10 Things That Are Making Your Neuropathy Worse

Black and white photo of a person with neuropathy in feet and highlighted red pain areas

What if I told you there were certain things you are (or aren’t) doing almost every day that are making your neuropathy worse? It might surprise you, but chances are that statement is true for a large number of people with neuropathy. While some things are obvious, there are many hidden threats to your nerves. Nerve damage can spread faster and symptoms can become more intense if these things are left unaddressed.

I’ve made a list of 10 of the most common things people do (or fail to do) that can make their neuropathy worse. Check out the infographic to see what they are then read below for a more in-depth analysis of each one!

 

10 Things That Make Neuropathy Worse

 

Click to download 10 Things That Make Neuropathy Worse PDF

Vitamin Deficiencies:

Are you getting enough of the right vitamins and nutrients to keep your nerves healthy? There’s a chance you may not be. One of the most important vitamins for your nerves is vitamin B12. Unfortunately, it is notoriously poor at absorbing into your system – so even if you eat a diet rich in B12, you may still be deficient.

 

MORE: 40% of People Aren’t Getting Enough of This Nerve Boosting Vitamin – Are You?

 

B12 helps support and maintain a healthy nervous system, including building up and repairing the myelin sheath (a protective coating around your nerves). If you go too long without getting enough B12, your nerves are at a higher risk of being damaged and developing neuropathy.

Other important vitamins and nutrients for your nerves include Vitamin D, Magnesium, b-complex vitamins, zinc, and Omega-3 fatty acids.

 

Diet

Another big threat to your nerves can be your diet. Certain foods can heighten your sensitivity to pain and also deprive your nerves on the vitamins and nutrients they need to stay healthy. Avoid foods with high amounts of sugar, artificial sweeteners (i.e. MSG), caffeine, casein-based products (i.e. certain dairy products), gluten and refined grains.

 

Not controlling blood sugar

Did you know the number one way to stop and even reverse diabetic neuropathy is to manage your blood sugar? And even for those whose neuropathy is not related to neuropathy, controlling blood sugar from huge spikes helps protect the nerves from becoming cracked and less pliable.

 

MORE: Is Sugar Making My Neuropathy Worse?

 

Certain Medications

Believe it or not, some of the medications you take may be hurting your nerves and could lead to neuropathy. Common meds that have been linked to neuropathy include cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, diabetes drugs (metformin) and some antibiotics. For a full list of medicines that have been linked to neuropathy, click the link below:

 

Click to see 70+ drugs linked to neuropathy

 

Sitting for Too Long

Study after study has shown how detrimental sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day can be. Unfortunately, many of us have to do so for work. Sitting for too long can be especially hard on your nerves, cutting off circulation and starving them off important nutrients and oxygen delivered by the blood. It can also pinch nerves or put constant strain on them, leading to nerve damage.

When possible, try to stand up and stretch every 20 mins or so to get your blood circulating.

 

Stress

Stress is one of those unavoidable things in life – but what you do with it can make a big difference. If left unmanaged, stress releases chemicals that heighten your sensitivity to pain. It also triggers the body to produce more glucose as part of the stress response, increasing your risk of diabetes.

To prevent stress from negatively impacting your health and your nerves, find ways to relieve stress daily. Exercise, mindfulness, and meditation are three very effective ways to manage stress.

 

Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol hurts the nerves in two ways. First, toxins within alcohol can damage your nerves. Second, alcohol blocks the absorption of important nerve-boosting vitamins and nutrients. While a drink here and there won’t hurt – avoid drinking excessively or daily.

 

Smoking

We all know smoking is bad for you – but what you may not have realized is that it can damage your nerves and worsen your neuropathy. Smoking constricts your blood vessels, choking off the supply of fresh oxygen and nutrients to your nerves.

 

Lack of exercise

While exercise can be difficult with neuropathy, it is important as it helps improve circulation and maintain muscle mass (which can deteriorate as a result of nerve pain). Various studies have shown that simple, low-impact exercises like walking or water aerobics can reduce nerve pain and ease the symptoms of neuropathy significantly.

 

MORE: 5 Low Impact Exercises for Neuropathy

 

Not seeking treatment

One of the biggest myths about neuropathy is that there’s nothing you can do to cure it, so you shouldn’t waste your time or money on medicines or treatments to stop it. While most forms of neuropathy may not have a cure, the nerve damage can be prevented from spreading if treated correctly.

So, you can do nothing and risk allowing the damage to spread – resulting in more pain and discomfort. Or you can take steps to slow down and contain the damage, which can prevent you from suffering even more than you already do.

From the food you eat to the medicines you take, there are a number of potential threats to your nerves. Review the infographic above and make note of which changes you can make today to prevent your neuropathy from getting worse.

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Inside You'll Discover:

  • The causes of Neuropathy and the little known tricks to reduce the symptoms. The top natural, but highly effective, ways to reduce the pain, numbness and burning
  • The RIGHT kind of vitamins to take that can help repair nerve endings.
  • Small lifestyle changes that can dramatically improve your well-being...and much more

10 Healing Foods to Ease Nerve Pain & Slow Neuropathy

Sunflower seeds on a plain wooden spoon that outlines the importance of healthy fats in neuropathy

Of all the medicines and remedies you’ve considered for your neuropathy treatment – I’ll bet food wasn’t high on the list (if it was even on the list at all). Believe it or not though – emerging research is showing that the types of foods we consume can have a powerful effect on our nerves – and may even help heal or repair damaged nerves.

Foods can have a positive or negative effect on your neuropathy. Some foods can actually weaken or damage the nerves further – leading to exacerbated symptoms. Knowing what these foods are and avoiding them at all costs can go a long way in preventing the spread or worsening of your nerve pain, numbness or tingling.

MORE: 4 Foods to Avoid if You Have Nerve Pain

Other foods can strengthen your nerves – helping to guard against further damage and boosting the health of your peripheral nervous system. In some cases, the foods you eat may even help repair damaged nerves, resulting in relief from the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. These nerve-boosting foods are the topic of today’s blog post.

Let’s take a look at 10 foods you should include in your diet to both boosts nerve health and promote the healing of damaged nerves:

 

Vitamin B12 rich foods

Of all the vitamins and nutrients for nerve health – B12 is one of the most important. Vitamin B12 helps build, sustain and repair the layer of protective fat around the nerves. This protective coating, known as the Myelin Sheath, is an essential defense against harmful substances that could damage or destroy nerves. Without enough vitamin B12, the myelin sheath weakens, leaving your nerves more vulnerable to damage. In fact, a deficiency of vitamin B12 is one of the leading causes of neuropathy.

You may be thinking “well, my nerves have already been damaged – so what use is it now?”. In some studies, ultra-high doses of vitamin B12 have been shown to actually rebuild and repair damaged nerves[1]. Also, even if you already have neuropathy, vitamin B12 can help protect your undamaged nerves and help slow or prevent the spread of your symptoms to other areas.fresh salmon

Top food sources of Vitamin B12:

  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Cod
  • Yogurt
  • Fortified cereals

 

Vitamin B1

One of the primary sources of fuel for your nervous and muscular systems is vitamin B1. This critical vitamin has two important roles to help fuel your nervous system. First, it helps convert carbohydrates into energy so the nervous system can use it. Second, it helps in the creation of ATP – which is a molecule used by every single cell in the body to transfer chemical energy between cells for metabolism.

The biggest problem with vitamin B1 is that it has difficulty absorbing into our systems – so when we consume it through food sources only a small fraction makes it in. For that reason, we typically suggest taking a daily vitamin B1 supplement in addition to eating B1-rich foods.sunflower seeds

Top food sources of Vitamin B1:

  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Navy Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Green Peas
  • Lentils

 

Vitamin B6 – but not too much!

Often when we recommend vitamin B6 we get responses that it can actually hurt your nerves and cause neuropathy. This is true – but only if you get too much of it. According to the National Academies Institute of Medicine, the tolerable upper intake levels (UL) for adults (both men and women) is 100 milligrams. Anything above 100 milligrams a day could potentially result in harmful side effects – including sensory neuropathy[2]. They also report that no cases of vitamin B6 excess have been reported from getting too much B6 from food sources. Typically, excessive use of B6 supplements is the culprit.

So, why do we recommend eating foods with vitamin B6? It’s simple. The key reason is that your body needs B6 in order to properly absorb vitamin B12 into your system. Remember vitamin B12 from earlier? It’s one of the most important vitamins for nerve health – so without B6, the body cannot absorb it.

A few more key functions of B6 is that it helps produce neurotransmitters for carrying signals between nerve cells, helps maintain normal blood sugar levels and contributes to energy metabolism to help keep your various systems alive and well.spinach

Top food sources of Vitamin B6:

  • Fortified cereals
  • Tuna
  • Salmon
  • Chicken
  • Spinach

 

Vitamin B2

Just as vitamin B6 is needed for the body to be able to use B12, vitamin B2 is needed to for the body to make use of B6! It’s as if each vitamin is a link in a chain – if a link is missing the chain becomes less effective. In this case, the last link in the chain – Vitamin B12 – is also the most important for your nerves. Without vitamin B2 and B6, your body’s ability to properly absorb and make use of these vitamins for the benefit of your nerves becomes significantly handicapped.Almonds

Top food sources of Vitamin B2:

  • Soybeans
  • Beet Greens
  • Spinach
  • Asparagus
  • Almonds

 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Don’t let the name fool you – Omega-3 fatty acids won’t cause weight gain. Instead, they can help provide a wealth of health benefits – many of which are highly beneficial to those of us with nerve pain.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of Omega-3 fatty acids is that they can promote faster recovery of damaged nerves. Various important studies have shown that Omega-3 helps promote quicker recovery from sciatic nerve pain as well as reducing pain in neuropathy patients by repairing the myelin sheath (the protective coating around your nerves). In one study of chronic pain patients – those who were given 2,400-7,200 mg/day of Omega-3 fatty acids reported a significant reduction in neuropathic pain, even as long as 19 months after the study![3]flaxseeds

MORE: 3 Surprising Nerve Boosting Benefits of Omega-3

Top food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Flax seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Soybeans

 

Ginger

Among the foods that can help relieve the pain associated with nerve damage, Ginger ranks right up there among the best. Its healing powers can be attributed to its compounds known as gingerols. Gingerols are anti-inflammatory compounds that can are particularly effective in reducing pain levels and increasing mobility among those with chronic pain.ginger

MORE: Pain Relieving Ginger Tea Recipe

 

 

Potassium & Magnesium 

Potassium and magnesium are both essential for proper nerve function. Potassium helps generate energy so that the nerves can transmit messages. The way it does this is called the sodium-potassium pump. Essentially, there is more potassium inside your cells and more sodium outside. When the gate that allows one or the other to leave or enter the cell opens – potassium shoots out and sodium floods in. This “pump” generates the energy for your nerves to transmit messages.

Magnesium helps relax the nervous system – calming overactive nerves and relaxing your muscles. This calming effect on the nerves and muscles helps reduce pain and improve mobility. Low levels of potassium and magnesium may result in fatigue, cramping, and weakness – among other symptoms.

Top food sources of potassium & magnesium:

  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Beans and peas
  • Fresh fruits
  • Quinoa

 

Antioxidants

Did you know that right now in your body there are molecules known as free radicals that are attacking your nerves? They’re trying to break down the protective coating around your nerves (the myelin sheath) and destroy the nerve cells. Scary, right?

More: 3 Best Antioxidants for Easing Nerve Pain

These free radicals actually have a functional role in helping the body digest food and turn it into energy – but when too many are produced they become a hazard to your body and health. That’s where antioxidants come in. Antioxidants seek out and neutralize excess free radicals in the body – thereby protecting your nerves and various other cellular systems from damage or destruction. Antioxidants like acetyl-l-carnitine and coenzyme Q10 are particularly effective at helping fight nerve damage and relieve neuropathic pain.

Top food sources of antioxidants:

  • Blueberries
  • Walnuts
  • Dark green vegetables
  • Beans
  • Fish

 

Water

Didn’t think you’d see water on the list, did you? While water may not possess any miraculous healing powers to cure neuropathy, it can help prevent pain from worsening due to inflammation. A lack of water can lead to muscle spasms and blood thickening – which can cause inflammation and disturb areas that are already more susceptible to pain. Staying adequately hydrated helps your body’s various organisms and systems perform their roles more effectively and can create a better sense of well-being.

So there you have – those are 10 things you can incorporate into your diet today to help relieve some of the symptoms of your neuropathy and give your nerves their best chance at fighting back and healing. What foods has your doctor recommended as part of a holistic approach to fighting neuropathy? Share your answers with us below or leave a comment on our Facebook page! We’d love to hear from you.

Sources:

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8021696

[2] http://iom.nationalacademies.org/reports/2000/dietary-reference-intakes-for-thiamin-riboflavin-niacin-vitamin-b6-folate-vitamin-b12-pantothenic-acid-biotin-and-choline.aspx

[3] http://www.qmul.ac.uk/media/news/items/smd/61746.html; http://journals.lww.com/clinicalpain/Abstract/2010/02000/Omega_3_Fatty_Acids_for_Neuropathic_Pain__Case.14.aspx

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Inside You'll Discover:

  • The causes of Neuropathy and the little known tricks to reduce the symptoms. The top natural, but highly effective, ways to reduce the pain, numbness and burning
  • The RIGHT kind of vitamins to take that can help repair nerve endings.
  • Small lifestyle changes that can dramatically improve your well-being...and much more

Top 10 Herbs & Supplements for Nerve Pain

All-natural herbs used as a alternative treatment for neuropathy and 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 a 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

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 the 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 the 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 the 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 the 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 the underlying causes of your nerve pain – providing a 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!

Get a FREE copy of this powerful book

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Inside You'll Discover:

  • The causes of Neuropathy and the little known tricks to reduce the symptoms. The top natural, but highly effective, ways to reduce the pain, numbness and burning
  • The RIGHT kind of vitamins to take that can help repair nerve endings.
  • Small lifestyle changes that can dramatically improve your well-being...and much more

8 Signs You Might Have Neuropathy

Jump onto any neuropathy related message board or online forum and you’ll see that there is 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 experienced have links to your neuropathy. To better understand the scope of symptoms related to neuropathy, let’s 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 from 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 releases the muscles that 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 your experiences with us on our Facebook Page.

Get a FREE copy of this powerful book

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Inside You'll Discover:

  • The causes of Neuropathy and the little known tricks to reduce the symptoms. The top natural, but highly effective, ways to reduce the pain, numbness and burning
  • The RIGHT kind of vitamins to take that can help repair nerve endings.
  • Small lifestyle changes that can dramatically improve your well-being...and much more

7 Common Treatments for Nerve Pain

electrodes of tens device on shoulder, tens therapy, nerve stimulation as an alternative treatment for nerve pain

Navigating one’s way through the various treatments and therapies available for peripheral neuropathy can be an overwhelming process.

Finding the right treatment for your own peripheral neuropathy will often depend on the underlying cause of your neuropathy and the progression of your symptoms.

Once you’ve discussed your symptoms with your doctor and have undergone the necessary lab tests, your doctor will discuss the recommended treatment options with you.

Knowing the different options beforehand can help you to make an informed decision and – with the help of your doctor – choose the best option for you.

To help you understand your options, let’s take a look at a few of the most common treatments and therapies used to treat peripheral neuropathy.

 

Medications

Medicine

There are a number of medications – both prescription and over-the-counter – that can help alleviate some of the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. These include pain relievers, antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, and capsaicin.

Pain relievers generally help relieve pain by reducing inflammation caused by nerve damage. Anti-seizure medications and some antidepressants alter chemical processes in the brain that are related to pain. Additionally, they help calm overactive nerves – helping to reduce pain-inducing nerve signals from being transmitted.

Capsaicin is a chemical harvested from hot peppers and used in topical creams. It can help create a numbing effect for those suffering from nerve pain. As with most medications, the side effects of the medications used for neuropathy can vary.

It is important to pay attention to any adverse side effects and discuss them with your doctor.

 

Therapeutic Nerve Block

If prescription medications aren’t providing relief, another option is a therapeutic nerve block. A nerve block is an injection of an anesthetic into the affected area. The anesthetic can help disrupt or block pain signals to the brain – providing temporary relief to those suffering from intense nerve pain.

 

TENS Therapy (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation)

electrodes of tens device on shoulder, tens therapy, nerve stimulationTENS is a type of therapy that – after receiving initial training from a doctor or therapist – can be done at home. It involves placing adhesive electrodes – attached to a small battery pack – onto the area in pain. Using the low voltage setting recommended to you by your doctor or therapist, you turn the device on to transmit electrical currents to the skin.These electrical currents are believed to help ease pain related to peripheral neuropathy by stimulating the affected nerves and thereby sending signals to the brain to help block the usual pain signals. Additionally, it is believed that the stimulation helps promote the release of pain-killing endorphins in the body.

 

Supplements

Vitamin and herbal supplements can help provide lasting relief and supply the body with important nerve boosting nutrients. A few common supplements for nerve pain include alpha-lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine, fish oil, vitamin B12 (methylcobalamin), oat straw extract and skullcap extract.

 

Blood Sugar Management & Diet

If your neuropathy was caused as a result of diabetes, the most effective treatment for stopping nerve damage is maintaining proper blood sugar levels. In many cases, you can even reverse the effects of diabetic neuropathy through a disciplined diet and nutrition.

See More: 10 Healing Foods to Ease Nerve Pain and Slow Neuropathy

 

Physical Therapy

Man going through physical therapy with female physical therapist due to neuropathy, tingling, and numbnessThe effects of neuropathy can go beyond just pain and numbness. Since peripheral neuropathy most commonly affects the feet and hands – we often reduce our physical use of those extremities. Over time, this can result in muscle deterioration and weakness as well as poor circulation – which can further aggravate nerve pain.

Physical therapy can help the body to restore and maintain healthy muscles and promote better circulation. Popular therapies for neuropathy include massage, water aerobics, yoga, and other low impact exercises.

 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture, like physical therapy, can be a great complementary treatment. Acupuncture typically involves the insertion of thin, sterile needles into various acupuncture points across the body. For some, these alternative therapy helps reduce the symptoms of neuropathic pain.

Besides the treatments mentioned above, your doctor might recommend additional lifestyle changes such as to quit smoking or limit alcohol consumption – as these and other lifestyle habits can have a damaging effect on the nerves. For most, the results from the various treatments will vary. While some may see results immediately, for others the effects may take time. It is important to maintain hope and be as consistent as possible.

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Inside You'll Discover:

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