Do you sometimes get a tingly sensation in your hands or feet that feel like pins and needles? Perhaps your fingers and toes start to go numb and feel like they are burning. If so then you may be experiencing something called neuropathy, which can be very uncomfortable and is not something to be taken lightly. Having this condition can interfere with your quality of life, mobility, and sleep with some pretty debilitating symptoms.
In this article, we breakdown what neuropathy is, as well as some lifestyle hacks for gaining better control of its symptoms. If neuropathy is something you or a loved one may be dealing with, then read on to learn more about how you can address it and take charge of your health.
What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy, also known as peripheral neuropathy impacts the nerves of the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system is responsible for connecting the central nervous system which houses the brain and the spinal cord and connects it to the rest of the body.
Neuropathy involves damage to the nerve cells which gets in the way of the communication between the neurons and the brain.
An important thing to keep in mind with neuropathy is that it can affect just one type of nerve, or they can all be affected. There are a total of three types of nerves within the peripheral nervous system.
The nerves that can be affected include:
- Sensory Nerves: Carry messages from your senses to your brain
- Motor Nerves: Carry messages from your brain to your muscles
- Autonomic Nerves: Control things like breathing, blood pressure, and digestion
Neuropathy Risk Factors
Now that we know what neuropathy is, let’s take a closer look at the risk factors. Here are some of the most common reasons people develop neuropathy:
- Diabetes (the leading cause of neuropathy)
- Autoimmune disease
- Exposure to heavy metals
- Excessive alcohol intake
- B vitamin imbalances
- Hereditary factors
When it comes to identifying neuropathy, there are some classic symptoms you will want to be on the lookout for. These symptoms include:
- Numbness in the hands & feet
- Tingling sensation
- Loss of reflexes and or coordination
- Burning sensation
- Muscle weakness
- Difficulty walking
- Muscle cramps & spasms
- Dizziness when standing up
- Issues with digestion
- Nausea or vomiting
Keep in mind that symptoms of neuropathy are going to vary depending on which nerves are affected. If you are dealing with sensory neuropathy, then chances are you may experience symptoms like tingling or numbness. If you are dealing with motor neuropathy, symptoms generally include things like muscle weakness, cramping, or stiffness. Lastly, autonomic neuropathy generally causes symptoms related to blood pressure, heart rate, and/or digestive issues. If you experience any of these symptoms, you will want to bring it to the attention of your healthcare provider, who can run tests to determine if neuropathy is what’s causing your symptoms.
Natural Neuropathy Hacks
If you have been diagnosed with neuropathy, you may feel discouraged about the fact that there is no cure for this condition. However, it’s important to know that there are plenty of ways to better manage your symptoms to help improve the quality of your life.
Here’s a few top natural neuropathy hacks that you can incorporate into your life to help gain better control of your symptoms.
#1 Move Your Body
Exercise is so important for every aspect of health, but if you are suffering from neuropathy, and especially motor neuropathy, moving your body, and improving muscle strength may be able to help reduce some of your symptoms. Keep in mind that you don’t want to overdo it, as over-exertion can make you feel worse. Instead, focus on exercises that will make you feel good, improve your strength, and give you a boost of energy. Yoga, Pilates, walking, or cycling are all excellent options. Remember to always listen to your body and go at a pace that feels good for you.
#2 Boost Your Nutrition
Diet is another thing that plays a role in overall health, and if you suffer from neuropathy, you are going to want to pay even more attention to the foods you add to your diet. Not only will adopting an anti-inflammatory diet help reduce inflammation, and possibly even help alleviate pain, but it’s also very important in helping get enough foods rich in vitamin B. Since imbalances in vitamins and minerals (especially B vitamins), can lead to neuropathy, focus on getting plenty of foods rich in these vitamins into your diet to support total wellness. Some great options include: pasture-raised eggs, beans, lentils, dark leafy greens, sunflower seeds, almonds, and wild-caught fish. Curcumin, the active compound found inside turmeric, is another great nutrient to add to your diet. It's an agent that helps provide defense against free radicals in the body and support joint and muscle health.
#3 Reach out to Professionals
If you need some help with targeting specific areas of the body with exercises to help reduce stiffness or pain related to neuropathy, many people find great success working with occupational or physical therapists. They can help guide you and show you specific exercises that will work on range of motion and strength to help improve symptoms.
Many people who experience diabetic neuropathy have reported success with acupuncture when it comes to relieving pain. The science on how acupuncture works is still controversial, but it's believed to have a neurological impact that can reduce pain. The great thing about this natural treatment option is that it doesn’t come with the risk of side effects like many medications do. If you find acupuncture does help you, then it is something you will likely have to keep up on a regular basis for continued results.
The Bottom Line
Neuropathy, left unchecked, can seriously interfere with your overall quality of life. It can also be a very frustrating condition to get under control, with pain that can get in the way of day-to-day tasks. While there is no cure for it, managing symptoms can be done with these lifestyle and nutritional hacks.