Five Lifestyle Changes to Relieve Symptoms for Peripheral Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy affects around 50% of adults with diabetes during their lifetime. Pain and symptom management remains an important part of care management. Here are some lifestyle changes that you can implement to relieve peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that involves damage to the peripheral nervous system. Our peripheral nerves carry signals to and from our central nervous system. Malfunctioning of these nerves causes disruption and affects how the body reacts to reflexes and other stimuli, such as pain and temperature. There are more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathies and the symptoms vary from patient to patient. Research indicates about 25-30% will be affected by peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy is present in 60-70% diabetic patients, which is the largest cause for neuropathy in the US, 30-40% cancer patients that undergo chemotherapy and 30% of people who have human immunodeficiency syndrome (HIV). Around 8% of people above the age of 65 also suffer from some degree of neuropathy. 

Although the symptoms vary from patient to patient and also depend on the cause, the common symptoms include tingling, numbness, stabbing or electric pain, muscle twitching and so on. Treatments begin with identifying the underlying cause. Not all types of neuropathies can be cured, but changing your lifestyle can help you manage pain and prevent any further damage. Here, according to the sources listed below, are five different changes you can implement in your lifestyle to manage your symptoms and reduce any kind of pain you might be experiencing:

  1. Physical Activity
    Regular exercise can not only help one stay active but also improve mood, combat pain, and increase overall health. It helps increase the blood flow to our extremities, which reduces stress and nerve damage. It also helps reduce the pressure on the peripheral blood vessels and tones muscles that helps keep symptoms in control.
  2. Meals
    Nutritious meals, along with the appropriate amount of vitamins, contribute to a healthier life among individuals. Since diabetes is one of the major causes of peripheral neuropathy, keeping one’s blood sugar level under control is a key solution to ease the symptoms of neuropathy. A fiber-rich diet helps control the spike in our blood sugar. Food rich in antioxidants, such as fruits and nuts, help combat inflammation. Saturated, processed foods and trans fats should preferably be avoided. Along with a healthy diet, vitamins B and D may also help ease neuropathy symptoms. Vitamin B is essential in nerve health and vitamin D helps prevent nerve pain. Hot peppers contain an ingredient known as capsaicin which is used in some tropical creams on account of its pain relieving property. They can also be included in one’s diet to relieve neuropathy pain.
  3. Smoking and Alcohol Usage
    Smoking is a big risk factor for individuals suffering from neuropathy as it narrows and can damage blood vessels and, in turn, affect circulation. Restricted blood circulations can alleviate the pain and worsen the damage. Hence it is always advised to quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake. Some cases of neuropathy are also caused by excessive intake of alcohol, known as alcoholic neuropathy. Alcohol can be toxic to our body and cause a tingling situation in our body. Hence adopting healthy habits such as quitting smoking and alcohol can help the symptoms to be in check.
  4. Meditation
    Relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga can help individuals manage their pain in a better way. Deep breathing, exercising and progressive relaxation can help relax the body and mind. It provides individuals with non-invasive methods to reduce stress and decrease pain symptoms. It may also make one feel more in control of the situation, which makes it easier to combat this disorder.
  5. Physical Care
    Physical care and therapy can help neuropathy patients improve their strength and mobility. Progressive stretching helps improve range of motion and improve functioning. Using weights and isometric exercise help improve strength while balance training prevents falls. This can help improve overall balance and posture and keep and combat neuropathy symptoms.

Natural remedies along with some lifestyle changes can help a lot in controlling the symptoms and the pain caused by neuropathy. Keeping your blood sugar in check is one of the most important ways to combat this disorder along with proper nutrition. Before making any changes to your diet and exercise routine or in case you experience irregular symptoms, be sure to be sure to consult your physician. Peripheral neuropathy can be frustrating and difficult to live with. However, consult with your healthcare provider and physician to find the best way to help you relieve your pain. Little steps can go a long way.

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6755905/#:~:text=The%20prevalence%20of%20peripheral%20neuropathy,asymptomatic%20to%20painful%20neuropathic%20symptoms
https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Peripheral-Neuropathy-Fact-Sheet
https://www.healthline.com/health/peripheral-neuropathy
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14737-neuropathy
https://www.healthline.com/health/alcoholism/alcoholic-neuropathy#_noHeaderPrefixedContent
https://www.foundationforpn.org/living-well/lifestyle/exercise-and-physical-therapy/