If you have nerve pain—also called neuropathy—you know this unpredictable condition can be a challenge to treat. Shooting pain, numbness, tingling, and a hypersensitivity to light touch are just a few of the symptoms.
You’re probably seeing at least one doctor to keep the symptoms under control, but don’t underestimate what you can do to ease your pain.
Be Proactive About Your Health
You may be tired of visiting doctors, but don’t let that get in the way of staying as healthy as possible. If problems develop, face them head-on:
- Treat injuries quickly. What looks like a minor injury can turn into something major if you hold off on getting treatment. A minor foot injury, for instance, could cause permanent damage, limiting your mobility.
- Don’t overlook your mental health. Living with unpredictable chronic pain can cause isolation from friends and loved ones, loss of a satisfying job, and other limitations. Depression may also make it more difficult to take good care of yourself. Depression is a serious but treatable issue, so ask your doctor for help.
- Treat any other conditions you have. Neuropathy can be difficult to treat, but another problem that’s bothering you—urinary and sleep issues are some common problems that accompany neuropathy—may respond well to a medication or non-medication technique. Resolving these issues can help you feel better.
Take a Close Look at Your Lifestyle
Some simple—and not-so-simple—changes could make a major difference in your daily life:
- Join a support group to share tips and experiences with others who understand what you’re going through. If your pain makes meeting in person difficult, consider an online forum, such as those on Spine-health.com. Our forums are available 24 hours a day.
- Physical therapy can help you get the exercise you know is good for you, while minimizing the pain. It can be reassuring to be given exercises that are tailored to your individual strengths and weaknesses. If you have diabetic neuropathy, exercise has the added benefit of lowering blood sugar levels.
- Stopping smoking is another way to help your nerves. Smoking causes the blood vessels to constrict, limiting the nutrients reaching the peripheral nerves. The nicotine that is in tobacco products delivers another blow—it makes pain feel worse. Your doctor can help you choose a smoking cessation plan that will work best for you.
- Abusing alcohol can damage nerves, and the damage can be permanent. If you have alcoholic neuropathy, quitting drinking may ease your symptoms and keep nerve damage from getting worse. Even if your neuropathy is not related to drinking, drinking alcohol may add to your pain.
Whether you’ve had neuropathy for years or have just been diagnosed, it’s always a good time to take stock and see what you can do to make your life better.