Neuropathic pain (also known as nerve pain) is no joke. Sometimes nerve pain can be associated with a condition such as diabetes or shingles, other times it comes as a result of an injury, and sometimes it seems to occur for no reason. Symptoms vary by individual — pain can come in the form of stabbing, prickling, tingling, burning, and numbness. A number of everyday activities, such as walking or laying down, can be painful for individuals with nerve pain.
If you’re among those suffering from neuropathic pain, you should talk to your doctor first to determine the underlying cause behind the pain and to figure out the best treatment plan to control the pain. There are a number of treatment methods available, but the best method(s) will vary depending upon individual needs. Below are seven common methods that can be used to relieve the pain.
OTC painkillers can allow you to get some relief while you’re waiting to talk to a doctor or while you’re exploring other treatment options. Over-the-counter medicines, creams, and ointments can be used to relieve mild pain. An oral medicine, such as ibuprofen, can be taken on occasion (never more than 10 days in a row). OTC oral painkillers aren’t the best option for those with severe pain or chronic pain, because it’s easy to become dependent on them. Topical medicines are generally safer for long term use than oral painkillers are. Topical ointments and creams can be applied directly to the area causing pain. They reduce pain and inflammation while also numbing the area.
For those with chronic nerve pain, a doctor can prescribe a prescription medication to help manage the pain. The drug prescribed depends on the cause and severity of the pain, as well as several other factors. Common prescription drugs include anticonvulsants, antidepressants, and opioids. Prescription drugs can be costly, highly addictive, and have a number of potential side effects. If using a prescription drug, you’ll want to have regular conversations with your doctor to ensure the drug is working as intended.
Natural Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs
OTC painkillers and prescription drugs help control pain, but they don’t always treat the real cause. There are several naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, and herbs that not only alleviate pain but also improve nerve function. There’s even the possibility of natural supplements regenerating damaged nerves and nerve cells. This means that there’s a chance a natural supplement could resolve your neuropathy symptoms.
If you’re considering a natural supplement, it’s always best to talk to your doctor before beginning the supplement. There are a number of supplements out there and the one(s) that are best for you will depend on your needs. To get an idea of supplements you can ask your doctor about, check out this comprehensive list on Neuropathy Help. This list has thirty-four of the best natural supplements that can be used to fight nerve pain!
Acupuncture can be used to reduce pain and improve symptoms for those with neuropathy. Acupuncture is a naturopathic medical treatment where needles are inserted into the body’s pressure points to stimulate the nervous system and to release endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. Acupuncture also helps stimulate blood flow which can help restore nerve damage.
If you decide to use acupuncture as a treatment method, use a licensed professional and be honest about what is causing your neuropathy. While acupuncture is a completely safe method of pain relief, research is still being completed to determine how effective it is as a treatment method for neuropathy.
Clinical Massage Therapy
Massage therapy is a natural way to relieve symptoms and improve health. Massage therapy uses a number of different techniques that help relax the nervous system through a series of palpitations to the soft tissues of the body. During massages, heart rates and breathing rates slow down, and blood pressure and stress rates decrease. Tight muscles that could be impacting nerves begin to relax. All of these things combined help to lessen pain and increase endorphins.
Clinical massage therapy is typically paired with another treatment method, such as taking a prescription drug or using a natural supplement. It’s not meant to replace a standard treatment method, but it does help provide additional benefits.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
There are still a number of clinical trials being done to prove TENS as a reliable treatment method, but it has been proven as a safe method to provide short term relief. TENS is a method of pain relief that uses a mild electrical current. Electrodes (sticky pads) that are connected to a small battery-operated device are attached to the skin. The machine is then turned on, and a series of small electrical impulses are delivered to the body. These impulses reduce pain signals and stimulate endorphins, which helps relieve pain and relax muscles.
You can buy your own TENS machine. These machines are lightweight and easy to carry throughout the day. These machines are not recommended for those who have electrical or metal implants, those who are pregnant, those who have epilepsy, or those with a heart condition.
Essential oils and aromatherapy are other natural methods that can help relieve neuropathic pain. Ginger, chamomile, St. John’s wort, lavender, holy basil, and peppermint are all common oils that help provide relief from nerve pain.
Oils can either be inhaled or used in massages. To inhale an essential oil, add a few drops of the oil into a diffuser, into bath water, or onto a pillow. To use in a massage, put a few drops of the essential oil into almond or olive oil, and then massage the mixture onto the affected area.
Nerve pain can be disrupting and life-changing and rarely goes away if left untreated. There are a number of different methods that can be used to help make nerve pain more manageable. If you’re considering trying one of the methods above, talk to your doctor to make sure the method is safe for you.