If you’ve been told you have neuropathy, you may not initially know what this means.
For some, this can be a moment of confusion. Others may go into “fix -it” mode. For others, this diagnosis can sound absolutely terrifying. First, let me assure you that you are not alone. An estimated 50 million Americans suffer some form of chronic pain or neuropathy. What lies ahead is a new chapter and an opportunity to improve your lifestyle.
In honor of this festive season, we’ve gathered the top five questions patients either ask or are afraid to ask, and have answered them here.
1. What is neuropathy and what caused it?
Neuropathy, or neuropathic pain, is a result of damaged nerves. It can be a single nerve such as mononeuropathy or a group of nerves within the body that causes tingling, burning or shooting pain symptoms. There is no one cause, but common ones include arthritis, chemotherapy, diabetes, injuries, sickle cell disease, multiple sclerosis, herniated disks and Parkinson’s.
2. Why did my physician say there is no medication or treatment options for neuropathy?
Let me start with saying that neuropathy as a diagnosis is still relatively new, and there is a lot of evidence that treatments such as acupuncture, laser, electrical stem and others can help. However, our understanding of neuropathy is evolving as are treatment options, so at this time the official position by most physicians dealing with neuropathy is there is no specific or curable treatment. Rather, it’s important to learn more about your neuropathy, the causes and develop a treatment that works best for you.
3. What are the successful treatment options for neuropathy?
There are plenty of options out there that are trying to address neuropathy and have shown efficacy in managing or even relieving the pain symptoms. Some of these include homeopathic remedies such as creams, lotions, supplements and vitamins. Acupuncture and physical therapy are also alternative treatments that provide relief for some people with neuropathy.
Our own Intraneural Facilitation or INF™, has proven to be an effective way to restore blood flow to damaged nerves and eliminate the pain our patients' experience. At our center, we take a whole-person care approach. We use INF in conjunction with food sensitivity analysis, exercises, physical therapy and some pain management medications to help alleviate our patients debilitating pain and get them back to living a healthy and active life.
It’s vital to communicate your pain experience with your physician and discuss all these options to find the ones that is best for you.
4. I hurt a lot, should I be exercising with my pain?
Exercising is absolutely essential to help relieve nerve pain. Staying active can be as simple as taking the stairs over the elevator to participating in outdoor activities such as hiking and gardening, or enjoying other low-impact aerobic exercises. At our center, we encourage patients to continue the exercises they have learned with us after completing their treatment and provide a home exercise kit.
5. What is my long-term plan / how do I live with this?
There is an ownership component to this that first starts with empowering yourself. I encourage you to learn as much about neuropathy as possible. Our blog is a great place to start, offering a wealth of resources and tips for the various neuropathies. Take time to do outside research on all of the treatments available to you. Discuss your neuropathy and treatment options with family, friends and your physician to build an encouraging support system. The more you learn, the more empowered you are to make the choices that are best for you. Lastly, consider your lifestyle, including diet, exercise, hydration, stress management and sleep — all of these impact your neuropathy and, with change, can decrease your pain symptoms.
I know it can sound like a lot! Just remember you’re not alone in your journey to end your nerve pain. It’s a team effort when you have neuropathy, and it will take you, your loved ones, your physician and specialist working together to take the steps needed to live a pain-free life.