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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Diabetic Neuropathy May Not Respond to Traditional Treatment Approaches!

A General Doctor or Nutritionist May Be Giving You Outdated Diet Information When It Comes to Managing Diabetic Neuropathy.

You’ll see that I have been mentioning diabetes frequently on this blog. That’s because it is unfortunately such a common precursor to developing symptoms of neuropathy.

And diabetic neuropathy can be painful and difficult to treat. It is frustrating for both doctors and patients!

What seems to be the case is that in general, diabetic neuropathy is not being treated aggressively. Diabetes patients are being told that they should lose some weight and get some exercise. But “some” isn’t good enough when it comes to diabetic neuropathy.

What’s worse, you may have been given specifics about a diabetes diet from a nutritionist, but if you look closely, that diet still contains too many grains and fruits.

With diabetic neuropathy, you will need to keep carbohydrates at an absolute minimum—even “healthy” carbs. Most people with diabetic neuropathy should be restricting carbs to 15 g at one meal.

Of course, talk with your doctor before undergoing any significant health lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise. These changes will require you to adjust any medications you are taking for diabetes control, especially insulin. It is dangerous to change your diet or activity level without consulting your doctor.

It’s also important, of course, to be your own best health advocate. Management of your diabetic neuropathy is within your control. The ideal is to work with a trained neuropathy specialist who can tailor your diabetic neuropathy treatment to your own specific health needs and lifestyle. A neuropathy clinician will be interested not only in your lab numbers but in the details of your quality of life and be looking to help you improve on that drastically.

To find a diabetic neuropathy expert in your area, click here.

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Does Your Neuropathy Treatment Include Exercise and Movement?

No Neuropathy Treatment Plan is Complete Without a Strategy for Physical Activity to Enhance Health.

You already know that physical exercise is good for everyone.

It’s easy to think that this general advice about movement for good health just doesn’t apply to someone like you who is struggling with neuropathy pain or numbness.

After all, many people undergoing neuropathy treatment have a hard time with mobility. It might seem absurd to think of yourself “exercising” when it’s hard to even reliably walk without falling, or when neuropathy pain makes it uncomfortable to be very active.

However, the fact is that your health is on a downhill decline as long as you are living a sedentary lifestyle. Inactivity contributes to problems with metabolism, which can lead in turn to diabetes and other global health problems. It can also make your neuropathy symptoms worse.

And there ARE safe and effective ways for people in neuropathy treatment to become more active on a day to day basis.

For example, people who struggle with walking because of neuropathic pain in the legs or feet can have good success with low-impact exercise equipment, such as a stationary bike. You might also consider exercises done in a heated pool. Chair yoga and stretching are also appropriate ways to incorporate gentle movement into your day.

The best part of incorporating more movement into your daily routine is that it’s simple to add just a little exercise here and there. Even making sure that five minutes out of every hour contains some kind of physical activity will make an impact on your long-term health.

Be sure to talk with your neuropathy treatment clinician about the best kind, frequency, and duration of exercise for you and your unique health situation. Remember, in neuropathy treatment, there is no “one size fits all” prescription.

For more information about ways to enhance your neuropathy treatment through diet and exercise, take a look at our neuropathy owners manual, I Beat Neuropathy!

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Peripheral Neuropathy is Best Managed Through Frequent Meals

Did You Know That Eating More Often Can Actually Help Heal Your Peripheral Neuropathy?

We know that obesity can contribute to medical conditions like diabetes that cause peripheral neuropathy. So it may not seem logical that eating more often, not less often, could be a primary way to address peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

Why would frequent meals be a GOOD idea for peripheral neuropathy sufferers? Here’s an explanation.

When you eat few meals per day, you are essentially training your body to store fat. That’s a primal survival mechanism to keep calories available to you as needed for fuel. It works against you when you are eating more calories in one meal than you really need—and especially if your meals are loaded with “bad” fats and simple carbohydrates.

On the other hand, when you eat more frequent meals, you’ll be training your body to burn fat more efficiently through stimulating metabolism. Frequent meals can also help to regulate your blood sugar levels.
Of course, there’s a catch. It isn’t enough to just eat more often. You’ve got to make sure that WHAT you are eating is nutritious and supportive so that you’re slowly healing your peripheral neuropathy, not making it worse.

The diet we recommend for those with peripheral neuropathy is based on fewer (and complex) carbs and plenty of good protein and healthy fats. It’s best to avoid going more than three hours without eating a meal or snack.

Obviously, for diabetics who need insulin to regulate blood sugar, follow the advice of your doctor.

Everything we know about healing peripheral neuropathy is based on a close working relationship with a specially trained neuropathy treatment specialist who can customize YOUR treatment to address YOUR neuropathy symptoms and overall medical condition.

Click here to find a NeuropathyDR® specialist in your area.

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Neuropathy Treatments and Too Many Choices

Choosing Your Neuropathy Treatments Specialist is the Most Important Step Back to Wellness.

The first step to choosing effective neuropathy treatments is the hardest. That’s because it may feel that the path of treatment is entirely up to you.

Unfortunately, many general practitioners, oncologists, and other doctors are just not trained with a specialty background in neuropathy—leaving patients to research on their own to try to understand their treatment options.

This is a confusing process that is made worse by the fact that neuropathy isn’t just a single disease. It’s a condition with many individual factors. Your experience of neuropathy is unique in the context of your entire medical history and specific symptoms.

And that is why there are so-called neuropathy treatments or “cures” out there that just will not work for most people…. because they are a blanket approach to a very individual problem.

When it comes to neuropathy treatments, the most effective path is one that uses multiple effective treatment components in a way that is uniquely tailored to your needs.

For that reason, the first step and the very most important step, before looking at any specific neuropathy treatments for your symptoms, is to find a highly trained neuropathy specialist who will do a thorough assessment in order to create YOUR unique treatment plan.

This plan will probably involve addressing any underlying conditions that aggravate neuropathy, such as diabetes, as well as components of lifestyle and diet changes, appropriate medications, and state of the art therapies like laser light therapy.

Note that medication was not the first item on that neuropathy treatments list. That’s because neuropathy specialists understand that medication is not a cure-all for neuropathy symptoms, and sometimes can actually impair your quality of life due to side effects.

The most important thing you can do for your health today is to talk with a NeuropathyDR® clinician. Click here to find a neuropathy specialist in your area.

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Daily Self Care is a Vital Part of Treatment for Diabetic Neuropathy

In Treating Diabetic Neuropathy, Daily Self Care is an Essential Component of Getting Back on the Road to Wellness.

Diabetic neuropathy refers to a specific kind of peripheral neuropathy that is unique to diabetes patients. It happens when poor circulation prevents nerves from getting enough blood flow, and it’s exacerbated by lack of control over elevated blood sugar.

Long-term, diabetic neuropathy can cause severe nerve damage that can be debilitating and have a huge negative impact on quality of life.

If you have any of the following symptoms and have diabetes, it’s very important to get a thorough assessment from a trained diabetic neuropathy clinician:

  • Pain in feet or legs
  • Tingling or burning in legs, feet, hands or arms
  • Numbness or lack of sensation
  • Cramping or weakness in muscles
  • Inability to distinguish warm and cold

If a trained neuropathy specialist finds that you have diabetic neuropathy, the first step to better health will involve getting your diabetes under good management to avoid any additional nerve damage. This may involve medications and/or a diabetic neuropathy diet. Along with reducing sugar sources in your diet, you will want to make sure you’re getting lots of whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meats, and enough fiber.

This diet will provide a basis for healing so that you can begin to chip away at diabetic neuropathy symptoms and improve your quality of life. Your diabetic neuropathy specialist may also recommend nutrient supplements, high-tech innovations such as laser therapy, or complementary medicine such as massage or acupuncture.

It’s important to understand that there is much you can do at home, aside from a healthy neuropathy diet, to provide self care to aid and hasten your healing. You will need to visually monitor your feet and hands every day for any inflammation, blisters, sores, or broken skin to avoid infection. You can also undertake a gentle exercise routine based on input from your diabetic neuropathy specialist.

For more information on the diabetic neuropathy diet and other self care you can do at home to improve quality of life, take a look at I Beat Neuropathy!

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What’s The Prognosis for Hereditary Neuropathy?

Diagnosed with a Hereditary Form of Neuropathy? Here’s How to Treat Longstanding and Progressive Nerve Symptoms.

If you have hereditary neuropathy, you may have received your diagnosis years ago in your 20s or 30s, or even in your teens. You’re probably already familiar with terms like these: HNPP (Hereditary Neuropathy with Liability to Pressure Palsies), Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, DSD (Dejerine-Sottas Disease), or HMN (Hereditary Motor Neuropathy).

You probably also already know the kinds of symptoms that these hereditary neuropathies can cause:

  • Pain in the hands and feet
  • Tingling or numbness, especially in extremities
  • Weak and emaciated muscles in the legs and feet
  • Problems sweating
  • Deformities of the foot (such as hammer toes) or spine (such as scoliosis)

But what you may not know is the vast advancements in treating hereditary neuropathy that have been made over the past few years. Though your condition is not curable, it is in many cases highly treatable.

Here are the general types of hereditary neuropathy that we usually see in our clinics. People with sensory neuropathy have limited input from touch and the other “six senses” that we normally gather information about the world. People with motor neuropathies have limited mobility or range of motion. People with autonomic neuropathy have trouble with their bodies’ ability to efficiently regulate things like their heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and other body systems that normally take care of themselves without any input from us. And some folks have mixed neuropathies that affect more than one body system.

Genetic testing is the primary way to diagnose hereditary neuropathy, along with nerve biopsies and nerve conduction studies. All of these elements are needed for an accurate diagnosis. Your neuropathy specialist should also interview you for information about your family’s health going back two to three generations. It’s important to note that you might have a hereditary form of neuropathy even if you don’t know of anyone in your family with similar symptoms.

When it comes to formulating a treatment plan, keep in mind that hereditary neuropathy can’t be cured, but treatments are available to help you heal as much as possible and significantly improve your quality of life. Typically, your treatment plan should include several elements, including:

  • Addressing any underlying medical conditions, such as diabetes
  • Beneficial lifestyle changes, including nutrition and appropriate exercise
  • Medication (in some cases)
  • Physical or occupational therapy
  • Other high-tech treatment options, such as laser light therapy

It’s vital to seek a diagnosis and treatment planning from a highly trained neuropathy specialist who can customize your treatment for your specific needs. Click here to find a NeuropathyDR® specialist near you.

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Is Your Neuropathy Treatment Addressing These Vital Concerns?

Any Competent Neuropathy Treatment Specialist Knows That These Three Areas of Your Health Need To Be Examined Together For The Best Long-Term Prognosis.

Too often, physicians without specialty training in neuropathy treatment tend to look at neuropathy symptoms one by one, as if they are separate problems.

They might also have outdated ideas about neuropathy—such as the belief that when nerves stop functioning correctly, it’s because the nerves are dead and can’t be restored. (These days, we know so much more about how to nurture damaged nerves back to health! But not every doctor has this up-to-date training.)

In truth, neuropathy is truly a global health problem affecting many of your major systems. And in many cases, impaired nerve function CAN be restored to some degree.

The most effective neuropathy treatment will involve methodically examining your core health in three areas.

First of all, good neuropathy treatment will closely evaluate your metabolic function to make sure that your body is being as energy-efficient as possible. We do this through dietary changes and supplements, in addition to addressing any underlying issues with diabetes, thyroid problems, or other serious medical conditions. Without this baseline, attempting surface-level neuropathy treatment just won’t be very effective in the long-term.

Next, we will look at how the biomechanics of your body—essentially, how well your skeleton is functioning. That’s because things like disc problems, arthritis, or old injuries from your athletic youth can interfere with circulation to your nerves. For this reason, restoring joint and muscle function as much as possible is a priority in helping to reduce your neuropathy symptoms.

Finally, we’ll also use specific neuropathy treatment protocols that have been shown to positively impact symptoms. Components like LED light therapy, laser therapy, massage, and nerve stimulation can be done in the neuropathy treatment specialist’s office. There are also home kits available that you can use to continue gaining relief on your own.

Click here to read more about at-home neuropathy treatment using our FDA-approved home care kit.

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A Focus on Mobility in Your Neuropathy Treatment

Your Neuropathy Treatment Plan Should Include Appropriate Exercise to Help You Retain Your Ability to Walk and Move Normally.

No doubt, one of the most crippling side effects of chronic pain and neuropathy is losing normal mobility function—in other words, reduced ability to walk and move around as you used to do.

It’s such a common experience for neuropathy sufferers. Unfortunately, reduced mobility has dangerous side effects of its own, including an increased chance of becoming ill with other chronic conditions like heart disease, or making an existing condition (such as diabetes) significantly worse.

You might think that it would make sense for your doctor to prescribe rest when you have neuropathy symptoms, especially when walking seems to make your symptoms worse.

But light exercise (approved by your physician, of course) can actually help to reduce your symptoms and aid your overall health. That’s because even a small amount of activity can have good health effects like increasing your energy, raising your body temperature, and helping to maintain adequate muscle tone.

What’s more, if you are able to institute a regular program of doctor-approved light exercise, you may find that you don’t need as much pain medication!

This is a tricky area, though—striving for just the right amount of activity that isn’t too much (which can exacerbate neuropathy symptoms) or not enough (which causes problems of its own). It’s important for you to follow an appropriate exercise program that you’ve developed in collaboration with your neuropathy specialist.

When you are talking with your doctor about the appropriate type and duration of exercise, keep these key points in mind:

  • Staying well hydrated is so important. You’ve got to make sure to get an adequate amount of water every day—not just any old beverage, but specifically water, which your body’s systems must have in order to function as well as possible.
  • Try to avoid getting cold, which brings on stiffness. That means wearing light but warming layers of silk, microfiber, or wool, even in the warmer months. You’ll also need to stay out of drafts and wind, which may make certain neuropathy symptoms much worse.
  • Most of all, you’ll need to eat well in order to get the right nutrients and avoid neuropathy triggers. Our NeuropathyDR® diet is designed specifically with these goals in mind.

Are you ready to take charge of your neuropathy symptoms and get your mobility back? Just for you, we have created the neuropathy owner’s manual: I Beat Neuropathy!

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How to Improve Your Quality of Life with Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy Can Severely Impair Your Everyday Functioning—Unless You Take These Important Steps Back to Good Nerve Health

You already know from experience that peripheral neuropathy can have severe and destructive effects on your everyday quality of life. With neuropathic pain, even the easiest tasks can begin to feel impossible. It’s hard to work, to move around, or even to sleep when you are affected by nerve pain, numbness, and tingling.

When we talk about “quality of life” in the medical setting, we are looking at the degree to which you have been able to adapt to your medical condition. We take a look at things like your interactions with family and friends, your physical well-being, the activities you enjoy in your life, and your own perception of the state of your health.

That last one is crucially important. We know that your beliefs and attitudes about your underlying medical condition (such as diabetes, lupus, or HIV/AIDS) make a huge difference in your quality of life and your ability to deal with peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

Peripheral neuropathy is considered to be chronic pain. It’s not something that will come and go; people with peripheral neuropathy symptoms tend to experience them constantly. This kind of never-ending pain can be disruptive to your ability to work, your social life, your sleep routine, and your mental health. Many people with peripheral neuropathy become anxious or depressed due to their experience of chronic pain.

The Good News About Quality of Life with Peripheral Neuropathy

Let me share the good news about neuropathic pain. Although most nerve damage is permanent and there is no true cure for peripheral neuropathy, there are many things that you are able to do to improve your quality of life and regain close-to-normal functioning.

First, take good care of your feet, wear comfortable shoes and socks, and avoid going barefoot. Get foot massages to help reduce pain and improve your circulation. Call your doctor immediately if you notice any sore spots, blisters, or other issues on the soles of your feet.

Next, cut back on caffeine and nicotine. If you’re able to quit, do so! Nicotine has been shown to decrease your circulation, and caffeine most likely is making your peripheral neuropathy pain even worse.

Try to maintain an active lifestyle to the extent that is possible for you. Of course, you’ll need to check with your doctor or peripheral neuropathy clinician before beginning any exercise program. Exercise will improve your circulation, your mood, and your overall quality of life.

Finally, one of the most important changes you can make is to follow the NeuropathyDR® diet that provides everything your body needs to begin healing peripheral neuropathy. This is best undertaken under the supervision of a NeuropathyDR® specialist who can prescribe a custom treatment plan for your individual needs. To find a NeuropathyDR® specialist near you, click here.

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