Peripheral Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS)

Transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS) doesn’t work for everyone, but many people like it because it’s a drug-free therapy. During TENS, electrodes placed on the skin send small amounts of electricity into the skin. The goal of this treatment is to disrupt nerves from transmitting pain signals to the brain.

Ergonomic casts or splints

Ergonomic casts or splints can help you if your neuropathy affects your:

  • feet
  • legs
  • arms
  • hands

These casts provide support for the part of your body that’s uncomfortable. This can relieve pain. For example, a cast or splint that holds your wrists in a proper position while you sleep can relieve the discomfort of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Self-care

In addition to OTC pain relievers, many people have found relief for peripheral neuropathy through:

  • chiropractic care
  • acupuncture
  • massage
  • meditation
  • yoga

Moderate, regular exercise can also help lessen discomfort.

If you drink alcohol or smoke, consider cutting back or stopping. Both alcohol and tobacco aggravate nerve pain and can cause nerve damage when used for long periods.

Take precautions at home

If you have peripheral neuropathy, you’re potentially at greater risk for accidents in the home. You can do the following to improve your safety:

  • Always wear shoes to protect your feet.
  • Keep your floor clear of things that you could trip on.
  • Check the temperature of your bath or dishwater with your elbow, not your hand or foot.
  • Install handrails in your bathtub or shower.
  • Use bath mats that can prevent slipping.
  • Don’t stay in one position for too long. Get up and move around a couple of times each hour. This is especially important for those whose work involves sitting for long periods at a desk.

What is the long-term outlook?

If your neuropathy is due to an underlying, treatable condition, you may be able to stop your peripheral neuropathy by treating the larger problem. However, if this isn’t the case for you, you can successfully manage the symptoms of your peripheral neuropathy. Speak with your doctor to determine the best medical treatment for you, and explore alternative and self-care options that can supplement your medical care.

How can I prevent peripheral neuropathy?

Even if you have a family history of this disorder, you can help prevent its onset by doing the following:

  • avoiding alcohol or drinking it only in moderation
  • avoiding smoking or quitting smoking if you smoke
  • eating a healthy diet
  • getting regular, moderate exercise

You can lower your risk of peripheral neuropathy by:

  • knowing what toxins you might be exposed to at work or school
  • protecting your feet during sports, especially those that involve kicking
  • never inhaling toxins like glue to get high

If you have diabetes, take special care of your feet. Wash and inspect your feet daily, and keep the skin moist with lotion.