About jimmi24

jimmi24 has been a member since March 8th 2011, and has created 57 posts from scratch.

jimmi24's Bio

jimmi24's Websites

This Author's Website is

jimmi24's Recent Articles

Diabetes, Alcohol, Medications and 7 Other Things That Can Hurt Your Nerves

Ipad showing diagnosis of neuropathyFrom diabetes to vitamin deficiencies – there are a number of potential threats to your nerves. The peripheral nervous system is especially prone to threats as the nerves stretch long distances to your outermost extremities – leaving them more vulnerable to damage. The function of your peripheral nerves is to connect your brain to your extremities – allowing them to communicate with each other. Damage to your peripheral nerves can cause a breakdown in communication, resulting in symptoms such as numbness, tingling, burning and/or sharp pain in your hands or feet (otherwise known as peripheral neuropathy).

So what are the potential threats to your nerves? There are various causes of peripheral neuropathy. While some threats can’t always be avoided – other threats can be avoided or minimized if you know about them beforehand. Lets take a look at 10 potential threats to your nerve that could cause peripheral neuropathy:


1. Diabetes

Of all the threats to your nerves – diabetes is the biggest. Elevated blood sugar – if left unmanaged – damages nerve fibers and blood vessels, resulting in neuropathic pain or numbness. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of neuropathy in the United States with approximately 70% of all diabetic patients developing symptoms of neuropathy.

This graphic shows you just how big of a threat diabetes is to your nerves…

Infographic of diabetic neuropathy


2. Chemotherapy

For cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment, the risk of peripheral neuropathy is greater. Chemotherapy and other drugs used in cancer treatment can damage the peripheral nerves – resulting in chemotherapy-induced neuropathy. An estimated 30-40% of patients undergoing chemotherapy will develop peripheral neuropathy.

For many – the symptoms of their peripheral neuropathy will subside once treatment is over. However, for some, the symptoms may persist even after treatment.

Source: Cancer Related Neuropathies InfoGraphic – An infographic by the team at The Neuropathy created this great InfoGraphic, Please share it!


3. Medications

In addition to medications used to treat cancer – other types of medications have been linked to the development of neuropathy. For example, some medications used to fight infections (including the antiretroviral agents used to treat HIV) can lead to complications of neuropathy. Other potential threats include anti-seizure medications and various heart and blood pressure medicines. Here is a list of medications that have the potential to cause neuropathy:

Medications than can cause Neuropathy

While doctors and pharmacists will do their best to keep you informed of potential side effects of medications, it is important that you do your own research. It is also important to be keenly aware of the effects medications are having on your body. If you begin to notice adverse side effects such as numbness, tingling or nerve-related pain – let your doctor know immediately. In many cases the symptoms of neuropathy will subside once you stop taking the medication – but it is important to address the problem sooner rather than later.


4. Vitamin & Nutrient Deficiencies

You wouldn’t think nutritional deficiencies would be much of an issue in countries such as the United States – but surprisingly – there are a number of common deficiencies in the U.S. and other developed countries. Poor dietary choices are usually the culprit, leaving us deprived of important vitamins and nutrients. Nutritional deficiencies can have a variety of effects on your health; including increased levels of fatigue or weakness, soreness, bruising, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, memory loss and much more.

In addition to the various negative health outcomes mentioned above, some nutritional deficiencies pose a threat to the health of your nerves. A few deficiencies commonly linked to neuropathy are deficiency of vitamin B12, vitamin B2, vitamin D and Magnesium.

four vitamin deficiencies that can cause neuropathy

Of these – Vitamin B12 deficiency plays the biggest part in development of neuropathic pain. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for the health of the myelin sheath – a protective layer of fat around the nerves. A deficiency of B12 can lead to degeneration of this protective coating – leaving the nerves more vulnerable to damage.

For those suffering from diabetic neuropathy – vitamin D is an important vitamin for combating your diabetes and slowing the progress of your neuropathy. Studies have shown that individuals lacking in vitamin D are more likely to develop diabetes. Those who have been diagnosed with diabetes and suffer from low vitamin D levels are more likely to develop complications such as neuropathy. As such, getting enough vitamin D either through exposure to the sun or from food or dietary supplements is hugely important for those with diabetes or diabetic neuropathy.


5. Repeated Pressure On the Nerves

A more silent threat to your nerves is consistent, repeated pressure or compression of nerves or nerve tissue. A variety of activities can cause this to occur. These can include sitting for long periods of time, typing or other repetitive motions that put stress on the nerves, poor posture and more.

For example, sitting for long periods of time can put pressure on the nerves as well as cut of circulation to your feet – depriving the peripheral nerves of the life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients that blood delivers.
Sitting So Much Should Scare You


6. Alcohol

Heavy consumption of alcohol poses a significant threat to your nerves. Alcohol consumption inhibits the absorption of certain vitamins and nutrients into the blood stream. This – combined with the poor dietary choices associated with alcoholism – can lead to nerve damaging vitamin and nutritional deficiencies. For those already suffering from neuropathy, alcohol consumption should be limited to prevent an acceleration of your symptoms.


7. Surgery

According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 51.4 million inpatient surgical procedures were performed in the United States last year. That’s more than 140k surgeries per day! With every surgery there is an inherent risk to the peripheral nerves. In fact, surgery is another common cause of peripheral neuropathy.

The risks to the peripheral nerves during surgery are many. Damage can be caused by inadvertent cutting of nerve tissue, inflammation on or around the nerves, extended contact between nerve tissue and surgical tools or equipment, stretching or compression of nerve tissue and more.


8. Physical Trauma

Another potential threat to your nerves is damage from physical trauma. According to the Mayo Clinic, trauma such as “motor vehicle accidents, falls or sports injuries can sever or damage peripheral nerves.” While you can’t always prevent accidents such as this – make sure to notify your doctor immediately if you experience any of the symptoms associated with nerve pain.


9. Toxins

Exposure to certain toxins can damage your nerves. As mentioned previously in this article – exposure to toxins from cancer treatment and other medications can cause neuropathy. In addition to medicinal toxins, other toxins can prove harmful to the nerves. These include environmental and industrial toxins like lead, mercury or arsenic. Toxins from heavy alcohol consumption can also lead to peripheral neuropathy.


10. Autoimmune Diseases

If you suffer from an autoimmune disease – you may be at greater risk of developing neuropathy. According to the Mayo Clinic, the autoimmune diseases most commonly associated with neuropathy include Sjogren’s syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Guillain-Barre syndrome, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy and necrotizing vasculitis.

While not all threats to your nerves can be prevented – knowing what the threats are can help you take steps to minimize your risk and be better prepared to recognize the cause or source of your neuropathy. Knowing the cause of your neuropathy can – in some cases – provide you with the knowledge you need to begin making changes to slow or even halt the spread of damage.

How has knowing the cause of your neuropathy helped you and your doctor develop an effective treatment plan? Share your comments with us on our Facebook Page.

Beyond the Prescription: Strategies for Fighting Neuropathy without Prescriptions

Doctor giving many medical tablets to patient

While medications provide some level of relief from neuropathic pain – its effects usually don’t last. Rather than cure the ailment – they merely mask the symptoms – helping to take the edge off. Although this relief is welcome, many neuropathy patients long for more lasting relief from the debilitating symptoms of nerve damage.

For those wanting to take control of their treatment, there are a number of lifestyle changes and alternative treatments that can help promote healthier nerves and repair damaged nerves. While you won’t see a difference overnight – these changes can help build the foundation for a long-lasting improvement in symptoms.

Lets look at some simple lifestyle changes and effective alternative treatments you can start trying today to help relief your nerve pain and improve your quality of life:


Healthy Diet

Diet can have a significant impact on the symptoms of your neuropathy. To start – certain foods can contribute to nerve damage or aggravate your symptoms and as such, should be avoided. Some common culprits to avoid if you have nerve pain are casein-based products (commonly found in dairy), artificial sweeteners such as MSG or aspartame, gluten, added sugars and refined grains.

You should also alter your diet to get more of the vitamins and nutrients that are essential for nerve health. Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for nerves. In fact, vitamin B12 deficiency has been linked to neuropathy in some cases. Other important vitamins or nutrients for nerve health include vitamin B1, B2, B6, magnesium, vitamin D, Omega-3 fatty acids and zinc. Here’s a brief guide to some of the best food sources for these nerve-boosting nutrients:

Top food sources of vitamins and nutrients














For those suffering from diabetic neuropathy, switching to a plant-based diet may be effective at reversing the damage caused by their neuropathy. In a study by Anne Brunner, PhD, and Caroline Trapp, MSN, of the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine – patients who stuck to a vegetarian diet and to vitamin B12 supplements showed clinically significant improvements their neuropathy when compared to the group taking only the vitamin B12 supplements.

A similar study by Crane and Sample observed that 81% of type 2 diabetic patients with nerve pain who adhered to a plant-based diet for a period of one month reported a complete relief from their pain. While a change in diet requires discipline, it is an effective means of combatting your nerve pain and finding relief.

Manage Blood Sugar

Part of making healthy diet choices is managing your blood sugar levels. The leading cause of neuropathy today is diabetes. If diabetes was the cause of your neuropathy, managing your blood sugar is the single most important thing you can do to slow, stop or even reverse the damage caused by your neuropathy.

Avoid Excessive Alcohol Consumption

You don’t necessarily have to stop drinking completely – but if you suffer from nerve pain, you should avoid excessive alcohol consumption. That’s because alcohol can block your body’s absorption of important nerve-boosting vitamins and nutrients – putting your nerves in greater peril. Excessive consumption of alcohol can lead to poor choices in diet and ultimately result in vitamin deficiencies such as a deficiency of B12 – which wreak havoc on your nerves.

Stop Smoking

Besides the seemingly endless list of health problems associated with smoking – another good reason to quit is that it’s bad for your nerves! Smoking affects circulation – which can have devastating results on your hands and feet. Your nerves rely on the oxygen and nutrients carried to them through the bloodstream to support their daily functions. Poor circulation inhibits the delivery of these essential vitamins and nutrients to the extremities.



Yoga or Tai Chi

In a study on the benefits of exercise intervention in reducing neuropathic pain, researchers at Georgia Southern University noted that the “benefits of exercise training include improvements in nerve function, reductions in neuropathic pain, reductions in other types of sensory dysfunction (e.g., numbness) and improvements in both static and dynamic functional mobility in those with peripheral neuropathy. Therefore it may be conclude that exercise training can be an effective intervention for many of those symptoms associated with peripheral neuropathy.”

While exercises like walking or the stationary bike can be extremely beneficial – they can also be difficult for those experiencing intense pain or burning in the hands or feet. If that’s the case, you may find alternative exercises such as yoga or tai chi to be beneficial. These exercises focus on stretching, breathing and building core muscles. They are gentle exercises that allow you to workout while limiting aggravation to sensitive areas.

Yoga and Tai chi are especially beneficial to neuropathy patients as they help improve balance and coordination – two things that can be affected by neuropathy in the feet. In addition to this, they also help build muscle strength, increase flexibility, improve circulation, reduce fatigue and combat depression.


Massage is another alternative treatment commonly used to help ease the pain of neuropathy. Regular massage helps:

  • Relax muscles
  • Boost circulation
  • Relieve tender spots
  • Reduce swelling, pain and stiffness
  • Relieve anxiety and stress
  • Increase flexibility and range of motion
  • Promote the release pain-relieving endorphins

For those with neuropathy in the feet, try these 3 Simple Foot Massage Techniques for Neuropathy


Whereas traditional medicines simply mask the symptoms of neuropathy – the purpose of supplements is to help regenerate damaged nerves to provide lasting relief from the pain, burning or numbness. There are various vitamins, herbs and other natural compounds that can be beneficial to damaged nerves. These include B complex vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil), amino acids like acetyl-l-carnitine, and antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid. Various herbs such as primrose oil, oat straw, feverfew, passionflower and skullcap have also shown to effective in alleviating neuropathic pain.

Like any treatment, it may take time to notice improvements. Ask your doctor what supplements might be right for you and be sure to stick with it for at least 3 months. For many people – supplements have made a lasting impact in reducing the severity of their symptoms and providing much needed relief.

Learn more about 5 Ways B Vitamins Fight Nerve Pain >

Whether you’re recently diagnosed or you’ve suffered for years – taking your treatment beyond just prescription medications can have a profound impact on the severity of your neuropathic pain and result in more lasting relief. While not all approaches may bear fruits – it is important to explore and try the different lifestyle changes and alternative treatments available in order to find those that do.

What lifestyle changes or alternative treatments are you considering for your neuropathy? Share your comments with us on our Facebook Page.

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

woman sitting at desk

It’s no secret that sitting is detrimental to our health. As it turns out – our bodies are made to stand. When standing, the natural curvature of the spine helps distribute weight evenly throughout the body.

Sitting – as comfortable as it may be at times – is unnatural for the body. Weight is no longer distributed evenly, causing strain on different parts of the body. After just a short period of time, circulation slows and blood begins to pool in the legs. Spend even longer and eventually the posture begins to break down – resulting in deformed ligaments and increasing the risk for slipped discs.

In recent years, study after study has shown that sitting for long periods of time can have numerous adverse effects on our bodies. Among the problems that prolonged sitting can cause are an increase in blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, poor circulation, pinched nerves, numbness, muscle degeneration, heart disease, back problems, cognitive difficulties and more.

For those of us with nerve pain, many of these problems can spell trouble for our nerves. As neuropathy has already damaged our nerves and/or their protective coating (myelin sheath) – they are more susceptible to further damage. Sitting can have both a direct and indirect impact on these vulnerable nerves.

Lets take look at five ways a sedentary lifestyle can negatively impact the health of your nerves and learn some tips and tricks to help minimize the adverse effects:

Pinched Nerves

Sitting for a long period of time can put pressure on nerves – sometimes resulting in a pinched nerve. Pinched nerves usually result from poor posture or sitting with the legs crossed for extended lengths of time. Symptoms typically include tingling and numbness in the affected area. Sharp pain, burning and irritation can also be associated with a pinched nerve.

While the peripheral nerves are prone to this problem – it can actually affect any nerve in the body. It often afflicts the sciatic nerve, which is the largest nerve in the body. In these cases, it usually results in lower black pain. Other areas commonly affected by pinched nerves are the neck, legs, elbows and wrists.

High Blood Sugar

In a study of over 80,000 participants, researchers recently linked sitting for long periods of time to a 2x increase in the risk of diabetes. According to Emma Wilmot, MD, “When we sit for long periods of time, enzyme changes occur in our muscles that can lead to increased blood sugar levels. The effects of sitting on glucose happen very quickly, which is why regular exercise won’t fully protect you.”

Diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy among adults. If you have type 2 diabetes, your body’s production of insulin – the chemical that regulates blood sugar – decreases. The excess blood sugar wreaks havoc on your nerves. It is estimated that as many as 70% of all diabetes patients have some form of nerve damage – usually referred to as diabetic neuropathy.

For those with diabetic neuropathy, managing blood sugar levels is the key to stopping and reversing the damage to your nerves. While we typically associate blood sugar management with changes in diet – it is important to be aware of how sitting can affect blood sugar.

High Blood Pressure

Yet another negative outcome linked to sitting is hypertension – or high blood pressure. Imagine your blood vessels are like a bicycle tire tube. You need the right amount of air pressure for the tire to do its job. Too little pressure and it will be difficult to ride. Too much pressure and you may damage the integrity of the tube. So it is with our blood vessels. If the blood pressure gets too high – and remains high for too long – it can damage your arteries.

High blood pressure has been linked to overactive nerves. Overactive nerves have a difficult time performing their normal functions and often trigger false signals that result in pain, tingling, numbness or irritation. Besides posing a threat to your nerves, high blood pressure is also linked to problems like heart disease, heart failure, stroke and more.

Poor Circulation

The longer you sit, the more your blood circulation slows. As the circulation slows, blood begins to pool in the legs and feet. Poor circulation harms nerves by cutting off the flow of fresh blood – which carries vital oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Deprived of these, the nerve can become weakened and more vulnerable to damage. Over time, reduced blood flow can cause neuropathic symptoms such as numbness, pain or tingling in your arms or legs.

On the flip side, good circulation delivers these important nutrients to both the nerves and other systems throughout the body. Experts say that circulation can be negatively impacted after only ten minutes of sitting – so regular standing or stretching throughout the day can help get the blood flowing again and reduce the negative impact.

Muscle Degeneration

Muscle degeneration is the shrinking of muscle mass – usually caused when movement is restricted or there are prolonged periods of little to no physical activity. Severity can range from partial to complete muscle loss.

For many with nerve pain, muscle degeneration is already a serious concern as the pain can cause one to limit their physical activity or use the extremities. Sitting can exacerbate the problem by further promoting muscle degeneration.

Tips for Minimizing the Negative Effects of Sitting

Despite the health hazards associate with sitting – we tend to lead quite sedentary lives. Many of us spend the majority of our waking hours sitting. We might find ourselves stuck at a desk job for 8 hours a day. When we get home at night, we sit for another 3-4 hours or more browsing the Internet, watching tv, reading, etc. Whether we like it or not – the reality is that much of our lives are spent sitting.

So what can we do about it? While you may not be able to (or even want to, for that matter) eliminate sitting from your life – there are things you can do to help minimize some of the negative impacts of sitting. A few things we recommend trying are:


Workplace Tips:

  • Stand or stretch every 20-30 minutes at work
  • Stand up every time you talk on the phone
  • Try to maintain good posture and use lumbar support
  • Request a standing desk
  • Schedule walking meetings rather than meeting in a conference room. You’ll be surprised at what a little exercise can do to spur more productive meetings!
  • Rather than sending an email – get up and walk over to the person you were going to email and speak to them in person


Home & Lifestyle Tips:

  • If watching TV is your way of relaxing after a long day of work – try standing and doing a simple exercise during commercial breaks (i.e. jumping jacks, stretching, etc)
  • Better yet – try walking on the treadmill while you watch your favorite show!
  • During warmer months – try a new outdoor habit to get you off the couch. You could try gardening, walking, bicycling, hiking, etc.

The key to minimizing the effects of sitting is to incorporate these habits into your routine throughout the day – if possible. Evidence indicates that even rigorous exercise at the end of the day won’t reverse the damaging effects of sitting. As already mentioned, the chemical changes and effects of sitting happen so quickly that the best defense it to break up your sitting routine throughout the day.

How has sitting negatively impacted your health and what things have you done to break up your routine? Share your tips with us on our Facebook Page.

8 Signs You Might Have Neuropathy

person with foot pain from neuropathyJump onto any neuropathy related message board or online forum and you’ll see that there are a wide range of causes, types and symptoms of neuropathy. The symptoms you experience will vary depending on the cause of your neuropathy, the type of peripheral nerve that was damaged (sensory, motor, autonomic) and the extent of damage to the nerve or its protective coating (known as the myelin sheath).

The most common symptoms associated with neuropathy tend to be pain, numbness or tingling – usually in the arms, legs, hands or feet (though they can manifest themselves elsewhere in the body as well). These symptoms are associated with damage to the sensory nerves – the nerves responsible for sending and receiving sensations such as pain, temperature or touch. While these may be the most recognizable symptoms of neuropathy, they certainly aren’t the only ones.

Since peripheral neuropathy can also affect the motor and autonomic nerves, symptoms can extend beyond simply just pain, numbness or tingling. Motor nerves help control muscle movement and therefore damage to this type of nerve can affect your motor functions. Autonomic nerves control functions such as digestion, bladder, heart rate and more – meaning neuropathy can affect these functions as well.

You may be surprised to see that a number of problems you’ve experience have links to your neuropathy. To better understand the scope of symptoms related to neuropathy, lets take a look at the broader scale of problems nerve damage can create for those suffering from neuropathy:

Sharp, stabbing pain

When the sensory nerves or their protective coating have been damaged, the processing of sensory inputs from the peripheral nerves is disrupted – often resulting in painful sensations. One of the painful sensations that afflict many suffering from neuropathy is sharp, stabbing pains. These stabbing pains are sometimes described as feeling like jolts of electricity striking the afflicted area. They can also create painful burning sensations in the arms, legs, hands or feet.

The part of the body afflicted can also become more sensitive to touch. In severe cases, even the slightest touch can result in excruciating pain. A common problem for those suffering with sensitive feet is the inability to sleep without the foot being aggravated by the bedding. Some remedies include sleeping without sheets, using a special frame to keep bedding off of the feet or wearing socks to protect the feet from rubbing against the sheets.

Numbness & Tingling

Another symptom related to damage of sensory nerves in the peripheral nervous system is numbness and tingling. Numbness can afflict any area of the body, but as previously mentioned, the most commonly afflicted areas are the hands and feet. This is because the nerves at the extremities are most vulnerable to damage.

While those suffering from sharp pains may welcome numbness, it does present its own set of challenges. Those experiencing numbness are at greater risk of damage from external factors. The numbness may affect their ability to feel pain sensations that would otherwise protect them from serious damage. For example, placing a numb hand or foot in bath water that is too hot could result in serious burns. Sores or blisters on the feet could go unnoticed and become infected.

There are a number of external risks to be aware of. For those experiencing numbness, using extra caution in these kinds of situations can help prevent further damage. Daily inspection of the feet for sores or blisters can help you catch the problem before it’s too late.

Loss of Balance

Perhaps you’ve noticed your sense of balance seems a little off – that it’s not quite what it used to be. If you have – you’re not crazy. Peripheral neuropathy can throw off your sense of balance – especially if your symptoms have manifested themselves in the feet. This is especially true if you are experiencing numbness in the feet.

Numbness in the feet or legs can wreak havoc on your sense of balance. Researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University recently published their findings on the link between peripheral neuropathy and balance. Researchers observed that patients suffering from neuropathy have a greater separation between the body’s center of mass and the center of pressure during movement than those without neuropathic symptoms. The greater the separation, they noted, the more likely one is to lose their balance. Researchers concluded “For the first time, we have shown that balance is markedly impaired in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy during the gait activities of level ground walking, stair ascent and stair descent.”

Muscle Weakness & Inability to Control Motor Functions

When the motor nerves are damaged it can weaken the muscles and affect your ability to control muscle movement. This is often manifested in the hands or feet. The weakening of muscles and inability to control muscle movement in the hands or feet can affect even the most basic activities. For example, it may be difficult – or in severe cases, impossible – to stand, walk or even hold something in your hand.

As the neuropathy weakens the muscles, it can lead to muscle degeneration (muscle atrophy) and weaker reflexes. For those experiencing muscle weakness or muscle control problems – speak to your doctor about low impact exercises and dietary supplementations to help maintain muscle strength and prevent muscle shrinking.

Muscle Cramps or Twitching

Another symptom of peripheral neuropathy in motor nerves is cramping in the muscles. The resulting symptoms can range from muscle twitching underneath the skin to debilitating cramps. Since the nerves are often intertwined within the muscles, the constriction then release of the muscles can pull on the nerves – further damaging the nerves and resulting in painful sensations associated with the cramping.

Dizziness or Lightheadedness

Neuropathy can also affect the muscles that help regulate blood pressure – rending them unable to expand or constrict to control the pressure. Sudden movements – such as going from a seated position to a standing position – can trigger a drop in blood pressure. Unable to counteract this drop quickly enough, the body can become lightheaded or dizzy.

Sweating Abnormalities

If your neuropathy has affected the autonomic nerves you may experience abnormal sweating patterns. For some, this may mean excessive sweating – particularly in the upper body. For others it may result in an inability to sweat – which can lead to problems with body temperature regulation. Lack of sweating can also result in excessively dry skin on the feet.

Digestive Problems

Another possible symptom of neuropathy is digestive problems. Nerve damage can disrupt normal digestive functions and slow the process by which the stomach is emptied. Some digestive problems related to neuropathy might include alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation, heartburn, bloating, and lack of appetite or feeling full after eating only small amounts of food.

Determining the cause of your neuropathy and the understanding type of nerve(s) affected are important for understanding your symptoms. While pain, numbness and tingling may be the most common symptoms associated with neuropathy – the true breadth of symptoms can expand much further. Understanding your symptoms and recognizing the potential links to your neuropathy can help you get the best possible treatments to alleviate your pain or discomfort.

What symptoms have you experienced as a result of your neuropathy? Share you experiences with us on our Facebook Page.

10 Questions Every Neuropathy Patient Should Ask Their Doctor

Doctor explaining diagnosis to her female patientIf you’re meeting with your doctor or neurologist for the first time to discuss your neuropathy-like symptoms – such as pain, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet – your mind is likely swirling with questions, concerns, what-ifs and more. Taking the time beforehand to write down a list of questions or concerns you wish to discuss can have a significant impact not only on your peace of mind – but also on your chances of receiving the best advice and care possible for your own unique circumstances.

Asking the right questions can help both you and your doctor better understand your symptoms as well as foster an environment where you can get the answers you need to make informed decisions regarding your treatment. If you’re not sure where to start or what questions to ask, try using these 10 questions. They can help get the conversation going and may spark additional questions or concerns…

1. What are the potential causes of my peripheral neuropathy?

The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes – but it is far from the only cause. Other possible causes of nerve pain can include vitamin deficiencies, chemotherapy, trauma, surgery, etc. As treatments may vary depending on the cause of your nerve damage, determining the cause is critical to finding the right treatment plan.

Want to learn more about potential causes of neuropathy? Check out these 7 Potential Causes of Your Neuropathy >

2. What are the most common symptoms of neuropathy? Do my symptoms fit the bill?

Be prepared to describe all of your symptoms – even if you’re not sure that they’re related to neuropathy. Openness and communication is key to determining whether your symptoms fit the bill for neuropathy and identifying their potential cause.

3. What can I take for the pain?

For many, the pain from nerve damage can be intense – even debilitating. Ask your doctor what medications are available for the pain. Medications can range from over-the-counter pain relievers to prescription painkillers. Various other prescription medications are also used to treat neuropathy pain, including both anti-seizure and anti-depressant medications.

Though they may not completely eliminate the pain, they can take the edge off and help calm overactive nerves. Restoring the calm can help get you your life back and allow you to focus on something other than the pain.

Want to know more about common treatments for Neuropathy Pain? Check out these 7 Common Treatments for Nerve Pain >

4. What negative side effects should I worry about with prescription medications?

Many prescription medications have a long list of adverse side effects and those used to treat nerve pain are no exception. For example, anti-seizure medications – a popular treatment for neuropathy – have a long list of side effects including drowsiness, dizziness, nausea, blurred vision, confusion and more.

Knowing the potential risks up front can help you make an informed decision about which medications to try and which to avoid. Your doctor can help explain any potential risks and help you weigh them against potential benefits.

5. What alternative treatments or therapies are there for the pain?

Prescription medications aren’t the only option available for treating neuropathic pain. There are various other treatments and therapies that can serve as complementary treatments – or, if you want to avoid prescriptions altogether, can serve as primary treatments.

Alternative treatments may include supplements, acupuncture, TENs therapy, nerve blocks, physical therapy and more. More often than not, your doctor will recommend a multi-pronged approach to repairing nerve damage and easing nerve pain. This may include medications as well as some of the options mentioned above. Asking your doctor about all possible options available to you is a great way to show your interest in trying anything – conventional or not.

6. Should I be tested for a vitamin deficiency?

One of the potential causes of peripheral neuropathy is a deficiency of vitamin B12. This important vitamin helps build and maintain a protective coating around the nerves known as the myelin sheath. Additionally, vitamin B12 helps boost and repair damaged nerves. A deficiency in this important vitamin has been linked to nerve damage and peripheral neuropathy.

If there are no obvious causes of your symptoms (i.e. diabetes, chemotherapy, recent surgeries, etc) ask your doctor about whether or not he/she believes a vitamin deficiency could be contributing to the problem. If they deem it necessary, they can run a simple test to determine whether a deficiency of vitamin B12 is playing a role in your peripheral neuropathy or not.

7. What can I do about the tingling, numbness or burning?

For most suffering from neuropathy, the nerve damage first manifests itself in the feet – often in the form of burning, tingling or numbness. As mentioned previously, both prescription and over-the-counter medications can help counteract some of these symptoms. In addition to oral pain relievers, there are topical creams formulated to help bring relief from the symptoms of neuropathy.

Neuropathy creams contain capsaicin, a component found in chili peppers. The capsaicin acts as an analgesic to help relieve pain and irritation. It is commonly used to bring temporary relief to those suffering from peripheral neuropathy.

8. What, if any, lifestyle changes should I make?

There is an old Chinese proverb that states, “He who takes medicine and neglects to diet wastes the skill of his doctors.” We would take it a step further and say that he who neglects making certain lifestyle changes (including, but not limited to diet) wastes the skills of his doctors.

For those afflicted with nerve pain, making lifestyle changes can have a positive impact on their symptoms and improve their chances of finding relief. These lifestyle changes might include quitting smoking, limiting or eliminating alcohol consumption, changing your diet or making low impact exercises part of their daily routine. The changes will largely depend on your lifestyle, as well as the cause of your neuropathy. Ask your doctor what changes you need to make and then create a plan to do it.

9. Are there any local support groups or networks for people with Neuropathy?

There may be a neuropathy support group in your area. These groups can be a valuable resource and help you learn from others who have walked in your shoes. You can gain first hand insight from others on different treatments, lifestyle changes and anything else related to living with neuropathy. Having the ability to talk to others experiencing the same difficulties as you are lets you know you’re not alone and can provide a valuable boost to your morale. To find a support group near you, search here.

If there aren’t any support groups in your local area, connect with a support group online. You can reap the same benefits from online support groups as local groups. Here are a few online support groups to get you going:

The Neuropathy Association

Neuropathy Support Network

 10. Is there anything I need to be more cautious about?

Since neuropathy often causes numbness, it is important that you take extra care of the afflicted areas. Avoid exposure to extreme cold or heat and be sure to check the area daily for any signs of concern.

If your symptoms are manifest in the feet, it is especially important that you check your feet daily for damage. Check for blisters or infections or other signs of problems. Wash your feet daily with warm water and be sure to dry them thoroughly. Make sure your shoes and socks fit comfortably and aren’t causing any rubbing or irritation on the feet – as this may go unnoticed with numbness.

Ask your doctor what other special precautions you should take. The last thing you want is to cause more problems when some simple preventative measures can protect you from them.

Remember – when you’re visiting your doctor or neurologist about your peripheral neuropathy – it should be a conversation. While they are experts and know what to do – going to your appointment prepared with your own questions can foster productive conversations that can help them gain greater insight into your problems and help you get the answers to the questions or concerns you have.

Use these ten questions as a starting point and add other questions to this list. Between each appointment, keep a running list of questions or concerns. Before you know it, you’ll possess a wealth of knowledge and information that will help you make informed decisions when coping with your neuropathy.

Neuropathy Treatment Group - All Rights Reserved 2014

The statements made on our websites have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). Our products are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Neuropathy Treatment Group is not affiliated with any of the studies mentioned on the website. The testimonials on this website are individual cases and do not guarantee that you will get the same results.