How Stress May Worsen Peripheral Neuropathy Pain

Ezekiel Lim avatar

by Ezekiel Lim |

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Stress is a difficult part of everyday life. Whether it’s work-related, health-related, or the result of factors outside of our control, chronic stress may be dangerous for people with peripheral neuropathy symptoms.

For familial amyloid polyneuropathy patients, chronic stress may adversely affect peripheral nerves, potentially worsening the numbness, burning, and tingling sensations that the condition causes to the skin and peripheral joints.

Research published in 2017 notes that chronic stress may worsen neuropathic pain. As stress comes in many different forms with seemingly regular frequency, alleviating it should be a priority for neuropathy patients, their caregivers, friends, and family.

Many stressors exist in my family that might exacerbate my mother-in-law’s neuropathic pain. Some external stressors include a perceived lack of support, conflicting schedules among family members, the cost of peripheral neuropathy treatments, and large groups of people in the house during family gatherings. To reduce the amount of stress she experiences, family members are mindful of how their interactions may have a positive or negative effect on her. 

Stress may affect neuropathy patients in the following ways:

Changes in eating habits

Some people may change their eating habits when stressed. They may respond to stress by binge eating or indulging in salty snacks and junk foods, which may have a negative impact on the body, potentially restricting blood flow. If a patient is prone to eating significantly less when stressed, the body could become deficient in nutrients causing irritation to peripheral nerves. Patients and caregivers should be mindful of how stress may affect a person’s diet.

Detachment from social circles

As peripheral neuropathy symptoms worsen, patients may withdraw from friends and family because they may feel that their presence puts a burden on others, forcing them to do things at a slower pace. In these situations, caregivers, friends, and family must maintain regular contact with the patient. Not only does a support circle help people with physical needs, it may help them to incorporate positivity into their mental well-being.

Mood swings

Patients under mental duress may be prone to experiencing mood swings. With physical health causing pain, it may be easy for patients to ruminate on feelings ranging from irritability to sadness. Regular contact with a support circle or community is essential. An encouraging word from a friend or a loved one may help them shift toward a more positive mood, potentially helping the body to reach a more relaxed state.

Some practical methods for alleviating stress in neuropathy patients include massage therapy, spending time outdoors, and exercise. Patients should be mindful of how their body feels before starting a new routine, but reducing the impact of external stressors may help to ease the effects on peripheral nerves.

What do you do to relieve stress? Please share in the comments below. 

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Note: FAP News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of FAP News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.

Comments

Roma Sohn avatar

Roma Sohn

the isolation due to Covid 19 has made everything worse. My daughter wont let me go shopping because of my age. I am getting very depressed. All the activites I used to enjoy have been cut short I find it difficult to keep from oversleeping. There is just so much phone conversation/TV watching etc that can keep me engaged. I read a lot, but that also is tiring I understand that many people feel as I do.

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Gisele Guerrasio Sanders avatar

Gisele Guerrasio Sanders

For stress relief I do 20 minutes on the floor with my yoga mat - spinal twists are especially helpful. Next, I use my new elliptical machine (not going back to the dirty gym) for 15 to 20 minutes. Every morning begins with Vipassana Meditation - my most helpful tool for stress relief. Close your eyes and focus on your breath. When you find your mind wandering, smilingly bring it back to the breath.

Never fails!

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Migdalia Aguilar avatar

Migdalia Aguilar

Since March of 2015 my brother has had an unknown neurological disorder. In spite of numerous tests & exams the actual disorder is unknown. He has Ataxia, Parkinson's symptoms, peripheral neuropathy & possibly Sjogren's Syndrome. He has no balance & must use a walker at all times while moving. For a year & half he was severely depressed, wouldn't talk, slept a lot & refused to eat. He had a flat affect. Emotionally he has improved & his condition is somewhat stable. We take walks every other day. Recently I bought him a Cubii Elliptical exercise machine that he has been using daily for 20 min. This has further improved his mood. He is happy he still has the ability to exercise on the Cubii. He watches the Game Show Network & likes the challenge of trivia facts. When watching the game shows, he uses his thinking ability & is not focused on himself because he sees himself as the contestant. He laughs, smiles & is proud when he knows the answer. He works on "Word Hunt" puzzles; upon solving a puzzle, he experiences joy. He loves murder mystery programs & tries to solve the murder case before the show ends. I got him a puzzle book titled "Cold Case Puzzles" where he is the Lead Detective attempting to solve the murder. Photograph clues & written clues are given to the Detective to solve each murder case.

I believe the following activities has helped his emotional & depressive condition: The Cubii Elliptical, walking, Trivia Game shows & Word Puzzles. These productive activities give him a feeling of usefulness. Additionally, I encourage him to practice an attitude of gratitude; to focus on the good in his life. I remind him that it's a wonderful life even though there are difficulties & challenges.

Exercising, feeling useful, Joy, laughter, peace & having an attitude of gratitude relieves stress. And as for myself, I believe my faith has helped me to be a more compassionate caregiver. It has given me the ability to deal with the stress of being a caregiver.

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Dick Chambers avatar

Dick Chambers

Does peripherial neuropathy get worse as one ages?

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Rebecca avatar

Rebecca

Years ago I had a procedure that damaged, burnt nerve endings and ended up w peripheral leg neuropathy. At first the pain was intolerable I was put on Neurotin w no relief then Lyrica sometimes pain was tolerable others not. Now I hav a torn rotator cuff injury w surgery scheduled next week and my leg pain just has been exacerbated since the injury. I have appointment scheduled at pain clinic 9/14 is there anything I can suggest to them? Seems they have run out of ideas.

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Marcia Alexandra Plevin avatar

Marcia Alexandra Plevin

It is 16 years since the polyneuropathy - motor - sensitive assonale diagnosis. It has worsened and effects primarily my feet, calves and thighs. I am now 75. My greatest fear is NOT to be able to move. That is what keeps me centered and balanced through the chronic stress. I am a former professional contemporary dancer who became a dance movement therapist at 40. NOTHING, no pills, accupuncture, hypnosis or even the martial arts works to keep me resilient. What does is a " mix" of dancing to inspiring music as I stretch, flex, bounce, shake, isometrically push and pull on walls , chairs anything that will hold my weight, At least 40 minute a day. THAT and getting out to walk or swim in nature I truly deeply hope each and every one of you finds what works for you.

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Diane Denney Dent avatar

Diane Denney Dent

I appreciate this site and will use it in future

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