Numbness, burning, Stabbing, prickling, tingling—these words may describe nerve pain. You know that when the pain is not controlled, it can be neverending and difficult to bear. (1) 20 to 40 million people in the United States experience some type of nerve pain according to the latest estimates. (2)(3)
Did you know?
There are natural remedies that may regenerate nerves. Medical treatments can range from medications to surgical interventions including amputations. Often, nerve pain is a chronic condition.
The good news is that you can get nerve pain relief, without the need for surgery or expensive, dangerous drugs with potentially serious side effects. Many have tackled symptoms with the right combination of natural treatments, lifestyle changes, and supplements. The key is finding the root cause of the problem and what is safe and effective for your unique nerve pain. Be sure to discuss with our specialists about the best nerve pain relief plan for you.
What is nerve pain?
Nerve pain can result from many sources such as cancer, diabetes, infection, surgery, or injury. You might hear it called neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy, which means nerve damage of one or more nerves of the peripheral nervous system that sends pain messages to the brain. (1) Depending on its cause, nerve pain can affect many parts of the body. Here are just a few types:
What causes nerve pain
- Mild to severe Back pain can lead to mild to severe sciatic nerve pain. The sciatic nerve travels from the lower back to the buttocks all the way to the bottom of the feet and can cause pain when irritated. When the sciatic nerve is irritated, it is called sciatica. Sciatica need not be limited to the lower back. (4)
- Diabetes can cause neuropathy in the hands and feet due to elevated blood sugar. Diabetes can not only cause neuropathy but also can cause digestive complaints, urinary tract infections, damage to blood vessels, heart problems. For some, diabetic neuropathy can be mild and for others, it is quite painful. (5)
- Vitamin deficiencies, toxins, medications, and chemotherapy can cause nerve damage. Nerve pain may also be caused by malnutrition, specifically the Standard American Diet which is deficient in vitamin B12. Some medications can also cause peripheral neuropathy. Check your medication labels for side effects of nerve pain.
Did you know?
In the United States, one of the most common vitamin deficiencies is vitamin B12 deficiency. . An estimated 10% and 25% of people over 80 years of age may suffer from a B12 deficiency. (6) The good news is that symptoms resulting from vitamin deficiency can be reversed with specific supplements for nerve pain. (7)
- There are chronic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, and other conditions that can cause nerve pain. For example, damaged joints caused by arthritis signals your brain to cause severe nerve pain. (8)(30) Similarly, “up to two-thirds of people with MS report pain as a symptom in worldwide studies.”(9) In some cases, neuropathy can last up to 12 weeks. (10)
Why is Sciatica so common?
What exactly is sciatica? The sciatic nerve is the largest nerve in the human body and starts at the low back and runs through the hips and down both legs. (11) Sciatica affects up to 40% of Americans during their lives, and it is especially more common as adults get older. (12) As we age, our body and spine suffer damage thus causing compression of the spine, bulging and herniated discs, and infection.
The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back and runs down both legs and is the largest nerve in the body.
Coping with Nerve Pain
Your medical doctor will often prescribe pain medications and if this does not help then refer you to specialists for nerve blocks, surgery, injections, amputation, and other treatments. (11)
The good news is there are natural remedies and treatments for nerve pain that do not include invasive surgery, dangerous medication side effects, and usually are less expensive. Natural remedies include lifestyle changes, supplements, and more. Book an appointment with one of our Doctors to get a customized plan for you!
Lifestyle tips for nerve pain relief
If you are struggling with nerve pain, it is best to find a customized approach. Your neuropathy pain may be caused by a different root problem as compared to others. A singular approach does not work for everyone. Visit with our doctors to get a plan customized for you. Some activities that people find effective include using hot or cold packs, exercise, physical therapy, massage, biofeedback, acupuncture, and other modalities. Here are some of the most cited general suggestions for coping with nerve pain.
Diet and habits
- A balanced diet is crucial for neuropathy. The Standard American Diet is high in processed foods can lead to obesity, diabetes, and neuropathy. (13) On the other hand, some popular diets are so restrictive that they can cause nutrient deficiencies that lead to neuropathy. (14) This is why it is important to get tested for nutrient deficiencies. Testing for food deficiencies is one of our specialties.
- Exercise releases our bodies’ endorphins, our natural painkillers, and encourages blood flow to the nerves. (15) Exercise needs to be modified so that the exercise does not cause further nerve damage.
- Being in pain may cause sleep disturbances. A good night’s sleep can help with pain control, so it’s important to prevent restless nights of tossing and turning with pain. (16) Include natural methods for sleep such as meditation and taking supplements like melatonin before bedtime.
- Alcohol use worsens neuropathy. (17)(18) Alcohol commonly reacts with medications, changing how they work and possibly causing a risk to your health. (19)
- Tobacco use is known to lower the blood flow to nerves and slows healing. (20)
Yoga and stretching
Exercise such as stretching increases muscle flexibility and relaxes tight muscles. Studies show that yoga or stretches help improve flexibility and reduces pain. (21)(22) Other exercises such as strength training, have been shown to reduce pain by improving flexibility, strength, balance, and endurance. (23)
Best supplements for nerve pain
Herbs, natural extracts, essential oils, have been used as natural pain relievers for centuries. Natural supplements can help nerve pain. Natural supplements do not have the side effects of common pain-relief drugs. For example, ibuprofen, a common nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) can lead to stomach ulcers, kidney problems, and other issues.
Did you know?
Opioids, are responsible for the majority of accidental overdose deaths in the United States and are highly addictive. (25)
Below are supplements that help control nerve pain.
The B vitamins, especially B12, are important for nerve health. B12 helps the body form red blood cells and may support bone and nerve health. The lack of B12 can cause nerve pain. (26) The body does not make its own vitamin B12. We must obtain vitamin B12 through foods. Vitamin B12 can be found in animal foods like clams and beef liver (two of the best sources of B12) as well as marine algae, fish, chicken, eggs, milk, and other dairy products. Breakfast cereals may have added B12, and this can be found on the nutrition label.
Foods that contain vitamin B12 include beef liver, marine algae, fish, mushrooms, and dairy products.
Early findings suggest that the amino acids acetyl L-carnitine, lipoic acid, and L-carnitine may have positive effects in patients with diabetes and support nerve health. (27) Lowering inflammation is also important to nerve health. Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation. Researchers discovered that patients stated their pain levels decreased when taking omega-3 supplmentation. (28) Omega-3s have been studied and found to improve nerves damaged by chemotherapy.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, a spice widely used in Asian and Indian foods. Curcumin has been used to decrease inflammation, treat pain and arthritis. (29) Studies show that Curcumin relieves nerve pain.
Curcumin can be added to tea, curries, or even a glass of non-dairy milk. Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric (Curcuma longa and helps decrease nerve pain. Curcumin has anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin also protects the nerves. (30)
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric and is used for flavoring and coloring in Asian and Indian cooking.
Cannabidiol (CBD), comes from the cannabis plant. Don’t let the idea of marijuana stir up any controversy—CBD does not cause the drug-like effect of “getting high”. The CBD part of the cannibis plant is separated from the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of cannabis. CBD has long been associated decreasing inflammation and nerve pain. In a recent study, when CBD was applied on the skin it helped lower the arthritis pain and inflammation. It is also shown to calm nerve pain, which causes chronic suffering for many people. (31)(32) The CBD can be extracted and used in capsules, oils, creams and gels, and sprays.
Capsaicin numbs the area where it is applied, alleviated back pain and nerve pain (33) The numbing effect of capsaicin creams and ointments can bring soothing temporary nerve pain relief. Capsaicin is an active ingredient from chili peppers. Capsaicin comes in a cream or ointment and can be applied directly where there is pain.
Essential oils are plant extracts. Some common essential oils include eucalyptus, lavender, and many more. Aromatherapy is a natural therapy that uses these oils, either by inhalation or applied to the skin. Studies show that essential oils may help to alleviate nerve pain.
- Inhaling eucalyptus oil was found in recent studies to alleviate pain, and decrease blood pressure, for patients who had total knee replacement surgery. (34)
- Among its many uses, ginger oil has been shown to help nausea, migraines, muscle pain, and inflammation. (35) Chronic inflammation is one cause of nerve damage. (36)
- Research suggests that lavender oil has pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects in animals. (37)
- Aromatherapy can be beneficial to control pain. It also does not have the dangerous side effects that pain management drugs cause the body. (38)
The bottom line
It is best to take a holistic approach for nerve pain. Include pain relief supplements such as CBD, essential oils, vitamin B12 and curcumin in your diet. Also, include physical activities such as acupuncture, physical therapy, and yoga. The good news is that you have many supplements and other natural treatments to help you cope with nerve pain effectively. The key is finding the right ratio!