peripheral nerves are damaged – the most common symptoms include pain, tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. While these are perhaps the most recognizable symptoms associated with neuropathy – they are far from the only symptoms. Other symptoms will vary – depending upon the type of nerve or nerves that have been damaged.

There are three types of peripheral nerves – sensory, motor and autonomic. Each type has a different function – and damage to each type will result in different symptoms.

Sensory Nerves: Damage to the sensory nerves often results in the pain, tingling or numbness most often associated with neuropathy.

Motor Nerves: Damage to the motor nerves will affect muscle function and control – potentially resulting in difficulty walking, picking things up or moving the arms.

Autonomic Nerves: Damage to the autonomic nerves may affect more of your involuntary functions such as heart rate, breathing, sweating, blood pressure and more.

 

MORE: Heartburn, Indigestion and 25 Other Symptoms You Didn’t Know Were Caused by Neuropathy

 

This graph shows some of the symptoms often linked to damage to the autonomic nerves:

symptoms of autonomic neuropathy
 

Numbness can lead to more serious problems

 
If numbness is one of the symptoms you’ve experienced as a result of your neuropathy – you’ll want to take extra caution to prevent more serious damage. When neuropathy leaves feet feeling numb, it can be particularly dangerous as problems with a foot may go unnoticed. For example, a small pebble stuck in a shoe for a few hours could cause serious damage to the skin and foot. If the damage goes unnoticed for a prolonged period of time – there is also an increased risk of infection.

If neuropathy has left your foot (or feet) numb – inspect your feet daily for sores, blisters or cuts that could lead to infection. Also be sure to wear comfortable socks and loose-fitting (but not too loose) shoes to help prevent damage.
 

Prevention is key

 
While in some cases the cause of your neuropathy may have been something out of your control (i.e. nerve damage from a traumatic injury or surgery) – in other cases the nerve damage can be prevented. Or, if you already have neuropathy, you may be able to prevent the damage from spreading.

The most common cause of neuropathy – diabetes – is also one of the most preventable. Managing your blood sugar levels can help prevent, stop and even reverse diabetic neuropathy. In addition to diabetes, there are other potential causes that are preventable. These include vitamin B12 deficiency, alcoholism and repeated pressure on the nerves (i.e. from sitting, using crutches, etc). Eating healthy, exercising and taking the right nutritional supplements can help boost the health of your nerves and prevent further damage.
 

Prescription Medications Can Help Ease Pain – But They Aren’t a Cure

 
Prescription medications can be beneficial in helping to take the edge off of the pain of peripheral neuropathy – but the relief is only temporary. Rather than address the underlying cause(s) of your neuropathy – prescription medications typically just mask the pain for a short amount of time. Once the medication wears off, more is needed to continue being effective. Be aware of the risks associated with taking certain medications and consult your doctor about the best options for your situation.
 

MORE: Beyond the Prescription: Strategies for Fighting Neuropathy Without Prescriptions

 

Supplements Can Benefit Neuropathy Patients

 
Many individuals suffering from nerve pain have turned to vitamin or nutritional supplements to help boost nerve health and ease nerve related pain, numbness or tingling. Supplements are generally a safer alternative to prescription medications and rather than mask the symptoms – they help fix some of the underlying problems that cause nerve pain, providing more long-term relief.

The most popular and effective supplements for neuropathy include vitamin B12, alpha lipoic acid, magnesium, acetyl-l-carnitine and more.
 

MORE: 10 Herbs & Supplements for Nerve Pain

 

Alternative Approaches Can Help You Manage Pain

 
Sometimes the words “alternative medicine” can invoke strange images in our minds and scare us away. However, alternative approaches to managing nerve pain have proven effective for many patients. These approaches can help sufferers learn to more effectively manage their pain and also provide lasting relief from their symptoms. Popular alternative approaches for neuropathy include acupuncture, massage, yoga, tai chi, low-impact exercise, biofeedback, TENs therapy and more.
 

MORE: 5 Low Impact Exercises for Neuropathy

 

Your Diet Can Either Help or Hurt Your Symptoms

 
The food you eat has the potential to either help or hurt your nerves – so knowing what to avoid and what to eat more of is very important. Among the types of foods you should avoid are those containing artificial sweeteners, processed sugars, gluten, casein (a protein commonly found in dairy) and refined grains. Each of these poses various threats to the health of your nerves and can exacerbate your nerve pain.
 

MORE: 6 Most Important Diet Changes for Easing Nerve Pain

 
When it comes to foods that can help with neuropathy – plant-based diets have been shown to be highly effective in stopping and evening reversing diabetic neuropathy. A recent study found that “a low-fat, whole-food vegan diet, coupled with daily walking exercise, leads to rapid remission of neuropathic pain in the majority of type 2 diabetics expressing this complication.”[2]

Additionally, you should make sure your diet is rich in the following nerve-boosting vitamins and nutrients: vitamin B12, B6 (in limited amounts), B2, B1, D, magnesium and zinc.
 

MORE: 5 Vitamins & Nutrients for Easing Nerve Pain

 
Whether you’re newly diagnosed or you’ve suffered from neuropathy for years – knowing as much as possible about the condition can help you make informed decisions about the best treatment options for you. Knowing what foods to eat and what to avoid – as well as what alternative approaches to use as complimentary treatments to the more traditional treatments – can help you reduce the pain and other symptoms.

What were some of your most pressing questions about neuropathy when you were first diagnosed? How did you find the answers? Share your experiences with us on our Facebook Page!

Sources:

[1] http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20090608/metformin-linked-to-b12-deficiency

[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12323113

 

Top 10 Herbs & Supplements for Nerve Pain

herbs for nerve pain

The fight against nerve pain caused by peripheral neuropathy can take many forms. For many, prescription medications are one way to reduce the pain. While prescription medications do provide much needed relief from nerve pain, their effectiveness is only temporary. Rather than seek to remedy the underlying cause of the pain, they merely mask the pain and other symptoms.

Another approach that has been used by millions of nerve pain sufferers is natural herbs and supplements that can help ease pain and address underlying problems that may be contributing to their neuropathy. For many neuropathy sufferers, this approach has a broad appeal as it can provide effective relief without many of the adverse side effects of prescription medications and painkillers. It also provides more lasting relief for many.

With that in mind, we scoured through hundreds of herbs and supplements that claim to be effective for the treatment of neuropathy. We’ve narrowed the list down to the top 10 herbs and supplements for effectively treating neuropathy pain and other symptoms related to nerve damage.
 

#1 – Vitamin B12

Hand holds a box of vitamin B12

According to the Journal of Neurological Science, vitamin B12 may increase protein synthesis and help in the regeneration of nerves. In ultra-high doses, it is shown to produce nerve regeneration. In addition to helping in the regeneration of damaged nerves, vitamin B12 is essential for maintaining healthy nerves and protecting them from damage. B12 helps build and support the myelin sheath, a layer of protective tissue around the nerves. This protective coating helps protect sensitive nerve tissue from foreign threats. If the myelin sheath is damaged or weakened, you may begin to experience neuropathic pain as the nerves have difficulty properly sending and receiving electric signals.

Benefits:

  • Promotes nerve health
  • Helps repair, rebuild and maintain the myelin sheath – a protective coating around the nerves
  • Promotes regeneration of damaged nerves (when taken in high doses)

 

#2 – Feverfew Extract 

Feverfew has made a name for itself as a natural treatment for migraines – but its healing powers extend into the realm of nerve pain as well. Feverfew contains a compound known as parthenolide, which is the secret to the herb’s pain relieving properties. For many suffering from nerve pain, chronic inflammation is common. The parthenolide in feverfew helps reduce inflammation by blocking the release of inflammatory substances in the body.

Benefits:

  • Prevent or reduce migraines
  • Relieve nerve pain
  • Reduce inflammation

 

#3 – Passionflower

passionflowerMany with neuropathy experience an overactive nervous system. The nerves transmit electrical signals at the slightest movement or touch, triggering intense pain in the hands or feet. An overactive nervous system and the pain associated with it can often lead to feelings of anxiety. Passionflower helps to relieve this anxiety and calm your overactive nerves.

Passionflower achieves its calming effect on the nerves is by increasing the levels of GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) in the brain. GABA can help slow activity levels of brain cells, resulting in a calming effect on the body and mind.

Benefits:

  • Calms overactive nervous system
  • Relieves pain from over stimulated nerves
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Promotes sleep

 

#4 – Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant with the ability to regenerate itself. It can also regenerate other antioxidants and even B vitamins – which are essential for nerve health. As an antioxidant, alpha lipoic acid neutralizes the threat of free radicals in the body. These harmful substances damage and destroy cells in the body – which can eventually lead to chronic illnesses.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Several studies suggest alpha-lipoic acid helps lower blood sugar levels. Its ability to kill free radicals may help people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, who have pain, burning, itching, tingling, and numbness in arms and legs from nerve damage. Researchers believe Alpha-lipoic acid helps improve insulin sensitivity.”

Alpha lipoic acid may also help those suffering from autonomic neuropathy, a form of neuropathy that affects internal organs such as the bladder, heart, digestive system and more.

Benefits:

  • Helps ease nerve-related pain, burning, itching, tingling and numbness
  • Kills free radicals
  • Lowers blood sugar levels

 

MORE: Learn more about the symptoms of Autonomic Neuropathy

 

#5 – Magnesium

Magnesium is an important mineral for nerve health. For starters, it is involved in over 300 chemical reactions in the body and helps maintain normal nerve and muscle function – among other things. Research suggests that the majority of Americans aren’t getting enough magnesium through their diet. This lack of magnesium can lead to increased levels of inflammation, which can in turn lead to other health problems like diabetes.

For those suffering from nerve pain, magnesium helps calm both the nervous system and your muscles – helping to ease nerve related pain. It can also ease anxiety and promote better sleep – which can be hugely beneficial to those whose nerve pain makes sleep difficult.

Benefits:

  • Helps regulate and reduce inflammation
  • Calms overactive nervous system
  • Calms muscles
  • Eases nerve pain
  • Promotes better sleep

 

#6 – CoQ10 (CoEnzyme Q10)

Your body produces the antioxidant Coenzyme Q10 naturally – though production levels decline with age. CoQ10 is important for nerve health because it helps address mitochondrial dysfunction, a condition that hurts the nerves and can lead to nerve damage and nerve pain. Like alpha lipoic acid, this antioxidant helps neutralize the threat of harmful free radicals in the body. It also plays an important role in helping the body convert food into energy to help fuel the body.

Benefits:

  • Corrects mitochondrial dysfunction (which can cause nerve pain)
  • Kills free radicals
  • Boosts energy

 

MORE: 3 Best Antioxidants for Easing Nerve Pain

 

#7 – Skullcap Extract

Anyone suffering from nerve pain knows first hand the stress and anxiety it can cause. When the nervous system becomes overactive and the nerves become overly sensitive to touch, it can leave you feeling on edge. By increasing blood flow to the brain, skullcap helps ease anxiety and calms an overactive nervous system. It also reduces pain associated with inflammation, which is a common problem associated with nerve damage.

Benefits:

  • Reduces anxiety
  • Calms nervous system
  • Reduces pain associated with inflammation

 

MORE: Learn more about how skullcap calms the nerves and reduces pain

 

#8 – Oat Straw Extract

Oat straw extract – which comes from green oats – has been used for centuries as an herbal treatment for improving the health of the mind and overall well-being of individuals. As it relates to neuropathy, it has a lot to offer. For those suffering from irritated skin as a result of nerve damage, oat straw extract can help relieve itchy or irritated skin. For those dealing with inflammation and swelling, it helps reduce inflammatory markers and relieve pain associated with inflammation. Finally, it helps calm the nervous system and ease anxiety.

Benefits:

  • Relieves itchy or irritated skin
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Calms nervous system and reduces anxiety

 

MORE: Four Ways to Relieve Neuropathy with Oat Straw

 

#9 – Acetyl-l-carnitine

Acetyl-l-carnitine is an amino acid whose primary function is to assist the body in producing energy. It also shows promise in helping to reduce the symptoms of neuropathy. According to the Washington University Pain Center, “L-acetylcarnitine is a promising compound for the treatment of painful neuropathies for its dual mechanisms, which include a significant analgesic effect after chronic administration and the ability to promote peripheral nerve regeneration and to improve vibration perception.”

Benefits:

  • Treats painful neuropathy
  • Promotes regeneration of peripheral nerves
  • Boosts energy

 

MORE: 5 Natural Treatments for Neuropathy

 

#10 – Inositol

Inositol is a carbohydrate found in foods like fruit, beans, grains and nuts – but can also be produced in a laboratory. According to WebMD, inositol helps balance chemicals in the body and is likely effective for treating diabetic nerve pain (among other things).

Benefits:

  • Helps ease diabetic nerve pain

 

Whether you’ve suffered for years or your diagnosis is new – herbs and supplements may provide much needed relief for your symptoms without many of the adverse side effects of prescription medications. They can also help address underlying causes of your nerve pain – providing more long-term reprieve from the painful symptoms of neuropathy. What herbs or supplements have been most effective for you in your battle with nerve pain? Share your success stories on our Facebook Page!

Heartburn, Indigestion and 25 Other Symptoms You Didn’t Know Were Caused By Neuropathy

Man suffering from heartburn

The mercury is rising and temperatures are hot across large swaths of the United States. In fact, the months of July and August are typically the two hottest months of the year. This rise in temperature can remind many with neuropathy of one of the lesser known, but bothersome nonetheless, symptoms – that being problems related to sweating. For some, this may mean an inability to sweat while for others it may mean excessive sweating.

Problems with perspiration are just one of many symptoms caused when neuropathy affects the autonomic nerves. The autonomic nervous system is actually a part of the larger peripheral nervous system. Its primary purpose is to control the functions of internal organs such as the heart, stomach, liver, adrenal gland and more. When neuropathy affects the autonomic nerves, it disrupts their ability to properly transmit and process signals between the brain and the various organs they influence.

This disruption in the sending and processing of signals to and from the brain can cause an array of health issues and be made manifest in various uncomfortable symptoms. Unlike the more easily recognizable symptoms of neuropathy – such as pain, numbness and tingling – the symptoms associated with damage to the autonomic nerves aren’t always readily recognizable as having been caused by nerve damage. In fact, many sufferers are surprised to learn that these symptoms may be caused by their neuropathy.

Damage to the autonomic nerves tends to affect six different organs or systems within the body, namely the bladder, digestive system, sex organs, heart (and blood vessels), eyes and sweat glands. Lets take a look at some of the most common symptoms associated with autonomic nerve damage:

symptoms of autonomic neuropathy

 

Bladder & Urinary Tract:

If the autonomic nerves are damaged, you may experience problems with bladder control and urinary infections. If any of the statements below ring true for you, it’s possible your neuropathy has affected your autonomic nervous system.

Signs that neuropathy is affecting my bladder & urinary tract:

I have a loss of bladder control – including urinary leakage, urinating too often or not enough, or feeling the need to urinate but being unable to.

I am unable to completely empty my bladder (urinary retention)

I have frequent urinary tract infections

 

Digestive System:

Autonomic nerves have an influence on many of the organs that make up the digestive system, including the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and liver. For that reason, damage to these nerves can wreak havoc on your digestive system. From heartburn to diarrhea – and everything in between – the symptoms of autonomic nerve damage as they relate to the digestive system can be quite bothersome. Do any of the statements below describe you?
Signs that neuropathy is affecting my digestive system:

I have frequent indigestion or heartburn

I often feel nauseous or vomit undigested food

I experience frequent diarrhea

I have constipation

I feel bloated

I have no appetite

I feel full after eating small amounts of food

 

Sex Organs:

While it can be a bit of taboo subject to talk about – sexual health can also be negatively impacted by nerve damage. Below are a few of the ways neuropathy can affect the sex organs in both men and women.

Signs that neuropathy is affecting my sexual health:

I experience erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation (for men)

I have difficulty achieving orgasm during sex (women)

I have vaginal dryness (women)

 

Heart & Blood Vessels:

The heart and blood vessels can be especially vulnerable to the effects of damage on the autonomic nerves. The symptoms can range from minor (such as feeling dizzy) to serious (heart attack). Recognizing the symptoms early on and addressing them with your doctor are two important steps to helping limit the threat.

Signs that neuropathy is affecting my heart or blood vessels:

I often feel dizzy or faint when standing

I have fainting spells

I find it abnormally difficult to breath (especially after exercise)

I have abnormal blood pressure

My heart rate is high, even when resting

I’ve suffered a heart attack without any warning signs

 

Eyes:

Neuropathy can even affect the eyes. Specifically, it can affect the ability of your pupils to quickly adjust when going from dark to light. Here are a few scenarios that those whose eyes have been affected by neuropathy may be familiar with.
 
Signs that neuropathy is affecting my eyes:

My eyes have a hard time adjusting from dark to light

It is difficult for me to drive at night

 

Sweat Glands:

And we’re back where we started! For some, damage to the autonomic nerves affects their sweat glands. They may sweat excessively – or not sweat at all. This bothersome symptom can affect their body’s ability to regulate its temperature – especially if they are unable to sweat. Being cognizant of this – especially during the hot summer months or when doing physical activities – is important, as you will want to take the appropriate steps to prevent yourself from overheating.
 
Signs that neuropathy is affecting my sweat glands:

I rarely sweat, even if I’m exercising or I’m hot

I sweat excessively for no reason

The skin on my feet is dry

 

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above – the most important first step is talking to your doctor about it. Your doctor can ask the necessary questions and run the appropriate tests to help determine the cause and recommend a treatment approach.

If neuropathy is the cause, treating the underlying nerve damage is critical to lessening the severity of symptoms. Neuropathy treatments may include medications, supplements, blood sugar management, diet and more. For more on treating nerve damage, read our blog post 7 Common Treatments for Nerve Pain. Your doctor can also recommend other options and medications to help bring temporary relief to your specific symptoms.

Besides the pain, numbness or tingling – what have been your most troublesome Neuropathy symptoms? Share your experiences with us on the Neuropathy Treatment Group Facebook Page!

4 Habits You Need To Stop Now If You Have Nerve Pain

Neuropathic foot pain neuropathy.

According to the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, around 20 million people in the United States suffer from some form of peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral Neuropathy consists of damage to nerves in the peripheral nervous system – resulting in pain, numbness, tingling or burning in the affected area (most commonly the hands or feet). Diabetes is the leading cause of neuropathy – though it isn’t the only cause. Other common causes include chemotherapy, medications, toxins, heavy alcohol consumption, damage to nerves during surgery, or traumatic injury.

Whether we realize it or not – we all have habits or things we do that can make our neuropathy worse. Being aware of these potential threats is an important step to making the necessary lifestyle changes to mitigate the danger they pose. We’ve put together a list of four bad habits and various other life factors that can make your neuropathy worse. Lets take a look…

 

#1 – Skipping Sleep

 

causes-of-sleep-problems-cdcLack of sleep is a major problem across the United States and the world. As the pace of modern life has picked up – the number of hours of sleep we get has been on the decline. In 2014 the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention called insufficient sleep a public health epidemic in the United States.

 

So why is sleep important for those with neuropathy? For starters – adequate sleep allows for the body to recover. During our sleep state, the cells work to repair damage and rejuvenate our organisms. Important nutrients and oxygen are carried through the blood stream and delivered to our nerves – supplying them with the essentials they need to repair and recover.

A lack of sleep robs the body of this important recovery time. Additionally, insufficient sleep has been associated with various other negative health outcomes – such as an increase risk of type 2 diabetes – which can induce or exacerbate neuropathic pain.

 

MORE: 5 Tips for Better Sleep with Nerve Pain

 

#2 – Sitting to Much

 

Whether it’s for eight hours behind a desk at the office for four hours watching television in the evening – American’s are spending more time than ever before sitting down. According to a survey conducted by Ergotron, 86% of Americans spend the majority of their day sitting. When they do stand up, 56% of respondents indicated it was to get food.

So what effect can all of this sitting have on your nerves? Sitting for prolonged periods can have a number of damaging effects on the nerves and lead to increased nerve pain. Some of the biggest threats sitting poses to your nerves are:

1. Increase in Blood Sugar

An increase in blood sugar draws excess water into the nerves, causing them to swell while simultaneously making them less pliable. As the nerves swell, the less-pliable coating weakens and cracks, exposing the nerve cells to damage.

2. Pinched Nerves

Pinched nerves can occur after an extended period of pressure of the nerve. Sitting is one of the primary culprits of pinched nerves – especially for those with poor posture or who cross their legs while sitting.

3. Poor Circulation

Sitting cuts off circulation to certain parts of the body – primarily the legs and feet. Without proper circulation, blood can pool up in the legs and feet and the lack of fresh blood and oxygen being delivered weakens or damages the nerve cells. This can exacerbate your nerve pain if you already have neuropathy, or lead to neuropathic pain if you don’t.

Besides posing a threat to just the nerves, sitting has been linked to a number of other negative health problems:

sitting-too-much-infographic

http://mashable.com/2011/05/09/sitting-down-infographic/

 

MORE: How Sitting Is Killing Your Nerves & What To Do About It

 

#3 – Consuming Sweeteners & Added Sugars

 

There are a number of potential causes of peripheral neuropathy, but the most common cause is diabetes. Managing blood sugar levels is especially important for people with nerve pain – especially those with diabetic neuropathy. Added sugars are high glycemic, which complicates blood sugar management and can wreak havoc on your nerves.

Additionally, added sugars offer little nutritional value. A diet high in sugar may lead to nutritional deficiencies that can cause or aggravate the symptoms of neuropathy. Some common foods with added sugars included soda, candy, sweetened cereals, cookies and more.

While artificial sweeteners are a healthier alternative to sugar, they too can pose a threat to your nerves. Sweeteners like aspartame and MSG activate neurons that heighten our sensitivity to pain. In most cases, you are probably better off avoid sweeteners and sugars all together.
 

MORE:  Is Sugar Making My Neuropathy Worse?

 

#4 – Stress

 
Stress is a part of everyone’s life – and in fact is a biological tool that can help us survive. When we’re stressed, our awareness is heightened and our heart/breathing rates increase as we go into “fight or flight” mode. In situations where we are being threatened, this response increases our chances of responding quickly and appropriately to remove ourselves from the threat. These types of situations are usually temporary and our bodies should return to normal shortly afterwards. In today’s hectic world, however, chronic stress is on the rise.

Someone suffering from chronic stress is in a constant “heightened” state. In this heightened state of anxiety, the body and mind remain tense and unable to come back down to normal levels. Among other things, this leaves the body more vulnerable to pain. For those already dealing with debilitating nerve pain, stress often makes it worse.

Aside from aggravating the pain, one of the biggest problems stress can cause for those dealing with nerve pain is an increased risk of diabetes. As part of our stress response, the body produces more glucose. Excess glucose is then absorbed back into our system. Under constant, stress our bodies may fail to break down or use the excess glucose – which can eventually result in type 2 diabetes (one of the biggest causes of nerve damage).

 

MORE: 3 Tactics for Easing Stress-Induced Nerve Pain

 
While you won’t always be able to drastically alter our habits or lifestyle – knowing what habits or lifestyle factors are having a negative effect on your nerves affords you the opportunity to make minor, but meaningful, changes. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve made to help cope with your neuropathy? Share your experiences with us on our Facebook Page!

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