Natural Therapies that Help Neuropathic Pain
Neuropathic pain is the result of an injury or malfunction of the nervous system. Due to this, the patient feels pain, weakness, and numbness. Are there natural therapies to alleviate it? In this article we'll tell you everything you need to know.
In the last few years, experts have accepted some natural therapies as an accompaniment to help neuropathic pain. While they aren’t the first line of defense against this condition, patients can use them as secondary therapies to improve their symptoms and thus have a better quality of life.
Neuropathic pain is pain that appears as a consequence of an injury or dysfunction of the nervous system, as defined by the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). It can be found in the central nervous system – bone marrow and brain – or peripheral areas – nerves, microscopic nerve plexus, and nerve ends.
It’s often severe, chronic pain, the treatment of which can be difficult. Because of this, it’s important to see your doctor and evaluate your treatment options depending on each case. Nevertheless, as we mentioned, you can also consider some natural therapies that seem to help manage the symptoms. We’ll detail those therapies below.
Natural therapies to help neuropathic pain
According to information published in The Lancet Neurology, neuropathic pain is characterized by a spontaneous, continuous or stabbing pain that appears after harmful or non-harmful stimuli. In patients that suffer from it, pain responses are amplified, which reduces quality of life.
Given its complexity, both the diagnosis and treatment are difficult to achieve. However, according to the same source, there are advanced medicinal treatments that can help control the symptoms. These include options like:
- Amitriptyline, gabapentin, and pregabalin, which are usually the first options
- Duloxetine, a second option
- Opioids, tramadol, and topical pharmaceuticals
- Other antiepileptic and antidepressant drugs
Nowadays, thanks to recent research, they have proposed some natural therapies that could help manage the symptoms of neuropathic pain. While it’s always best to consult with a medical professional before starting any of these therapies, they’re options you should consider for your treatment. Let’s take a closer look.
This is a type of complementary therapy that’s part of traditional Chinese medicine. In this therapy, they insert thin needles into your skin, at various pressure points, with the goal being to help balance the energy in your body.
From the point of view of western medicine, this type of therapy helps to stimulate the nerves and muscles. Because of that, it can be a good secondary therapy to improve blood circulation and reduce your pain response. However, we need more studies about it.
In spite of this, many patients with neuropathic pain have chosen to use this therapy to improve their symptoms. As a matter of fact, a pilot study published in the European Journal of Neurology found interesting results in the management of pain caused by this condition.
In any case, acupuncture should only be carried out by licensed professionals, since it also has risks. Malpractice can lead to injury, infection, and other complications.
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One of the best natural therapies to help neuropathic pain is physical exercise. In fact, it’s one of the habits suggested by conventional medicine to improve the health and quality of life of patients affected by this condition.
Regular exercise helps to increase muscle tone and promote circulation. Due to this, it can help to calm some symptoms of neuropathy. A study published in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience determined that physical exercise helps to improve nervous function and reduces neuropathic pain, and other types of sensory dysfunction, like numbness.
On the other hand, exercise also promotes regulation of blood glucose levels, which helps to reduce the risk of complications related to diabetic neuropathy. Ideally, you should start gradually, without overworking yourself. Additionally, it’s best to ask for help from a professional trainer or physical therapist.
Meditation and yoga
Techniques like meditation and yoga can be complementary therapies for neuropathic pain. Both practices can help you to better face the pain caused by this condition. Likewise, they’re ideal to reduce stress and other emotions that can worsen your pain.
A study published in the International Journal of MS Care determined that meditation helps to reduce fatigue and pain caused by neuropathy. Additionally, it helps improve the mental health of patients, who are prone to having stress, anxiety, and depression.
Likewise, a recent study in the Annals of Neurosciences indicates that yoga can also be used as a complement to control neuropathic pain caused by bone marrow lesions. Careful yoga practice could positively influence your pain management.
The recommendations to practice both disciplines are similar, and, in fact, you can combine them. The best thing is to look for a calm and comfortable area, away from any distractions. Additionally, if possible, you should do it with an expert who can help direct you correctly.
Are there other natural therapies to help neuropathic pain?
In addition to the mentioned therapies, there are other options that you should keep in mind if you suffer from neuropathic pain. The most important thing is to remember that none of these therapies substitutes your doctor’s treatment plan, and they should all be done with proper caution. The options include:
- Bathing in warm water
- Using topical ointments with capsaicin
- Making sure you have an optimal intake of vitamins, especially B complex vitamins
- Using essential oils in massages or aromatherapy
- Avoiding alcohol and tobacco
If you suffer from this condition, remember to get regular medical checkups. In fact, doctors and health specialists are the only ones who can give you a complete treatment for this type of pain. Keep that in mind!