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. Hence, 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. Additionally, research indicates about 25-30% will be affected by peripheral neuropathy. Moreover, 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). 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.
Although the symptoms vary from patient to patient and also depend on the cause, the common symptoms include tingling, numbness, stabbing or electric pain and muscle twitching. Not all types of neuropathies can be cured, but a few lifestyle changes can help you manage pain and prevent any further damage. Here are some lifestyle changes to manage your symptoms and reduce pain you may be experiencing.
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.
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 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.
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. Alcohol can be toxic to our body and cause a tingling situation in our body. Hence it is advised to quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake.
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 may make it easier to manage peripheral neuropathy.
Physical care and therapy can help peripheral 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 in controlling the symptoms and the pain caused by peripheral 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, consult your physician. Peripheral neuropathy can be frustrating and difficult to live with. Check with your doctor to find the best way to help you relieve your pain.
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- “Epidemiology of Peripheral Neuropathy and Lower Extremity Disease in Diabetes”. NCBI US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
- “Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet”. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
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- “The Aftereffects of Alcoholism: Alcoholic Neuropathy”. Healthline
- “Exercises for Peripheral Neuropathy – Physical Therapy”. The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy