Picture it: You lace up your sneakers and grab your wallet before stepping out of your front door into the sunlight, you want to go for a brief walk on a warm Sunday afternoon. You turn the corner past your block and when your left heel steps off the curb, a familiar and unpleasant tingling begins to creep into your feet.
With each step, the tips of your toes begin to burn and both feet are now tingling. You turn back before you are too far from home and a deeper burning sensation sets in, and travels up your legs. Disappointed, you make your way to the front door and wince in pain, as you remove your shoes once you are inside.
If you’ve experienced burning, sharp pains, tingling, or throbbing in your feet, or other parts of your body, and you’ve had to stop what you are doing to attend to your symptoms, you are probably familiar with neuropathy symptoms.
Neuropathy or nerve damage is a condition that impacts specific nerve tissue that can be the result of an injury to the peripheral nerve, the spine, cranial nerves, brain, feet, legs, arms, shoulders, and more. But what can you do to manage and prevent neuropathy pain? Keep reading to learn about seven tricks and tips that can help you manage your neuropathy.
Keeping up with physical activity can be a helpful way to stay limber, reduce pain and cramps, and regulate other parts of your body that are affected by neuropathy such as blood sugar or blood pressure. The daily recommendation of exercise for adults is at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week, however, it’s important to modify this amount to match your abilities.
Make sure to stretch before engaging in any physical activity to warm up your body before a workout and prevent any cramps or injuries, and have a full range of motion. Exercise will be a helpful tool to maintain strength, mobility, and function when dealing with neuropathy.
The goal is to increase your heart rate, burn calories, and build muscle throughout the body. If you have been inactive for a while, it is important to slowly introduce yourself to physical activity.
Start by walking slowly for a few minutes and then if you are comfortable and confident in your abilities, begin picking up the pace to a brisk walk for an allotted amount of time that you can handle. Increase your distance, pace, and amount of time spent exercising over time. When it comes to dealing with different types of neuropathy such as diabetic or peripheral neuropathy, being active, stretching, and staying mobile is highly important.
Peripheral neuropathy, in particular, is a nerve disease that often causes weakness, numbness, or pain, typically in the hands and feet. Many people who have diabetic peripheral neuropathy find that they have sensitivity in their legs and feet that causes debilitating pain in these areas. Taking care of your feet if you have this particular nerve disease is a crucial step to reduce chronic pain.
It’s important to take care of your feet, especially to minimize any symptoms that may develop due to a lack of maintenance. Epsom salt soaks, regular pedicures, wearing comfortable, orthopedic-approved shoes, and protecting your feet are a few avenues to start with.
Have a foot bath with chamomile or nettle leaves for at least 30 minutes to relax the foot muscles, prevent soreness, and minimize inflammation. Taking precautions at home should also be a priority when it comes to treating neuropathy since you’re potentially at greater risk for accidents in the home. Using a walker or cane to stabilize your legs in necessary will prevent falls, jamming your toes, and much more.
If you are affected with a nerve disease such as neuropathy, limiting or completely removing caffeine from your diet will be a good idea. Caffeinated beverages such as coffee or tea will stimulate the central nervous system causing the body to feel more alert and less tired, and increase sensory activity.
This stimulant also increases your blood pressure, and in turn, raises your heart rate. For those who are dealing with neuropathy, it is safest to limit caffeine consumption to avoid nerve stimulation and all of the negative side effects that come with caffeine such as jitteriness, headaches, insomnia, and dizziness. Additional caffeine works as a diuretic in the body, removing excess salt and water within the body through urine.
Learning about what foods and beverages contain caffeine, such as chocolate, soda, workout supplements, and other foods and medications will help keep track of your caffeine consumption to manage its effect on your body.
Dealing with this particular nerve disease is not easy due to a variety of symptom types. Depending on what form of neuropathy you may have, whether that is autonomic or peripheral neuropathy, taking care of the body will help prevent further inflammation of pain.
Everyone’s health and wellness depend heavily on good sleep hygiene, and those dealing with neuropathy symptoms are no exception. Painful symptoms of neuropathy are reported to feel worse at night often because the body is at rest and it is easier to be aware of the pain symptoms when you are slowing down for the day. Here are a few tips to get better sleep:
> Wrap or cover your feet in blankets. For those suffering from peripheral neuropathy, colder temperatures may stimulate your peripheral nerves and cause tingling, burning, or sharp stabbing sensations.
> Make sure your body position does not interfere with any of the active nerves that are known for pain.
> Get to bed earlier. Practice a sleep routine and prepare your body for rest by turning off screens one to two hours before bedtime. Making sure to incorporate relaxing practices such as taking a bath, reading, medications, enjoying warm tea, and engaging in calming activities can also be beneficial.
Taking proactive measures to combat the effects of nerve damage and disease by injury-proofing your household is a proactive way to manage issues that may manifest due to neuropathy. For many patients, dealing with peripheral neuropathy brings up issues with balance, falling, and injuries are risks if the legs and feet are affected.
Handrails on the stairs, in the bathroom, or wherever extra stability is necessary will help reduce problems associated with your foot or lower leg. Assist your walking with a cane or walker if necessary, and utilize non-slip mats in wet areas such as bathrooms.
Depending on the symptoms and the severity of your nerve disease, neuropathy can be treated with a variety of medications and treatments.
To treat those suffering from burning pain, many doctors recommend taking a topical approach, as this allows the effects of the medication to focus on the specific area of pain rather than being absorbed into the bloodstream. The most common forms of treatment for neuropathy include capsaicin or lidocaine in patch and gel form.
According to your doctor’s recommendations, some people with neuropathy are prescribed medications to prevent seizures, such as phenytoin, lamotrigine, gabapentin, or carbamazepine. This medication helps reduce neuropathy-related pain in the body by interfering with the overactive transmission of pain signals that the damaged nerves send out.
The underlying cause for why peripheral neuropathy takes place in the body is due to nerve toxicity. Avoiding toxic substances that create inflammation, blood pressure, cholesterol, or prediabetes to avoid further triggers to the body is an important way to combat pain.
Reducing sugar, alcohol, and tobacco is a great way to combat any extra toxins from entering the body. Focus on a lower-carb diet that will help reduce blood sugar levels and prevent spikes and help you focus on refined carbs for greater nutritional value.
Avoid all tobacco products to prevent any further illnesses such as lung cancer, mouth or esophageal cancer, and high blood pressure or heart attacks. Those with diabetic neuropathy can aggravate their condition by smoking due to the carcinogens in tobacco and the consequences of negatively impacting blood sugar levels. Alcohol is also a toxin to avoid, as it will deplete crucial nutrients the body needs such as vitamin B1.
Everyone is different, which means that everyone will need different healthcare solutions. Navigating a newfound condition can be overwhelming and daunting, but Integrated Pain Management can help. Our team is composed of dedicated medical professionals who assist patients by engaging them in a wellness program designed uniquely for them. If you or a loved one is suffering as a result of neuropathy, don’t wait any longer. Take the first step and contact Integrated Pain Management today.