Friday, April 19

The 4 Best Ways to Manage Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a term that can be used to describe more nerve diseases that affect your peripheral nervous system. This condition can be caused by many factors, but diabetes is the most common one. So, how can you manage peripheral neuropathy?

Having to live with this condition is not easy since it causes numbness and pain, which can be rather debilitating for most people. Generally, peripheral neuropathy affects the hands and legs, but this is not a rule. It can affect other body parts too.

Anyone can be affected by peripheral neuropathy; however, it might affect some people more than others. Since many age-related disorders can cause peripheral neuropathy, it is easy to see that your chance of getting this condition increases with age.

manage peripheral neuropathy
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How common is this condition?

It is easy to say that this is a common condition since it is an umbrella term that can refer to many separate conditions.

According to the statistics, if we look at it from a global perspective, 2.5% of people are affected by some form of peripheral neuropathy. Now, if we scale down and look only at those who are older than 45, we can notice that the percentage of those affected by it rises to somewhere between 5% and 7%.

How quickly does it develop?

The short answer is: It depends. Now to explain. It is pretty hard to describe how this condition develops because it depends on many factors that are very specific and subjective.

If it is caused by an injury, it might appear suddenly or after a short time, such as a few minutes or hours. But most types of peripheral neuropathy develop over months or years, sometimes even decades.

But no matter the cause, the way you manage peripheral neuropathy will be the same.

Symptoms

Let’s talk about the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy because they are numerous, and sometimes you can mistake them for other conditions. This disorder may impact one nerve, a network of connected nerves, or several nerves spread across your body. Multiple signal types may be implicated, and the symptoms also depend on the sort of nerve signals that are affected.

We can put the symptoms into three large categories: motor, sensory, and automatic.

The motor symptoms are the following: muscle atrophy, muscle weakness, paralysis, and uncontrolled muscle movements. To carry out motor signals, your nerve connections and your muscles should be healthy.

Autonomic symptoms are related to your body’s automatic functions. That includes all the functions your body takes care of while you are not aware of them, such as breathing or digestion.

Some of the automatic symptoms are: sweating too much or not enough; changes in your blood pressure; and problems with the bladder or bowel. Sometimes your vision can be affected too, which means you can get blurred vision or you may even notice changes in the pupils.

How to manage peripheral neuropathy

Since no treatment can cure this condition, the only thing that you can do is learn how to manage peripheral neuropathy. This condition can cause a lot of changes in how you perceive things with your sense of touch, and it can also cause a lot of pain.

You might feel a jabbing and sharp burning pain in your feet or hands. You might notice a lack of coordination and, at the same time, numbness and tingling. Many people can feel like they are wearing gloves or socks, but in reality, this is not happening.

As you can see, it is important to know how to manage peripheral neuropathy because this condition can really impact your life and completely change it.

1. Medicine

First of all, we need to say that one method to manage peripheral neuropathy is to take various medications that can improve the symptoms. This medication will always be prescribed by your doctor.

Anti-seizure medicines such as Gralise, Horizant, or Neurontin, whose active compound is gabapentin, or Lyrica, also known as pregabalin, are meds that are used to treat epilepsy. But in the case of peripheral neuropathy, they are very good at reducing nerve pain. Keep in mind that they can also have some side effects, such as dizziness and drowsiness.

Surprisingly, some antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants, can also improve pain. These medications obstruct the chemical pathways in the brain and spinal cord responsible for producing pain.

There is also medicine that is available without a prescription and can help you reduce the symptoms of this condition. Topical treatments are one of them. Lidocaine cream can be purchased without a prescription, and all you have to do is put it on the skin.

Also, if you need something quickly for mild pain, you can always take pain relievers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

2. Alternative medicine

Many people manage peripheral neuropathy using medicine, but they may also want to try some complementary therapies. These therapies don’t have as many studies to back them up as traditional medicine has, but the studies that have been conducted until now are quite promising.

In Europe, alpha-lipoic acid has long been used to treat peripheral neuropathy, and there is some indication that it may also be beneficial for those with diabetic neuropathy that causes pain.

Because alpha-lipoic acid can alter blood sugar levels, talk to your healthcare provider before using it. Other adverse effects may include redness on the skin and an upset stomach.

Acupuncture is another alternative method that might help manage peripheral neuropathy. Keep in mind that if you go to only one session and nothing changes, you might need multiple sessions to see the results. Also, don’t forget that acupuncture is regarded as safe when performed by a licensed professional using sterilized needles.

3. Therapies

Besides all the things we have listed above, some therapies can help you manage your peripheral nervous system.

Spinal cord stimulation uses implants to function within the body. Neurostimulators are the term for these types of devices. They can prevent pain signals from entering the brain by sending low-level electrical impulses.

Physical therapy might help you move more easily if you have balance problems or muscular weakness. A wheelchair, walker, cane, or braces for your hands or feet may also be necessary for some people, depending on the intensity of your symptoms.

manage peripheral neuropathy
Photo by Lordn from Shutterstock

4. Lifestyle changes

If you want to manage your peripheral neuropathy, some lifestyle changes are mandatory. First of all, you need to try and live a healthier life. Quit smoking and avoid alcohol as much as you can, since both can worsen your symptoms.

Your diet also plays a big part in this. Assuring that you receive the necessary vitamins and minerals requires a good diet. Try to eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein.

Don’t forget to exercise. You don’t have to become a fitness instructor, and small things can make a difference. Try to walk at least three times per week because this can make your muscles stronger and relieve your neuropathy symptoms.

Tai chi and yoga are examples of gentle exercises that may be beneficial. Consider swimming or other pool-based exercises if you suffer from painful neuropathy in your feet.

If you want something that can help you with the pain, you can try these socks: PIVOFF Neuropathy Socks Soothe Pain Relief Socks

You should also read: 4 Reasons Why People in Blue Zones Live Over 100

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