If you’ve complained to your doctor about prickling in your fingers and numbness or cold in your feet, you might have been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, a condition involving damage to the peripheral nervous system, the nerves running from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body.
Peripheral neuropathy usually starts with the numbness and a prickling or tingling sensation in your feet or hands, which can spread to the legs and arms, but you may also experience sharp, throbbing, freezing or burning pain, extreme sensitivity to touch, weakness, and a lack of coordination that can lead to falls.
Peripheral neuropathy is usually caused by diabetes (called diabetic neuropathy), some medications (especially those used to treat cancer), other diseases (including kidney, liver, cancer, and autoimmune disease), and even vitamin deficiencies.
Some medications used to treat peripheral neuropathy include antidepressants and anti-seizure medications, though it is not clear how they work for nerve pain. Commonly prescribed medications include Neurontin (gabapentin), Lyrica (pregabalin), and Cymbalta (duloxetine). But there are some alternative, natural treatments and therapies that many patients have used to get pain relief. Talk to your doctor about trying some of these natural remedies for peripheral neuropathy:
Capsaicin, the active compound found in hot peppers, is thought to reduce chronic neuropathic pain by making nerves less sensitive to pain messages, and researchers have found moderate success with using topical capasaicin cream to treat neuropathy. Valerie Lloyd, a 65-year-old Alexandria, Va., resident, says she has found some relief for her peripheral neuropathy in a foot cream with capsaicin.