Your nervous system is the electrical conduit that allows signals from your brain to transfer to the rest of your body. They provide the ability to experience all off the senses such as touch, sight, and taste as well as direct the movement of your muscles and limbs. When the nerves are damaged or are receiving pressure from another source such as a bulging disc or bone spur they can be susceptible to painful responses that are difficult to control.
The sensation of nerve pain can feel like a dull burning or a sharp electrical shock. The pain can be debilitating in a number of cases and difficult to treat for a variety of reasons. Overwhelming nerve pain can result in an inability to function normally throughout the day. Nerve pain can also cause problems with sleeping, anxiety, and depression. Because of this it is extremely important to treat the cause and source of the pain as well as any related symptoms. It may also be beneficial to take a holistic approach to provide benefits for your entire life.
Types of nerve pain
Nerve pain is a complex category of pain response and many conditions can cause this type of pain. Some of the most common conditions include:
- Complex regional pain syndrome: Also known as CRPS this chronic pain and sensory condition typically affects the arms and legs. It is more common in women especially between the ages of 40 and 60. The condition has been known by a number of different names including Sudecks atrophy, causalgia, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RDS), shoulder hand syndrome, post-traumatic dystrophy, and reflex neurovascular dystrophy. This condition is seen in patients after sustaining damage to the limbs which includes surgery, infection, or a fracture.
- Fibromyalgia: This syndrome is still a medical mystery and the exact causes remain unknown. It is characterized by widespread pain and a decreased pain threshold. It affects around 2% of the general population in the United States. The pain will generally manifest as tenderness and a range of physical symptoms including headaches and facial pain.
- Peripheral neuropathy and diabetic neuralgia: This is typically the result of nerve damage and will cause weakness, numbness, or pain in the hands and feet of affected patients. The pain is usually described as a tingling or burning and there may be a loss of sensation. Rheumatoid arthritis is occasionally associated with this condition. This nerve damage is caused by the inflammation of blood vessels caused by the arthritis. Other common causes include vitamin deficiencies, alcoholism, autoimmune diseases, certain medications, unknown causes, and from diabetes.
Is medication always the best solution for nerve pain?
Pain relief can come in a number of forms and both over-the-counter and prescription medications can reduce the body’s pain response and alleviate symptoms of nerve pain. However, there are a number of side effects for both non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as well as opioids that may be used for pain.
NSAIDs have common side effects of nausea, constipation, dizziness, and ulcers. Kidney and liver failure are also possible side effects, although rare. NSAIDs, with the exception of aspirin, may increase a patient’s risk of heart attack or stroke.
Opiate medications have many more concerning side effects including the potential of a patient developing a tolerance to the medication which causes an increased need for more of the drugs. This can lead to dependence and even addiction.
For these reasons, there may be more effective and natural remedies for certain types of nerve pain that would not require the consumption of drugs such as NSAIDs or opioid pain killers. An alternative and holistic approach to controlling nerve pain and alleviating the symptoms may be dietary supplements.
Dietary supplements and natural treatments for nerve pain
Long before the discovery of scientific medicine, humans were adept at finding natural treatments for illnesses and injuries. We have known for millennia the benefits of various herbs, roots, and compounds and they are no less effective today just because of the development of scientific medicine. In fact, many modern medications were developed using knowledge of how these natural compounds worked to heal the body. Let’s look at some common supplements and natural treatments for nerve pain.
Capsaicin is the compound found in chili peppers that create the hot sensation when you taste them. This compound can be used as a topical treatment to relieve pain. When applied directly to the skin you may feel a burning sensation at first but that feeling will dissipate after a short period of time. Make sure you thoroughly wash your hands after applying the ointment before touching any sensitive body parts.
This yellow Indian spice is common in curry dishes and may be one of the most delicious pain remedies available. It can be sold as capsules, extracts, powders, and the whole root. It has been used throughout Indian history to control pain. It also aids with longevity and vitality for those who use it. It has anti-inflammatory properties. The easiest way to use this may be to add curries to your weekly menu.
This very common root is often used in Asian cuisine and is a relative of turmeric. It has been known to reduce inflammation, increase circulation, and help joint pain. You can take ginger as a capsule or brew it in a tea. Add it to your dinner plate by making a delicious stir-fry. As an added benefit, ginger has also been known to help with nausea and motion sickness.
A deficiency in vitamin D is often noted when a patient is experiencing chronic pain. Vitamin D is also essential for the body to process much needed calcium to maintain strong, healthy bones. You can take supplements or add more milk to your diet.
A neurochemical associated with pain, known as NMDA, can be controlled by the right amount of magnesium in our systems. It also improves circulation and relaxes stiff muscles. Supplements are available but topical forms such as Epsom salts may be an alternative. Add the salt to a bath to absorb magnesium into your skin directly.
Part of a holistic approach
Adding supplements or natural healing methods to aid in alleviating nerve pain is good for your overall well-being. All too often medical science will focus on the symptoms of a condition without taking the entire person into consideration. Approaching pain relief from a natural perspective can restore your body’s natural balance and help you return to a more normal day to day routine.
What natural treatments for nerve pain have you used? Were they effective?
Image by Miran Rijavec via Flickr