Peripheral Neuropathy 101: The Basics of Nerve Pain

Now That You’ve Been Diagnosed with Peripheral Neuropathy, How Can You Treat and Manage Your Nerve Pain?

There are so many causes of peripheral neuropathy. Chemotherapy drugs, diabetes, shingles, injuries, even hereditary conditions can lead to nerve pain and numbness.

Unfortunately, there are almost as many ways to treat peripheral neuropathy as there are causes. When you have just received a peripheral neuropathy diagnosis, how can you know what to do next?

Many doctors will prescribe medications, or surgery.

But there are other options, too, and one of them might be a lifesaver for you. What I mean is that your quality of life can be as high as possible, despite peripheral neuropathy.

Consider some of these complementary therapies that can make a tremendous difference for many neuropathy patients:

Walk, Swim, or Cycle as Often As You Can

Moving the biggest muscles of your legs on a regular basis can result in positive changes to your circulation and improved blood flow. That’s good news for people with peripheral neuropathy.

Getting Blood Sugar Under Control

It’s almost unbelievable, but when you’re dealing with diabetic neuropathy, controlling your blood sugar can sometimes reverse nerve damage.

Be Sure To Take Excellent Care of Your Feet

Peripheral neuropathy can cause foot numbness, which means you may not immediately notice a small injury that could become infected—a very dangerous condition for diabetics and others with foot neuropathy. You should wear comfortable shoes with socks (even at home) to avoid injuries, and inspect your feet thoroughly each and every day.

Take the Right Supplements for Nerve Health

For reducing symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, a combination of folic acid, vitamin B12, B6, and B1 is ideal. Even the healthiest diet may not provide enough of the nutrients you need to heal nerve damage. Of course, always talk with your doctor before changing your vitamin regimen or taking any new supplement.

Looking for reliable supplements for peripheral neuropathy? Take a look at our FDA-approved neuropathy supplements.

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Chemotherapy Neuropathy and What You Can Do About It

Chemotherapy Neuropathy is One of the Least Well-Known Side Effects of Cancer Treatment, But You Can Take Action to Minimize Its Effects.

We’ve all heard about the classic side effects of chemotherapy for cancer treatment: hair loss, nausea, disrupted digestion. But did you know that a common side effect, which is rarely discussed, is tingling or numbness in the extremities?

This condition, known as peripheral neuropathy or Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN), can be unpredictable, and it can severely impact your quality of life. What’s more, sometimes chemotherapy neuropathy will subside and eventually disappear months or years after your treatment is over, but sometimes the nerve damage lingers well after you are believed to be cancer free.

Some of the typical symptoms of chemotherapy neuropathy in the hands or feet include:

  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Burning sensation
  • Shooting or “electric” pains

For many patients, chemotherapy neuropathy is so bad that it keeps them from functioning normally during the day or even sleeping at night.

So, what can you do to combat chemotherapy neuropathy?

Your oncologist or other physician may have prescribed medications to help manage the symptoms of your CIPN. But there’s so much more that you can do beyond simply taking drugs and hoping for the best.

Complementary and integrative therapies have been shown to be effective in reducing or eliminating chemotherapy neuropathy for many people. You might have heard of these as a broad category called CAM, for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

If chemotherapy neuropathy is an issue for you, some of the complementary therapies you might consider are:

  • Supplements like alpha lipoic acid (B12) that can ease symptoms
  • Acupuncture and Chinese medicine
  • Specific herbal supplements to strengthen nerve health
  • Massage therapy aimed at cancer patients
  • Gentle exercise, as recommended by your physician

Be sure that you talk with your oncologist before beginning to use any kind of supplement or alternative treatment, to make sure that it will not interfere with your primary cancer treatment.
For more information about nerve health and chemotherapy neuropathy, we recommend the “neuropathy owners manual,” I Beat Neuropathy!

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Massage Therapy Treatments for Chemotherapy Induced Neuropathy

Chemotherapy’s Side Effects are No Picnic, Including Chemo-Induced Neuropathy Pain. Massage Therapy is One of Several Treatment Modalities That Can Help.

Chances are, you were hoping that when your chemotherapy cancer treatment was over, you’d be done with medications entirely.

Unfortunately, neuropathy is a common side effect of some chemotherapy treatments. In some cases, the neuropathy symptoms end within weeks or months of the end of chemotherapy. In other cases, neuropathy induced by chemotherapy drugs may be permanent.

But it’s important to understand that even if your neuropathy symptoms aren’t curable, that doesn’t mean that the current level of pain and impairment is a permanent fixture in your life. That’s because there are ways to treat chemotherapy neuropathy that can significantly reduce pain and discomfort. For many patients, massage therapy is a key aspect of treatment.

Peripheral neuropathy induced by chemotherapy may have any of these qualities:

  • Numbness, burning, or tingling in your feet, toes, hands, or fingers
  • Shooting nerve pains
  • Insomnia because of pain and discomfort

Here’s how massage therapy can help to reduce those problems.

In short, massage therapy means manipulation of the body’s soft tissues. One of the key features of massage therapy is its ability to improve blood circulation, which can reduce nerve damage in addition to relieving pain.

Massage therapy also helps you to relax, not just while you’re on the massage table but for days afterward. Relaxation is so important for neuropathy patients, because tension tends to make pain seem even worse. Being able to relax will also significantly improve your ability to sleep at night—which affects your quality of life significantly.

Massage therapy is just one form of the “complementary or alternative therapies” that we recommend for many patients with peripheral neuropathy. The best neuropathy treatment plans will often complementary therapies like massage, in addition to lifestyle changes, high-tech treatments like laser therapy, and appropriate medications.

To understand more about custom neuropathy treatment plans, please take a look at the “neuropathy owner’s manual,” I Beat Neuropathy!

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Is There a Peripheral Neuropathy Cure?

It’s The First Question On Your Mind When You Are Diagnosed: Is There A Cure For Peripheral Neuropathy?

It’s the big question. When you’re just been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, there’s only one thing you want to know: Is it going to get better? Is there a cure?

I wish I could say a resounding YES in answer to this question. Maybe a more honest answer would be, “Not yet.” Unfortunately, depending on how your specific case of neuropathy originated, many cases of nerve damage are permanent.

But don’t stop reading there! What you need to know about peripheral neuropathy is that there ARE steps you can take to treat your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Yes, peripheral neuropathy is a chronic condition, but we have learned so much over the years about how to effectively manage symptoms.

One of the areas that can be greatly improved for anyone with peripheral neuropathy is increased mobility. You may be experiencing mobility-related symptoms such as motor neuropathy, which decreases the strength of your limbs; decreased fine motor skills and dexterity in your fingertips;or trouble walking because of stiff joints and painful feet.

All of these problems can be frustrating and can severely impact your daily life, when even the simplest tasks have become incredibly difficult. This can lead to mood disorders like depression, a secondary effect of peripheral neuropathy for many people.

That’s why the best approach to peripheral neuropathy treatment is multi-faceted. The closest thing we have to a “cure” is a flexible treatment approach that incorporates at-home nutrition and exercise adjustments, along with state-of-the-art options like laser therapy, based on a customized assessment from a trained NeuropathyDR® clinician. You’ll be able to take symptom management into your own hands and return to living the life YOU want to lead.

To start improving your quality of life right away and take charge of peripheral neuropathy, click here to locate a NeuropathyDR® clinician near you.

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Self-Diagnosing Neuropathic Pain is a Dangerous Game

Attempting to Diagnosis and Treat Neuropathic Pain On Your Own Just Delays Effective Treatment (and Could Worsen Your Symptoms)

In some ways, the Internet has been a blessing in terms of the availability of medical information. This can be so helpful if you suspect that you have the flu, or a mild skin rash, or poison ivy.

Where it’s not helpful, and may be very harmful indeed, is when you rely entirely on the Internet for self-diagnosis of serious health concerns related to neuropathic pain—including diabetic neuropathy, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, shingles, peripheral neuropathy, or chemotherapy neuropathy.

When you attempt to self-diagnose and self-treat these conditions, you are impeding a truly helpful evaluation by a trained neuropathy doctor that can prevent additional nerve damage and substantially improve your quality of life.

In short, by attempting to treat your own neuropathic pain, you are wasting your health and valuable time—in short, making your condition worse. Early treatment is crucial for the success of eliminating neuropathic pain.

We’ve talked to so many patients with neuropathic pain who delayed seeing a NeuropathyDR® clinician because they wanted to save money. They inevitably tell us that they regret the wasted time and the long-term expense caused by increased nerve damage and all that it entails.

When you are dealing with neuropathy related to diabetes, chemotherapy treatment, and other serious conditions, it’s so important to think long-term. Neuropathy isn’t just an annoying side effect. It is a degenerative condition that will get worse over time and complicate other health concerns.

You may have learned that self-reliance and “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” is a good thing. In the case of neuropathic pain symptoms, however, the worst thing you can do is spend time trying to diagnosis and treat yourself.

When we say that self-treatment and home care is important, we’re referring to lifestyle elements implemented over time that complement the medical therapies recommended for you by your NeuropathyDR® clinician.

Self-treatment is an important component of your neuropathy treatment, AFTER a clinical diagnosis. Anything else is just a delaying tactic—one that could severely impact your health, not just today but years from now.

To read more about the diagnosis process and where to go from here with neuropathic pain, take a look at our neuropathy “owner’s manual”: I Beat Neuropathy!

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Neuropathy Pain Is Serious Business! The Hidden Dangers of Autonomic Neuropathy

Neuropathy Pain Can Lead to Serious and Life-Threatening Nerve Damage. Here’s What You Need to Know for Your Long-Term Health.

You already know that neuropathy pain can significantly impair your quality of life on a daily basis, and in a long-term way. But did you realize that ignoring neuropathy pain can actually contribute to the development of life-threatening illness?

When there is nerve damage to your autonomic systems (the parts of your body that function automatically, like digestion and blood pressure), these systems are likely to stop behaving like they should. This is called autonomic neuropathy, and it can actually threaten your life. Any impairment of autonomic systems is an immediate danger to your health.

When are you at risk for autonomic neuropathy? You should consult a qualified neuropathy physician if you have any of these conditions that are frequently associated with neuropathic pain and damage from autonomic neuropathy:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer that is being treated with chemotherapy
  • AIDS or HIV
  • Lupus

It is also extremely important for you to seek the support of a NeuropathyDR® clinician if you are experiencing any of these nerve damage symptoms:

  • Unusual sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Tingling or numbness in extremities
  • Change in the way you feel sense hot and cold temperatures
  • Sexual problems
  • Loss of ability to control your limbs or fingers and toes

You might also be in a high-risk category for developing autonomic neuropathy related to neuropathic pain if you have had a severe injury or amputation. In these cases, be sure to see a NeuropathyDR® clinician for a consultation now, instead of waiting for symptoms to develop.

There are times when a trained physician can detect nerve damage before any symptoms arise, and early intervention in treatment is key—not just to quality of life over time in terms of neuropathy pain, but also avoiding life-threatening scenarios related to autonomic neuropathy.

For a list of NeuropathyDR® clinicians near you, see Find A Neuropathy Treatment Center.

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The First Steps You Should Take After You Learn That You Have Neuropathy

Unsure What To Do Next After a Neuropathy Diagnosis? The First Steps Are Simple But Effective in Managing This Condition.

Finally, after a lot of confusion and misdiagnosis, your doctor has said that your symptoms are caused by neuropathy. It may be a relief to have a diagnosis and a name for the pain, tingling, or numbness you’ve been experiencing. Then again, you may simply feel discouraged and have no idea what to do next.

By far, the number one question I get from patients is, “Now what?” After a neuropathy diagnosis, what should a patient do next?

In particular, the doctor who diagnosed you may not have been able to offer much guidance. Most doctors just don’t have the training or knowledge in this area.

But there are specialists out there who can collaborate with you on a customized neuropathy treatment plan, one that is tailored to your specific needs—because neuropathy is not a cookie-cutter condition.

My advice to you as a newly diagnosed neuropathy patient is to follow these steps:

  1. Immediately put in place an effective management plan for any urgent or underlying medical conditions that you may have, including cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.
  2. Locate a neuropathy treatment specialist who can aid you in forming a treatment plan specific to your needs. If there is not a trained neuropathy doctor local to you—one who is willing to advise real corrective action rather than simply masking symptoms with medication—then there may be a NeuropathyDR® specialist who can consult from a distance with your medical team.
  3. Look closely at the everyday habits that are impacting your health. Do you smoke? Are you physically inactive? These are things that you can, and should, change so that your overall health will improve both short-term and long-term. Willingness to shift your eating habits toward a supportive neuropathy diet will also have a huge impact on your symptoms and well-being.

There is much that you can do on your own to benefit your health and reduce neuropathy symptoms. Working hand in hand with your NeuropathyDR® clinician, your health WILL improve.

Take a look at our patient’s guide to neuropathy and how to navigate your neuropathy treatment: I Beat Neuropathy! Getting Your Life Back on Track.

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The One Neuropathy Treatment Component You Shouldn’t Overlook

The Most Important Neuropathy Treatment Is Something That Is Totally Within Your Control: Your Daily Routine.

More than anything else that you can do in terms of neuropathy treatment, your daily routines are the foundation of your well-being. That’s true not only in the short term but looking at your long-term health prospects as well.

Have you ever truly considered the powerful impact of daily habits on your physical and emotional health?

What you do every day can strengthen your overall health in a systemic way. Or, with different choices, it can be at odds with your health goals and may possibly undermine any neuropathy treatment plan developed for you.

It comes as no surprise that your daily health choices include things like what you eat and drink, whether you use tobacco, and how much exercise you’re getting.

In addition, take a careful look at how you use your mind over the course of a day. Are you engaging in lots of passive activities, like watching TV? Or do you choose actively stimulating options such as meditation, reading, or creative acts such as knitting or woodworking?

In effective neuropathy treatment, these choices are extremely important—especially as you advance in age and face more health challenges.

And it’s not just what choices you make, but how regularly you implement them, that matters most. Healthy habits to support your neuropathy treatment plan need to be scheduled in as a regular part of your daily routine.

Here are some great neuropathy treatment components that can and should be scheduled into your daily routine:

  • Non-strenuous movement activities
  • Small, frequent meals and snacks to support a neuropathy diet
  • Supplements recommended by your NeuropathyDR® clinician
  • Other basic health supports like sufficient sleep and hydration

Sometimes, timing is everything. That’s why consulting with a trained neuropathy treatment professional is key to your long-term health.

Interested in a consultation with a NeuropathyDR® clinician in your area? Click here to find a trained neuropathy professional near you.

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Is Peripheral Neuropathy Interrupting Your Sleep?

For Peripheral Neuropathy Sufferers, Here’s Why Insomnia is a Serious Symptom that Can’t Be Ignored

Did you know that more than 70 percent of people with neuropathy also struggle with insomnia? When chronic pain and tingling in feet or hands is keeping you awake at night, it’s a good bet that you’re not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep that you need for good overall health.

There are mixed reasons why neuropathic pain is tied to sleep problems. Pain associated with peripheral neuropathy has a tendency to feel more intense at night, when you’re tired and when there are fewer distractions available to break your focus on the pain.

What’s more, there may be another strong tie between insomnia and neuropathy. Sleep apnea is a very common cause of sleep disorders, and research has indicated that untreated sleep apnea can actually lead to peripheral neuropathy symptoms. And if you’re diabetic and resistant to insulin, sleep apnea may be even more likely to affect your neuropathy.

Of course, it stands to reason that lack of adequate sleep can make your peripheral neuropathy symptoms seem even worse than before. It’s a fact that lack of sleep tends to lower one’s pain threshold significantly.

Here are some of our guidelines for improving sleep when dealing with peripheral neuropathy.

  • Limit your caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evening.
  • Institute a sleep routine that helps you wind down at night and go to sleep at about the same time every evening.
  • Don’t eat a large or heavy meal late in the evening. If your body is hard at work on digestion, it’s not resting.
  • Make any needed changes to your bedroom to induce restful sleep, including temperature, darkness, and noise.
  • Limit electronics at night, including television, computers, and any handheld devices. These have a stimulating effect on your brain. If you need an activity to help you sleep, try reading an actual book!

These are simple guidelines that can help you institute lasting positive change in your sleep patterns, hopefully leading to reduced peripheral neuropathy discomfort. But true relief can come only with the support of a trained NeuropathyDR clinician who can tailor the treatment to your specific needs. Click here to find a NeuropathyDR clinician in your area.

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Neuropathy and the Holidays: Ways to Reduce Damaging Holiday Stress

Holiday stress can contribute to worsening of neuropathy symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about how to effectively cope at this time of year.

Hands down, the holidays are one of the most stressful events we encounter in our lives… and they come every year, just like clockwork!

That’s true for anyone, but it’s also true that people with neuropathy related to diabetes or chemotherapy cancer treatment may have higher stress levels than most. In this situation, without a strategic self-care in place, you may be feeling far from thankful or joyful. Holiday stress can add a physical burden to your already overburdened body.

But there’s good news. Holiday stress can be significantly reduced with just a little advance planning. Here’s how you can reduce the impact of the holidays on your neuropathy symptoms.

First, begin by understanding the physical toll that stress takes on your body’s systems. Whether it’s mentally or physically based, stress activates the release of hormones that tell your liver to create glucose, which can wreck your blood sugar levels if you’re diabetic. What’s more, people who are stressed and tired are more likely to ignore their glucose levels or stick to a diabetes-friendly diet.

The second strategy for reducing neuropathy aggravating stress during the holidays is to know yourself and what is most stressful for you. Do what you can to control and minimize your exposure to stressful situations. For example, if driving during rush hour frays your nerves, try to vary your route to work to avoid some of that traffic or leave home at a different time than usual. Or consider alternatives, such as public transportation or carpooling. If you hate to cook but feel obligated to provide a lavish Thanksgiving meal, think of a different way to accomplish the same goal, such as ordering an already prepared turkey or asking a family member to share the cooking responsibilities this year.

Third, it’s a great idea from a neuropathy treatment standpoint to teach yourself a couple of simple relaxation exercises now so that they are easily accessed in your memory when you really need them. Start by reconnecting with your breathing—not by trying to change the pattern of your breath, but simple noticing how it feels to breathe. Spend at least twenty seconds relaxing into your breathing pattern. Progressive relaxation, in which you tense the muscles of each part of your body and then relax them, can also be an effective way to deal with holiday stress.

Be sure to talk with your NeuropathyDR® clinician about the best ways for you personally to minimize holiday stress. He or she will be able to prescribe specific types of exercise, supplements, and healthy eating that can support you best during the stress of the holiday season.

If you need help connecting with a NeuropathyDR® clinician in your area who can effectively monitor and treat your neuropathy, click here.

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