Neuropathy can impact your entire life, making it hard to do the things you love. Although you may experience chronic pain with neuropathy, there is hope for living a good life. You can cope with neuropathy for first managing your daily life. It's also important that you take care of your body and stay active, which help manage your symptoms. On days when you're experiencing pain, you have many options for seeking relief.
Method 1 of 4:Managing Your Daily Life with Neuropathy
1Rank your priorities, identifying what you need to get done. It's likely that you won't be able to do everything you once did, and that's okay. Focus your energy on what you must get done, as well as what's important to you. Let everything else go.
For example, your priorities in life may be your family and your pets. Choose activities that allow you to spend time with them, saying “no” to other activities.
Make a daily to-list of the things you'd like to get done. Then mark which items are essential, and which you can delay. For example, picking up your medication, letting the dog out, and paying the bills may be essential. Alternatively, cleaning the bathroom may be pushed to tomorrow.
2Cut yourself some slack, especially on painful days. It's important that your expectations match reality. There's no benefit to getting down on yourself. Instead, focus on doing your best and letting that be enough.
3Ask for help. Everyone needs help sometimes. Talk to your family members, friends, and coworkers about your neuropathy symptoms and what kinds of help you'll need. Let them help you when you need it.
For example, let someone else stoop to pick up items or carry heavy materials.
You could say, “My neuropathy causes pain in my hands and feet, so carrying reams of paper is difficult for me. Could you get the paper we need for the printer?”
4Don't stand for long periods of time. This can aggravate your symptoms. Not only will it increase pain, you may also lose your balance. When you're doing an activity that involves a lot of standing, take sit breaks.
If you need it, use a mobility aid, such as a wheelchair. For example, you might use a motorized scooter at the grocery store to avoid standing for too long.
5Celebrate who you are outside of your chronic pain. It's common as a neuropathy patient to filter your experiences through your illness, but you are not your pain. Although your symptoms may change how you live, you are still the same person. Look for ways to engage in the same activities that brought you joy before, even if it's at a reduced capacity. When you talk about yourself, share your likes, talents, and traits, not your neuropathy diagnosis.
For example, you may not be able to express your love for music by playing the piano, but you can listen to classical records and share them with those you love.
Try mindfulness meditation to help remind you that you are not defined by your body. This can help you learn to be at peace with your condition.
6Make a daily gratitude list. This will help you keep a positive mindset, even on difficult days. It teaches you to see the good in your life, and prevents you from focusing on the difficult moments. On days that your pain is bad, your gratitude list can help you keep your spirits up.
Write down 3-5 things that you're grateful for each day. It's okay to keep it simple. You might write, “1) Visit from Katie, 2) Sunny weather, 3) Cuddle time with Fluffy, and 4) Rose bushes bloomed.”
7Take up a hobby that you can do despite your symptoms. This may mean choosing different hobbies, or it could mean doing a smaller version of a favorite hobby. For example, you might not be able to crochet anymore, but you could try scrap booking. Similarly, you might not be able to keep up a garden, but you may be able to care for a few potted plants. Here are some options to try:
Read (you can try a tablet if you can't hold a book)
Listen to podcasts
Take free online classes through edx.org
Try abstract painting
Start a coffee club with your friends
Join a club
Join a site like Postcrossing.com, which allows you to exchange postcards with people all over the world
8See a therapist. A therapist can help you learn to better manage your feelings. They can teach you how to reframe your thoughts and use cognitive-behavioral strategies to cope with your illness.
You can find a therapist on PsychologyToday.com.
9Find a neuropathy support group. Talking to others in the same situation as you can help you better cope with your symptoms. Additionally, they can share advice that has helped them. Talk to your doctor to find out if they know any groups that meet in your area. You could also check with local mental health centers.
If you can't find a neuropathy support group, you could try a chronic pain support group.
Method 2 of 4:Taking Care of Your Body
1Eat a healthy, balanced diet. A healthy diet will improve your physical well-being and help relieve some of your symptoms. It's especially important that you eat well if you have diabetes.
Load up on vegetables
Enjoy small servings of fruits
Minimize simple sugars and processed foods
Opt for lean proteins, including a serving at every meal
Choose whole grainsTrustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
2Reduce or eliminate grains from your diet. Carbohydrates, such as those found in grains, can raise your blood pressure. For additional relief, try to reduce how many grain products you consume, including bread, pasta, and baked goods.Trustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source
A low-carb diet, such as the ketogenic diet, may be helping in reducing symptoms.
3Manage your blood sugar if you're a diabetic. If you don't, your symptoms may worsen.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source Make sure that you're doing all of the following:
Follow the meal plan provided by your doctor or dietician. If you need help, visit a dietician for more guidance.
Check your glucose in the morning, evening, and before and after meals.
Take your medication as prescribed by your doctor.
4Drink at least 8 glasses of fluids every day. This keeps you hydrated, which will help you feel your best. Being dehydrated can leave you feeling tired and dizzy, so drink up!Trustworthy SourceNational Health Service (UK)Public healthcare system of the UKGo to source
Water is your best option, but other drinks also hydrate you. If you don't like water, try adding a few slices of lemon, lime, or cucumber to make it taste better. You can also try herbal teas.
If you're exercising or taking a diuretic, drink more water.
5Stop smoking if you do. Smoking narrows your veins, which affects your circulation. This increases the likelihood that you'll experience foot problems, as well as neuropathy complications.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
Quitting is hard, so talk to your doctor about options to help you, such as the medication Chantix. You could also use gum or patches.
6Care for your feet, especially if you have diabetes. Wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes that include padding. Choose soft, loose socks, as tight socks can worsen your pain. Check your feet regularly for wounds, such as blisters or cuts.
Once a day, wash your feet carefully with soap and water. Dry your feet thoroughly, making sure that you reach the area between your toes.
Wear well-fitting shoes. Avoid going barefoot whenever possible.
Don't wear tight-fitting socks. Make sure that your socks are clean as well as comfortable.
If you notice wounds, treat them immediately with an antibiotic cream, and contact your doctor if they don't improve after a few days.
Method 3 of 4:Staying Active with Neuropathy
1Participate in physical therapy. Physical therapy can help you build strength in your body and maintain your mobility. The physical therapist will help you improve your conditioning. They'll also teach you stretches you can do at home.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
Ask your doctor for a physical therapy recommendation.
2Choose a low-impact cardio exercise. Doing 30 minutes of light exercise at least 3 times a week can improve your neuropathy pain. However, avoid pushing yourself to work out hard. Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise. Good options include:Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
3Do yoga. Yoga can be a low-impact exercise option for people with neuropathy. In addition to helping you stay active and maintain flexibility, it also gives you calming benefits. Stick to poses that do not push your body too far. You can also use yoga blocks and straps to make the poses easier for you.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
Try a yoga DVD for people with medical concerns, such as Yoga for Healing or Easy Yoga for Easing Pain.
If you can, sign up for a class. Let your instructor know that you are coping with neuropathy.
4Strengthen your muscles with bodyweight exercises. Neuropathy can cause your muscles to weaken. Fortunately, you don't need any equipment to strengthen your muscles. Keep it simple so that you don't injure yourself by doing calf raises and chair squats.
To do calf raises, stand in front of a sturdy object, placing your hands on it for balance. Slowly rise onto your toes, pause, then lower yourself back down to the floor. Repeat 10-15 times. You can do this exercise 3-5 times a week.
To do chair squats, stand with your back towards a stationary chair. It's a good idea to place it against the wall. Reach both hands backwards, placing them on the chair armrests for support. Slowly lower yourself down into the chair. When your hips touch the chair, slowly stand back up. Repeat 10-15 times twice a day, 3-5 times a week.
5Use mobility devices if you need them. It may be necessary to use a device such as a wheelchair, leg brace, cane, or walker. If the doctor recommends one, don't hesitate to use it, as it will improve your life overall. You'll be able to get around better, and you won't risk falling down.
Method 4 of 4:Managing Your Neuropathy Pain
1Take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Talk to your doctor about the best option for you. Taking an NSAID like ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin, or Naproxen will reduce inflammation in addition to mild pain. However, they aren't for everyone.
If your pain is extreme, your doctor may prescribe a prescription painkiller that contains an opioid. However, these are usually only prescribed when nothing else works, as they are highly addictive.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
2Use capsaicin 0.075% cream. Capsaicin cream includes an ingredient from hot peppers that helps relieve nerve pain. It's best for small areas of nerve pain, such as pain in your lower back or in certain joints. Apply a thin layer of the cream to the affected area up to 3 times a day, then wash your hands well.
Capsaicin cream causes a burning, tingling sensation that some people don't tolerate. The burning usually subsides after a few minutes. If it doesn't, stop using the cream.
Capsaicin cream is available over-the-counter at most drug stores.
3Apply a lidocaine 5% patch to the affected area. Lidocaine also works well for smaller areas, such as your lower back. It often comes in easy-to-apply patches that usually feel cool against your skin. The patches can relieve your nerve pain for a few hours.
Lidocaine patches can cause some people to experience drowsiness, dizziness, or numbness around the application spot.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
4Undergo alpha lipoic acid therapy to reduce pain. In this treatment, your doctor will administer alpha lipoic acid through an IV once a day for 3 weeks. Talk to your doctor to see if this therapy is right for you.Trustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source
5Ask your doctor about other medications. Your doctor might prescribe an anti-seizure or antidepressant medication. These medicines could change the chemicals in your body, providing temporary relief from pain. However, they come with their own side effects.
Anti-seizure medicines like gabapentin (Gralise, Neurontin) and pregabalin (Lyrica) can help relieve nerve pain in neuropathy patients.
Antidepressants like amitriptyline, doxepin and nortriptyline (Pamelor) can interfere with the chemical processes that cause you to feel pain, giving you relief.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
6Get a massage. Getting massages is a great holistic alternative for managing pain. Massage provides temporary pain relief by improving your circulation and stimulating your nerves.
You can also try self massage or use a personal foot massager.
7Try acupuncture. Acupuncture is another holistic way to manage pain. During acupuncture, a professional will insert tiny needles into the area being treated. Most people don't feel them. In some cases, the acupuncturist may move the needles around or apply cold or heat. They'll usually leave the needles in for 10 to 20 minutes before removing them.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
Make sure that your acupuncturist is certified.
8Take evening primrose oil. This herb can help manage pain for some patients. However, it can also interact with the medicines you're taking, so don't take it without talking to a doctor first.Trustworthy SourceMayo ClinicEducational website from one of the world's leading hospitalsGo to source
You can find evening primrose oil in softgels either at your drugstore or online.
You can combine evening primrose oil with vitamin E for even better results.Trustworthy SourcePubMed CentralJournal archive from the U.S. National Institutes of HealthGo to source
9Try visualization, also called guided imagery. This simple technique can help you manage your pain. It's an excellent option for people who either can't take additional medications or who still don't get relief even with medication. You can try it on your own or using a guided program, such as one found online.
For simple visualization, close your eyes and imagine a place you enjoy, such as the beach. Imagine yourself in a healthy body, enjoying the beach. For example, you may be running alongside the waves.Trustworthy SourceArthritis FoundationMain organization devoted to arthritis support and educationGo to source
For online guided programs, try a website like https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/integrative-complementary-medicine/guided-imagery.