Nerve pain can be very difficult do describe, diagnose, treat, and live with. There is a condition called neuropathy that involves damage to the peripheral nerves and commonly affects the legs, arms, fingers, and toes. Here is some information about what neuropathy is and how you can address the nerve pain you feel through natural means.
There are two main parts of the nervous system: the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. The peripheral nervous system runs throughout all parts of the body except for the brain and spinal cord. It is the system that transmits messages between the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. When those nerves become damaged or disrupted, peripheral neuropathy (or simply, neuropathy) can result.
Neuropathy can be a genetic condition or acquired over time. Everything from systemic diseases to physical trauma, infections, and autoimmune disorders can cause neuropathy. But the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. This is because high blood glucose levels have a tendency to damage nerves. Other causes of neuropathy include kidney disorders, exposure to lead and mercury, hyperthyroidism, vitamin deficiencies, alcohol abuse, chronic inflammation, and prolonged use of antibiotics and antiviral drugs.
People who have been diagnosed with neuropathy often describe their symptoms and sensations as painful, weakness, numbness, tingling, and burning feelings. However, nerve pain seems to feel a bit differently for everyone. Some nerve pain comes and goes, while other pains are constant or get worse as the years go by. Neuropathy is most common among people over the age of 55.
Conventional Neuropathy Treatment
Tricyclic antidepressants are often prescribed for neuropathy patients because they target the nervous system to reduce pain. However, most types of antidepressant medications come with their fair share of side effects as well. These may include dizziness, drowsiness, and urinary tract changes. Some doctors also prescribe anti-seizure medications for neuropathy. In severe cases where a tumor or ruptured disc is involved, surgery may be recommended.
Natural Strategies for Nerve Pain
But to avoid some of these side effects and painful procedures, many people with nerve pain turn to natural approaches first. For example, B vitamins are excellent for maintaining and restoring normal nerve function. An easy approach to this is to take a daily B-complex vitamin supplement. An antioxidant known as alpha-lipoc acid may be helpful for neuropathy patients as well when taken daily.
Many people with neuropathy swear by acupuncture treatments and reflexology to ease their pain. For diabetics, it is essential to keep blood sugar under control to prevent nerve pain. Exercise is a natural painkiller because it promotes blood flow and releases endorphins in the brain.
If nerve pain persists in the feet, it may help to soak your feet in warm water to restore blood flow, invest in supportive shoes, and see a podiatrist regularly. Since alcohol can be toxic to nerves and make neuropathy worse, it is advised to skip cocktail hour for better nerve health.
In terms of diet, foods and supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium support nervous system functioning. Other natural remedies to try for nerve pain include capsaicin cream, lidocaine anesthetic patches, massage with geranium oil, and guided meditation.