Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include burning pain, altered sensations, weakness, numbness, and tingling, most frequently in the hands and feet. Diabetes, shingles, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, vitamin deficiencies, and certain cancer treatment drugs are among some of the most common causes of this nerve disorder. Although the chronic pain typically associated with peripheral neuropathies can be difficult to control, there are exercise programs and other self-help remedies, which can help to alleviate the pain.
Exercise every day. Walk, swim or bike your way to better health. Studies show that pilates, tai chi, and yoga are low impact exercises that can help improve the condition, especially in older individuals. Regular exercise such as walking forces a new blood supply to your lower extremities.
Eat a well balanced diet. Include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein in your daily diet. Apples, berries, and dark green vegetables are high in the antioxidants needed to help relieve inflammation. Broccoli, peas, cauliflower, lentils, beans, and beets should be included in your diet. Eat fish and lean red meats, which are high in protein, but low in fat. Drink plenty of low-fat milk, too. Talk to your doctor about taking vitamin supplements, particularly vitamin B12.
Limit how much alcohol you consume. Heavy drinking (4 or more drinks each day) over time can lead to nerve damage. Oftentimes alcoholics also suffer nutritional deficiencies, which can cause neuropathy as well.
Quit smoking. Smoking constricts the blood vessels that supply nutrients to the peripheral nerves, and therefore, can worsen neuropathic symptoms. Since smoking affects circulation, it increases the risk for foot problems, especially for diabetics.
Massage your hands and feet. This will help to stimulate nerves and increase circulation to those areas, giving you some temporary relief from pain. Yoga actually is another type of self-massage, which helps to decrease pain by stimulating pressure receptors in the brain.
Maintain a healthy weight. If you are diabetic, plan your meals carefully, and monitor your blood glucose levels.
Research shows that smokers are at higher risk for pain.
Because nerve fibers are affected, other symptoms of neuropathy may include loss of muscle tone and lack of dexterity.