Whether it’s caused by diabetes, a hereditary condition or a virus, nerve pain can be tough to live with. Fortunately, there are effective ways to treat the pain and improve your quality of life. While many treatments work well, some have more benefits that others.
Manage the Underlying Condition
Nerve pain is usually caused by another condition. Diabetes, alcoholism, shingles and autoimmune disorders are just a few of the conditions that can lead to neuropathy. Usually, the first step to managing nerve pain is figuring out a way to manage the condition behind it.
If you have diabetic neuropathy, getting your blood sugar levels down will help slow down the progress of the disorder and reduce pain. Controlling your blood sugar levels can also reduce any current symptoms you’re experiencing.
Your doctor will work with you to help you keep your blood sugar in check. Reducing your blood sugar often requires monitoring your diet and losing weight if needed. You might have to take your blood sugar reading daily to determine what you can eat or drink for the day to avoid raising your sugar levels.
Managing autoimmune disorders or getting treatment for a viral or bacterial infection that causes nerve pain also helps improve your symptoms. Your doctor can recommend the best way to get those conditions under control to relieve your nerve pain.
Medication is also often an effective way to treat nerve pain. Different medications work for different people. Some people are able to get relief by taking over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen. A doctor might prescribe a stronger pain reliever to a patient if an over-the-counter product isn’t effective.
Sometimes, medications designed for other uses helps people with nerve pain. Antidepressants help relieve nerve pain in many people. Both tricyclic antidepressants and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) have been shown to help relieve nerve pain.
The antidepressants work by getting in the way of certain chemical processes in the brain. When those processes are blocked, pain is reduced. The trade off is that many people experience a range of often unpleasant side effects from antidepressants. According to the Mayo Clinic, those side effects can include drowsiness, weight gain and dry mouth.
Anti-seizure medicines can also help dull the pain. The same chemicals that help prevent seizures or convulsions are able to block the chemicals that cause pain. Like antidepressants, anti-seizure medications often cause side effects. Those effects can include swelling, dizziness and drowsiness.
Take Vitamins and Supplements
Neuropathy is often caused by certain vitamin deficiencies. Even when a person isn’t deficient in certain vitamins, taking vitamin supplements can help reduce the pain.
Low levels of vitamin B12 can cause nerve damage. Nerve cells also need adequate levels of vitamin B1 to properly function. Low levels of vitamin B6 can interfere with the brain’s chemical processes.
If a person isn’t getting an adequate amount of B vitamins from food, supplements can help. Clinical studies of various B vitamins have shown that taking the supplements helped reduce nerve pain in patients. The product Nerve Renew contains these three B vitamins, in forms that are easily absorbed by the body.
It also contains vitamin D. Vitamin D can be a tricky vitamin to get enough of, since the natural way to get involves spending time in the sun. It’s difficult to get the full, recommended daily amount of vitamin D from your food.
Studies have shown that people with lower levels of vitamin D in their system were more likely to experience nerve pain. Those who took a vitamin D supplement on a weekly basis were able to reduce their symptoms after just two months.
The antioxidant alpha lipoic acid (ALA) has also been shown to help people suffering from nerve pain get relief. ALA is used widely in Europe and has been for years. A study showed that people taking a supplement that contained 600 mg of ALA had a 19% improvement in their nerve pain symptoms after just five weeks.
Get More Exercise
Getting more exercise can help many people ease their neuropathy symptoms. In the case of people with diabetes, regular exercise can help lower blood sugar levels. Lowering blood sugar helps control nerve damage.
Exercising also help improve the flow of blood to your extremities. The more blood there is pumping to your feet and hands, the less likely you are to feel numbness, tingling or pain. Exercise also strengthens the muscles overall, which can help fight symptoms of neuropathy that lead to muscle weakness.
Studies have shown that exercise is an effective way to relieve pain. A study from the University of Kansas Medical Center examined the effect of exercise on patients with diabetic neuropathy. Those who exercised were less likely to have their pain interfere with their overall quality of life.
There is one thing to keep mind before you lace up your sneakers and head out for a brisk walk or run. If your neuropathy has advanced so much that your feet regularly feel numb, it might be best to avoid exercises that put a lot of weight on your feet. Swimming or cycling might be better options to help reduce pain and improve your symptoms. It’s always a good idea to speak with your doctor before you start any new exercise routine.
Apply a Topical Cream
Some topical creams or patches can help minimize nerve pain. Creams that contain capsaicin, the ingredient that makes hot peppers spicy, can often ease pain. Often, capsaicin creams make pain a bit worse before they make it better. Some people find the initial burning too intense while others find that the pain relief makes the initial discomfort worth it.
A topical product containing lidocaine can also effectively reduce pain. Lidocaine works by numbing the area, so pain signals are blocked. It’s a temporary solution at best, but it works for some people.
The most effective nerve pain treatment is one that provides relief, without disrupting your day to day life too much. Many people have to go through a number of treatments before they find the one that works best for them.