Do you experience frequent pain in your hands and feet? Do you often feel an uncomfortable pins-and-needles sensation in your arms and legs? These may be symptoms of a common medical condition called peripheral neuropathy.
What is peripheral neuropathy, what causes it, and how is it treated?
Diagnosing Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects the body's peripheral nervous system (PNS), which is made up of nerves that connect the spinal cord to the arms, legs, hands, and feet.
When these nerves become damaged due to injury or disease, numbness, burning, tingling, and pain can occur. These symptoms are typically chronic, meaning that they persist and may even worsen over a long period of time.
Neuropathy is very common – it's estimated to affect more than 20 million people in the United States alone. Some of the most common causes of this condition are:
- Traumatic injury
- Vitamin deficiency
- Excessive alcohol consumption
To diagnose neuropathy, your doctor will look at your medical history and conduct a physical exam. The earlier this condition is diagnosed, the more effective treatment will be.
Managing Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
Unfortunately, there is still no cure for this painful condition. However, there are plenty of effective ways to manage your symptoms, keep your pain under control, and prevent further nerve damage.
The type of treatment that works best for you will depend on the cause of your nerve damage and the severity of your symptoms. The following six methods to manage and treat it are known to be the most effective overall.
Because peripheral neuropathy is commonly caused by a vitamin deficiency, taking vitamin-packed supplements can help you effectively reduce painful symptoms.
Supplements for peripheral neuropathy, like Nerve Renew, contain important B vitamins and other natural ingredients that help to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. Studies have shown that these types of supplements may also be able to promote healthy nerve regeneration.
- Topical Capsaicin Creams
Capsaicin, the compound that puts the heat in hot peppers, has been shown to effectively treat symptoms of neuropathy. In the form of a topical cream, capsaicin provides localized pain relief to hands and feet affected by nerve damage.
While capsaicin creams rarely have adverse side effects, allergic reactions have been reported. To prevent these types of reactions, always talk with your doctor before starting any new treatment plan.
There's a good reason doctors recommend exercise as a treatment for almost everything. Living an active lifestyle helps to reduce your blood sugar, which can reduce the rate of nerve damage in your hands and feet. This is particularly effective in those whose neuropathy is caused by diabetes.
Exercise has also been proven to improve blood flow and relieve stress, both of which have been proven to reduce pain.
- Prescription Medications
Once you've been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, your doctor is likely to recommend prescription medications to treat your symptoms. The most common medications are anti-inflammatory drugs, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and painkillers.
While prescription medications are effective for most people, they are also more likely to produce unwanted side effects than natural treatment methods like supplements and dietary changes.
- Physical Therapy
In cases where peripheral neuropathy has caused significant muscle weakness, doctors will often recommend physical therapy as a way to promote nerve health. By stimulating damaged nerves in the hands and feet, the goal is to increase muscle strength and promote regrowth.
Who would have thought that an effective way to manage a pins and needles sensation would be actual pins and needles? Applied at precise points on the body, acupuncture needles stimulate the nervous system to release pain-reducing chemicals. Acupuncture can be used alongside medications to increase their effectiveness or on its own as a natural treatment.
We may not able to cure peripheral neuropathy yet, but you can significantly improve your quality of life using the above methods of symptom management.