How is neuropathy treated?
There are a variety of treatments available for peripheral neuropathy. They range from traditional pills and creams to special diets and therapies that stimulate the nervous system. Antidepressants, especially tricyclics and selective serotonin-norepinephrine re-uptake inhibitors (SNRI’s), are a preferred treatment option for neuropathies. They will relieve neuropathic pain in non-depressed persons. Another class of medicines commonly prescribed for neuropathy is that of anticonvulsants. These medicines block the calcium channels on neurons to limit pain. Opioid narcotic treatments are also used for the treatment of neuropathy but are less favored because due to the potential risk of dependency. However, opioids have been the most consistently effective in reducing pain.
For some types of neuropathy, such as post-herpes neuralgia, physicians recommend treatment with a topical anesthetic such as lidocaine. Topical applications of capsaicin (the chemical that makes peppers hot) have also been used to treat neuropathic pain.
Alternative therapies for peripheral neuropathy include Botulinum Toxin Type A (better known as Botox), dietary supplements (such as alpha lipoic and benfotiamine), countless different herbal extracts, chiropractic care, massages, yoga, meditation, cognitive therapy, and acupuncture.
The final class of therapies for neuropathy is called neuromodulators. These include both implantable and non-implantable technologies (electrical and chemical) such as spinal cord stimulators, implanted spinal pumps, electrodes that stimulate the motor cortex of the brain, and another method called deep brain stimulation.
How can neuropathy be managed and prevented?
There are several ways to manage neuropathy and prevent its symptoms. Below is a small list of ways that people can reduce and manage their neuropathy symptoms:
- Good foot health is important, especially for diabetics.
- Patients should consistently check their feet for blisters, cuts, or calluses and avoid tight fitting shoes and socks.
- Doctors can recommend an exercise plan that will reduce neuropathy pain and control blood sugar levels.
- Patients should also quit smoking and eat healthful meals.
- Massages of hands and feet may also aid neuropathy management by stimulating the nerves and temporarily relieving the pain associated with neuropathy.
- Patients should avoid prolonged pressure on their knees or elbows in order to prevent new nerve damage.
- Taking a supplement that gives your body the proper vitamins and herbs to help manage your neuropathy.