What is peripheral neuropathy?
Your peripheral nerves send messages from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body. When those nerves are damaged, these messages are interrupted and affect how your body responds to pain, temperature, and other reflexes.
It’s often a result of damage to the peripheral nerves. A few things can cause this damage:
The effects of peripheral neuropathy can develop suddenly or can spread slowly over time.
Treatment methods vary depending on the cause of the condition. Many natural and traditional methods focus on alleviating pain symptoms.
Your motor nerves send messages from the brain to the muscles so you can control your movements.
If your motor nerves are affected, you may experience symptoms including:
- muscle weakness or atrophy
- difficulty moving your arms or legs
- muscle spasms or uncontrolled twitching
- decreased reflexes
Sensory nerves send messages from other body parts to the brain and trigger your senses. When you experience a cold sensation or touch something sharp, you are using your sensory nerves.
If your peripheral neuropathy affects your sensory nerves, you may experience:
- tingling or numbness
- sensitivity to touch
- decreased sensation
- inability to feel temperature changes or pain with hot and cold
- loss of reflexes and coordination
If your autonomic nerves are affected from peripheral neuropathy, you may experience symptoms including:
Treatment for peripheral neuropathy depends on the cause. Some common treatments involve physical therapy, surgery, and injections for increased nerve pressure. Other treatments focus on reducing pain and discomfort with over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen or aspirin.
There are also a number of natural treatments to help reduce symptoms and peripheral neuropathy.
While you can get vitamin B from your meals, your doctor may also recommend taking a supplement. Stick to the recommended dose to prevent toxicity and worsening symptoms.
Vitamin D can also help prevent nerve pain. Your skin typically produces vitamin D in response to sunlight. A deficiency can cause neuropathy pain. Taking a supplement can help reduce the symptoms of neuropathy.
2. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper contains capsaicin, an ingredient in hot peppers that makes them spicy. Capsaicin has been used in topical creams for its pain relief properties. It decreases the intensity of pain signals sent through the body.
Topical capsaicin ointments can also be used on the body. Although it may initially burn, continued use will gradually reduce neuropathy sensations.
Be sure to discuss this treatment method with your doctor before using it to prevent adverse symptoms.
3. Quit smoking
Smoking affects your blood circulation. The blood vessels narrow and less oxygenated blood can get through. Without proper blood circulation, you may experience increased numbness and pain from your peripheral neuropathy. Eliminating smoking habits can help to improve your symptoms. Let this motivate you to make positive changes.
4. Warm bath
Taking a warm bath can be soothing and can also alleviate pain symptoms from neuropathy. Warm water increases blood circulation throughout the body, decreasing pain symptoms from numbness.
If your sensory nerves are affected from peripheral neuropathy and you’re not as sensitive to temperature, be careful not to make your bath water too hot.
Regular exercise can help to combat pain and improve your overall health. Being active can reduce your blood sugar, which, in turn, can reduce or slow down nerve damage. Exercise also increases blood flow to your arms and legs and reduces stress. These are all factors that help to reduce discomfort and pain.
6. Essential oils
Dilute essential oils (a few drops) in 1 ounce of a carrier oil such as olive oil. Applying these diluted oils to the affected area can reduce stinging and tingling pains from peripheral neuropathy.
Meditation techniques can help people struggling with neuropathy symptoms live through their pain. It can help to lower stress, improve your coping skills, and decrease your pain intensity. Taking a mind-body approach is a noninvasive technique that provides you with more control over your condition.
Acupuncture promotes natural healing by stimulating the body’s pressure points. This technique triggers the nervous system to release chemicals that can change the pain experience or threshold. Acupuncture helps to provide an energy balance to the body that can affect your emotional well-being.
Prevention works so much better than treatment. Keeping your blood sugars within the normal range will help prevent your neuropathy from worsening. If your neuropathy is related to alcohol intake, stop drinking now to prevent the condition from getting worse.
Natural remedies have some success in alleviating the pain symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. However, be sure to consult with your doctor prior to participating in a new treatment method. If you begin experiencing irregular symptoms from natural remedies, or if your conditions worsen, visit a doctor immediately.