Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which nerves in the extremities are damaged. This can result in a host of symptoms, such as pain, tingling, and numbness in the affected areas.
At CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center, with multiple locations in Maryland, our board-certified physical medicine and rehabilitation specialists are experts in treating peripheral neuropathy, including diabetic neuropathy, and we can help you manage your symptoms with a variety of treatments.
In this blog, we explain more about what peripheral neuropathy is and how lifestyle changes may be able to help you manage your symptoms.
Peripheral neuropathy basics
You have two parts to your nervous system: your central nervous system and peripheral nervous system. Your central nervous system consists of your brain and spinal cord. Your peripheral nervous system consists of all of the other nerves in your body.
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which certain nerves in the peripheral nervous system are damaged. Because of this damage, the affected areas can manifest a variety of symptoms, such as the following:
- Tingling or burning
- Sharp pains
- Inability to feel temperature changes
- Sweating and/or heat intolerance
- Muscle cramps and/or weakness
- Digestive issues, toileting difficulties, and/or incontinence
While there are many potential causes of peripheral neuropathy, uncontrolled diabetes is by far the most common. Having uncontrolled blood sugar for a long time can cause irreversible nerve damage, usually presenting most severely in the toes, feet, and legs, as well as the fingers, hands, and arms.
4 lifestyle changes to help you manage peripheral neuropathy
There are several lifestyle changes you can make to help manage your peripheral neuropathy symptoms. We list four of them here:
1. Control your blood sugar levels
While nerve damage involved with peripheral neuropathy is irreversible, you can help prevent further damage and reduce your symptoms by keeping your blood sugar levels under control. This might mean watching what you eat, using portion control, taking oral medications, or possibly injecting insulin.
2. Exercise as much as you can
Keeping moving can improve circulation and may be able to help you reduce neuropathy symptoms. Additionally, it may be able to lower your blood sugar. Try taking a short, but brisk, walk several times a day, and flex your hands and fingers frequently to keep blood moving.
3. Keep your hands and feet warm in the winter
During the winter, it can be more difficult to maintain feeling in the extremities due to the cold, and this can be especially true if you have peripheral neuropathy. Make sure you keep your hands and feet warm by having proper protection. And if you get cold while sleeping, consider placing warm water bottles near you to help maintain warmth throughout the night.
4. Check your feet and toes frequently for wounds
A dangerous effect of diabetes and peripheral neuropathy is the fact that you may not notice small wounds to your extremities. If left untreated, these injuries can get infected and even result in the need for amputation. Make it a habit to wash and check your feet each night, and wear protective footwear.
If you’re suffering from peripheral neuropathy, we can help. Our providers can perform a thorough evaluation to ascertain the level of nerve damage and discuss your next steps. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone with CHOICE Pain & Rehabilitation Center today.
Our Maryland offices are located in Hyattsville, Gaithersburg, Lanham, Dundalk, Oxon Hill, Rosedale, and Olney, and we have two offices in Baltimore.