The best way to prevent peripheral neuropathy is to carefully manage any
medical condition that puts you at risk. That means controlling your
blood sugar level if you have diabetes or talking to your doctor about
safe and effective treatments if you think you may have a problem with
Whether or not you have a medical condition, eat a healthy diet that's
rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. The best food
sources of vitamin B-12 are meats, fish, eggs and low-fat dairy foods.
If you're a strict vegetarian, make sure you get enough B-12 by choosing
soy products such as tofu, sea vegetables (dulse, kelp, kombu or nori —
the wrapping for sushi) or brewer's yeast. You may also want to talk to
your doctor about B-12 supplements.
As much as possible, avoid repetitive motions, cramped positions and
toxic chemicals, all of which may cause nerve damage.
The following suggestions can help you manage peripheral neuropathy:
Take care of
your feet, especially if you have diabetes.
Check your feet daily for signs of blisters, cuts or calluses. Tight
shoes and socks can worsen pain and tingling and may lead to sores
that won't heal. Wear soft, loose cotton socks and padded shoes. You
can use a semicircular hoop, which is available in medical supply
stores, to keep bedcovers off hot or sensitive feet.
Ask your doctor about an exercise routine that's right for you.
Regular exercise may reduce neuropathy pain and can help control
blood sugar levels.
Try to avoid foods or drinks high in caffeine, including coffee,
chocolate and sodas. Caffeine can make pain worse.
If you're at high risk of neuropathy or have a chronic medical
condition, healthy eating is especially important. Emphasize low-fat
meats and dairy products and include lots of fruits, vegetables and
whole grains in your diet.
hands and feet, or have someone massage them for you.
Massage helps improve circulation, stimulates nerves and may
temporarily relieve pain.
Living with chronic pain or disability presents daily challenges. Some
of these suggestions may make it easier for you to cope:
Decide which tasks you need to do on a given day, such as paying
bills or shopping for groceries, and which can wait until another
time. Stay active, but don't overdo.
Get out of the
When you have severe pain, it's natural to want to be alone. But
this only makes it easier to focus on your pain. Instead, visit a
friend, go to a movie or take a walk.
Seek and accept
It isn't a sign of weakness to ask for or accept help when you need
it. In addition to support from family and friends, consider joining
a chronic pain support group. Although support groups aren't for
everyone, they can be good places to hear about coping techniques or
treatments that have worked for others. You'll also meet people who
understand what you're going through. To find a support group in
your community, check with your doctor, a nurse or the county health
especially stressful is coming up in your life, such as a move or a
new job, knowing what you have to do ahead of time can help you
Talk to a
counselor or therapist.
Insomnia, depression and impotence are possible complications of
peripheral neuropathy. If you experience any of these, you may find
it helpful to talk to a counselor or therapist in addition to your
primary care doctor. There are treatments that can help.