The body’s nervous system is made up of two parts: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. Peripheral Neuropathy (PN) occurs when nerves are damaged or destroyed and can’t send messages from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles, skin, and other parts of the body. Peripheral nerves go from the brain and spinal cord to the arms, legs, hands, and feet. When damage occurs, these small fiber nerve endings can cause numbness and pain. Tingling, burning, and cramping can also occur, as well as loss of sensation. PN is often associated with diabetes and high blood sugar and can also result from injury, inflammation, and poor circulation. PN can cause frustration, pain, anxiety, poor sleep, poor balance, and compromised quality of life.
So what can be done to treat neuropathy? According to the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy, the standard form of care in the U.S. includes medical and holistic doctors working together with other licensed health professionals who provide support services. These may include registered nurses, anesthesiologists, physical and occupational therapists, and many others. Medical professionals determine diagnosis and treatment based on their knowledge and experience. This may include some medications, supplementation, and treatment.
Many people engage in complementary and alternative medicines. This may be herbal medicines, vitamins, minerals, and dietary supplements. Healthy nutrition and exercise can definitely help to relieve symptoms and even arrest further progression of neuropathy. Electro-stimulation has also become a growing and beneficial treatment.
Movement equals circulation. Circulation creates increased blood flow, nourishing the fragile nerve endings. Daily walking is a great way to increase circulation and balance. Tennis, pickleball, dancing, and any exercise are excellent for treatment of neuropathy.
Here are a few tips to use at home. While relaxing with feet elevated, circle the ankles in both directions. Pump the foot up and down, side to side to engage increased circulation.
Twinkle the toes! Play piano in the air with the toes and fingers. Spread and squeeze every chance you get! While sitting, lift the heels up and down. Motion increases nourishing blood flow! Rolling a water bottle, cold or cool, back and forth on the floor under the foot can help relieve symptoms.
Other therapies may include Mind Body Medicine, using practices that focus on the interactions among the brain, mind, and body behaviors to effect physical functioning and promote health.
Acupuncture, biofeedback, and Tai Chi are often recommended.
Reflexology, massage and essential oil aromatherapy can play an important role in neuropathy relief.
In reflexology, the stimulation of nerve endings, appropriately applied to reflex points on the bottoms of the feet and palms of hands, sends signals to the brain, nerve bundles, and spinal cord to balance, heal, and stimulate flow of energy throughout the body.
The art and science of reflexology is based on the premise that reflex points in hands and feet correspond to all body parts. Purposeful pressure at each reflex point causes physiological changes in the body, enhancing circulation, promoting balance, healing, and a state of wellbeing.