Natural Treatment for Peripheral Neuropathy


NOTE: I am not a medical professional, but I am someone who silently suffered from peripheral neuropathy. I've tried a lot of things with different results so that I could live with the condition without the use of medication, even though mine is quite severe. 

Peripheral neuropathy, the silent torture. I'm extremely youthful in energy and attitude and also painfully stoic (get that from my mom). I watched peripheral neuropathy do it's crazy creep for a decade before I finally realized I wasn't mentioning it to my doctor because she'd try to throw medicine at it and the last thing I want to do is take a prescription the rest of my life that would give me side effects that aren't worth the original problem.

The most often causes of neuropathy are diabetes and herniated disks in the back and as we age our spines age too. I had a seated desk job for 40 years of my life, and pre-diabetes, so I was destined to this problem.

For me, this began the moment I woke up from surgery on my Achilles. The entire foot felt like it was too tightly wound. I mentioned to the doctor at the next visit that I want the foot wrapped looser. It didn't help. 

Even after the wrap came off, and months later, the boot came off, the feel of oddness remained in the foot. It felt as if the plantar fascia had become magnetized so that the foot felt tight and I wanted to spread my toes all the time to loosen it. The flesh was sensitive, feeling sometimes as if I removed it from an snow bank and put it in hot water, and to touch it! It was numb while also being hypersensitive. Dysesthesia is a common term for this. 

Soon, it moved to the other foot as well, and over the decade crept its way from feeling like I was wearing ankle socks all the time to feeling like I was wearing knee socks.

In my own way, not wanting to admit anything changed in me and wanting to do all the things I normally do, I ignored it. But I couldn't ignore it when I went to bed.

The minute the curled up feeling feet no longer had contact with the floor, I couldn't sleep. 

Some things I found that helped me - 

Heating pad on tailbone for a while.

Massage gun used on buttocks and hips.

Tiger's Balm.

Wearing shoes to bed - 

I found those shoes that are made of sock material and used those when sleeping so my feet had contact with something. 

You know something isn't right when you own a pair of shoes only used in bed!

I tried a brace once to keep the foot at a 90-degree ankle as I slept, but the one I got was complicated and fell apart, so I found one that worked well. It's awkward, so I put a pillow between my legs so I'm not knocking around in them. It does a great job of stretching the achilles and the calf muscles as sitting too long, shortens them. 

sleeping brace (you need to buy two)

I worked on my daytime issues, like posture, standing half the time I type instead of sitting, wall pilates to stretch, and getting some walking time in with good arch supports.

The biggest saving grace was these sneakers with arch support made for plantar fasciitis and so freaking comfortable, I'm tempted to wear them all day. 

At one point, I gave acupuncture a try for several months with zero effect on this condition or the Bell's palsy synkinesis I was trying to deal with naturally.

I'm considering utilizing a chiropractor but my issues with are my age and potential spine decline and neck decline - I really don't want someone manipulating my senior body.

I did a membership to Massage Envy for a year. I found that the massages left my ass so swollen I could barely sit and the pain from the fluid build up was extreme. I had to try to pull on spanks, drink tons of water, and apply ice. About a week later, the pain went away, the legs and feet actually felt normal again. It made me wonder at the daily sitting, the daily swelling I feel in the buttocks where the critical nerves pass, and a condition known as piriformis syndrome. A muscle deep in the butt goes right over the exit point of the nerves to the legs and can push against it. The only probem with that is, it's very rare. 

When it comes to the matters of peripheral neuropathy, it's best to consult your physician because if it's diabetes related, you need to treat the sugars and if it's disc related, you need to see if it can be surgically treated. 

My personal avoidance of the doctor was that my Achilles surgery was botched and my trust was injured. I also at the time did not have health care and when I did acquire it, I didn't have any support as a single person to get testing done and any procedures done. I had to continue to try to survive alone and so I ignored it as if it were a relative who stayed too long.

I did realize that I couldn't get anywhere close to touching my toes while standing. My body was extremely stiff from being seated during waking hours and never doing stretches. The muscles shortened, some muscles overextended. The upper back rounds out and stretches while the chest tightens and shortens as you type. Being seated, the back of the legs muscles shorten a good deal. I had pain seated in my low hips/butt area and it hurt to sit for long and standing up, I was gelled or stiff for the first steps to shake it off. I realized osteoarthritis was in the picture, as well.

I wanted to do stretches, but yoga wasn't happening any time soon. I ended up finding wall pilates and it was not only easy to perform, but also added to my muscle strength. 

I realized to keep my spine aligned and strong, I needed core exercises and to help my seated work situation, I needed a standing desk.

This standing desk saved me so much! It sits atop your desk and when you want to stand, it lifts up. I would type 1 hour seated, then stand the desk and play music as I typed for an hour. While standing I would march or dance. By the end of an 8-hour day, I had 4 hours of standing/exercise without realizing it.

It's natural to want to give supplements a try. Sadly, almost no insurances pay for them, but you have to weigh the cost and effectiveness. There's many mixes nowadays that involve the core needs. Don't be surprised to see that a 60 capsule supplement lasts one month and costs around $35. 

These usually involve B vitamins, magnesium, and alpha-lipoic acid. 

I have set up an appointment with my doctor as I know they will want to give me the standard RX for neuropathy but the side effects are horrendous and I am more willing to change my lifestyle and learn to deal with it than to push a pharmaceutical. 

So, I will discuss the use of this supplement and a trial period to see how it does. If it creates a trace of relief, that's fine. I've learned to live with this condition, so any improvement is welcome. 

Driving - if your peripheral neuropathy is severe like mine, driving can be a chore. It can be hard to tell if your foot is on the pedal right. Be sure you wear adequate shoes and practice brake to gas over and over to be sure you are hitting the pedal. It's the oddest little things that we don't think about in daily life where we need feeling in our feet.

I also don't go barefoot except when showering, swimming, and doing wall pilates. Around the house, I wear slippers or sandals because when you can't feel your feet, you also can't tell you stepped on glass. Infection in the feet, especially as we age and if you have diabetes, can be a serious complication. It's not worth losing a leg over.

Consider slowly replacing your street shoes with ones that are orthopedic, arch support, diabetic, plantar fasciitis friendly. They are costly, but they are so worth a steady step and support for your entire frame as you move about.

If you an get physical therapy sessions in, give it a try. If not, consider utilizing reputable videos on YouTube given by physiotherapists. 

Another huge help is suggested in the video above - utilizing walking, stationary bike, or while working at a desk, using an under desk pedaller or glider to do 5-15 minutes of movement to keep circulation good and nerves engaged.

This machine above is on my wish list. I like that it also has hookup and straps to work upper body too, especially since the shoulders curl in as we type. 

I tend to be miserly, so what I ended up doing at the desk works great. I have vinyl flooring so I wear socks, but if I rub the socks on the flooring back and forth like a glider, I build up static, so I make it glide easier and don't get zapped by putting a sheet of printer paper between me and the floor. 

As I find more solutions, I will share them. I am on a circuit now of being educated in a wide variety of alternative healing methods. 

I tried a grounding mat that plugs into the wall and my bare feet under the desk on it, but saw zero difference. I did try sleeping upon the mat and that was surprisingly good. They make grounding sheets and pillowcases now. Amazing. 

It becomes clearer as we age that we need to refocus on ourselves instead of family and career. Our bodies let us know how long we ignored them. 

Tai Chi and Qi Gong are also great practices for integrating. I've used methods like tapping and visualization, as well. 

Good luck on your journey and know you are not alone!