It occurs when injury or health conditions cause nerve damage and pain along the central nervous system or peripheral nerves, affecting signal transmission to the brain.
Neuropathic pain is spontaneous; patients describe it as a shooting, stabbing, burning, or electric shock-like painful sensation. Moreover, it may manifest as evoked pain triggered by changes in environmental stimuli like cold temperature and pressure against the skin.
Even though nerve pain is incurable, it is manageable. Below are the top five non-medicinal ways to get relief from nerve pain.
Cannabinoids are compounds occurring predominantly in the cannabis plant that bind to the body’s endocannabinoid system when consumed, modulating physical and psychological body functions. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a signal transmission channel with regulators throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems and relieves pain as well.
Delta-9 THC and cannabidiol (CBD) are the dominant cannabinoids in cannabis plants. One clinical study review shows strong evidence that CBD and THC effectively alleviate neuropathic pain.
Although cannabinoids are available in various consumable forms like vapes, tinctures, and topicals, edibles like THC gummies are more effective for neuropathic pain relief. One expert review shows that ingested THC undergoes first-pass metabolism, whereby liver enzymes add a hydroxyl group to its molecules, forming 11-hydroxy tetrahydrocannabinol (11-OH-THC), a THC metabolite more potent than THC itself.
The 11-OH-THC flows to the bloodstream and reaches the ECS, where it stimulates the CB1 receptors, altering the brain’s pain signal perception by activating feel-good hormones. Although oral cannabinoids have a delayed onset, their nerve pain-relieving effects can last up to 12 hours, depending on dosage and tolerance.
The most important thing to note when purchasing cannabinoids for nerve pain is that delta-9 THC is psychoactive while CBD is non-psychoactive. Therefore, you should manage THC doses carefully to avoid undesirable side effects.
Diminished blood flow to the nerve cells caused by injury or inflammation causes oxygen and nutrient deprivation to nerve cells, leading to nerve pain. However, increasing blood flow to the affected nerve cells helps alleviate nerve pain.
Massage therapy is an effective ancillary therapy to increase blood flow to targeted muscle sites by applying sustained pressure throughout the affected area. Muscle knots and tension put pressure on nerve endings along the muscle and skeletal tissue, causing a painful sensation.
The therapy releases muscle knots and eases muscle tension to facilitate ample blood flow to the nerve endings. Second, massage therapy also induces relaxation, helping alleviate pain-related anxiety symptoms. Third, a study shows that massage therapy induces deep sleep, lowering substance P levels; substance P is a neurotransmitter that modulates pain perception along the spinal cord.
However, multiple massage therapies exist, and not all of them are ideal for neuropathy. Therefore, your specialist should recommend the ideal massage therapy to target the kind of nerve pain you are experiencing.
Moreover, massage therapy is a technical field requiring expert knowledge to avoid aggravating nerve damage. Therefore, only seek massage therapist services from a licensed massage therapist certified by relevant bodies.
Incorporating simple physical exercises into your routine can also help alleviate nerve pain. Physical exercises cause the heart to pump blood faster, improving blood circulation throughout the body.
According to one report, physical exercise reduces nerve pain from spinal cord injury, MS, Parkinson’s, sciatica, diabetes-induced neuropathy, HIV/AIDS, chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, and surgical neuropathy. Moreover, the report recommends simple aerobic exercises like walking, swimming, and cycling and stretch exercises like pilates and yoga to help counter nerve pain. Additionally, motor control exercises like Tai Chi and strength/ resistance training exercises like squats, push-ups, and lifts are also effective.
Therefore, explore your exercise options and choose the physical activity routine compatible with your lifestyle. However, consult your doctor before adding new exercise options to your ancillary neuropathy therapy routine.
Acupuncture is an alternative medical practice originating from Chinese traditional medicine and entails inserting fine needles along specific points on the skin called energy pathways. The practice’s proponents posit that acupuncture triggers energy flow within the body, stimulating the body’s innate healing capacity.
Empirical research on acupuncture shows that the practice stimulates the nerves, leading to enhanced blood flow to the nerve cells. One study to determine acupuncture’s effect on peripheral neuropathy showed that 76% of patients improved symptomatically after acupuncture administration.
A warm bath presents the most cost-effective method for tackling nerve pain. The warm water temperature dilates the blood vessels, causing increased blood flow to the nerves, soothing away pain while inducing relaxation.
Additionally, you can combine a warm bath with the benefits of essential oils like lavender, proven to reduce neuropathic pain intensity. However, monitor water temperature to avoid hot-water burns.
A neuropathic pain diagnosis does not mean you cannot live a wholesome life. Besides your doctor’s primary treatment, you can add one or a combination of the non-medical therapies above to alleviate the pain and improve your wellbeing. However, consult your doctor for specialized ancillary treatments like massages and physical exercise.