Foot nerve pain, whether caused by diabetes or anything else, can be so severe that it becomes debilitating. While it can get better, improvement can take months or even longer. Your doctor will show you the best ways to treat the problem, but there are several things you can do at home to help find relief.
Why Foot Nerve Pain Happens
There are many potential reasons for foot nerve pain, including an injury, a disease such as diabetes, chemotherapy, certain lower back conditions, side effects of medications, and more.1 But the exact mechanism that causes the pain is still unclear. What is known is that damaged nerves can misfire mistakenly, sending pain signals for no reason. Although treatments often help, in many cases patients say they still live in near constant discomfort.
Strategies for Reducing Foot Pain
People often turn to alternative strategies in order to relieve their pain, including exercise, changes in diet, and many others. Here are just a few of them.
While this may seem like a counter-intuitive thing to do for someone suffering from foot nerve pain, walking can actually be very beneficial. Any type of vigorous exercise releases endorphins, which are natural painkillers released by the body. In addition, walking can also help improve blood circulation in the legs and feet, helping to provide nerves with the nourishment they need in order to get back to normal. Like any exercise program, however, you should not start a walking regimen without first getting permission from your doctor.
Practicing proper foot care
One of the more frustrating – and potentially even dangerous – aspects of nerve damage is a lack of sensation in the affected area. If you can’t feel a part of your body, you might be more likely to overlook basic care. This can lead to an increased risk of a severe infection. Take the time every day to thoroughly check your feet for any wounds and treat them immediately – no matter how minor they may seem. Also, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and see your podiatrist on a regular basis.
Simply soaking your feet each night can help reduce your foot nerve pain substantially. It helps increase blood circulation and just makes you feel more relaxed. It’s very important, however, to check the temperature of the water with your arm or hand before you soak. If you lack sensation in your feet and the water is too hot, you run the risk of doing significant damage.
Get more sleep
Good sleeping habits can also help reduce nerve pain. Put a limit on the amount of caffeine you drink during the afternoon and evening, and try to get at least eight hours each night.
Ice can reduce inflammation, which can, in turn, reduce pain. Use a bag of ice, an ice pack or even a bag of frozen vegetables for about 15 minutes at a time.
Be careful when buying shoes
You might have to sacrifice some style in order to find comfort from foot nerve pain when it comes to purchasing footwear. That means buying more comfortable shoes instead of heels.2 Also, consider using inserts in order to increase the amount of support for your feet. High-quality inserts may be costly, but they can reduce pain by making sure weight is distributed more evenly across both feet.
Medications for Foot Nerve Pain Associated With Diabetic Neuropathy
One of the most common reasons for foot nerve pain is a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. This results in tingling, numbness and weakness in the extremities, but also extremely sharp pain. It often starts out mild, but then gradually worsens to the point to where it’s excruciating.
As many as 20 percent of people with diabetes will eventually experience neuropathy, which can have a profound effect on quality of life. Patients can try to reduce nerve damage by closely watching their blood sugar, eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. But sometimes, these measures aren’t enough, and they need medications to help control the problem.3 These are some of the more common medicines used to help reduce foot nerve pain caused by diabetic neuropathy.
- Over-the-counter medications –A doctor will usually recommend a pain reliever such as aspirin, Advil, Tylenol or something similar for patients whose symptoms are mild or just beginning. These are designed to be taken in low doses for a short period of time.
- Antidepressants –If over-the-counter medications don’t work, your doctor may recommend an antidepressant in order to try and reduce your discomfort. These types of medications, however, can lead to side effects such as fatigue and sweating. If you have a history of heart issues, your doctor will likely prescribe an alternative medicine.
- Opioids – These powerful medicines are only meant for people suffering from severe pain, and are often prescribed as a last resort when other medications prove unsuccessful. Patients have to use extreme caution when taking opioids, however, because they often have severe side effects and can also be addictive.
- Other medications – There are several drugs that are used to prevent seizures due to epilepsy that can also help reduce foot nerve pain. Side effects typically include dizziness and drowsiness.
- Physical therapy – In addition to medications, doctors will often prescribe physical therapy treatments in order to help reduce the discomfort associated with diabetic neuropathy. These exercises are usually low impact, because vigorous exercises can often increase numbness in patients who have severe neuropathy. But in many instances, even low-impact exercises such as swimming can help reduce foot nerve pain and keep a condition from worsening.
If you are experiencing foot nerve pain, talk to your doctor to find out why it’s happening and to put together a treatment plan. But don’t forget to take steps on your own to reduce your discomfort, because they can also be very effective.
For more health tips, keep reading:
1.”Foot Pain Causes – Mayo Clinic”. Mayo Clinic. N.p., 2017. Web. 27 May 2017.
2.”How Bad Are Heels For You Really?”. Shape Magazine. N.p., 2017. Web. 27 May 2017.
3.”Tips For Treating Diabetic Nerve Pain”. Healthline. N.p., 2017. Web. 27 May 2017.