How Stress May Worsen Peripheral Neuropathy Pain

Ezekiel Lim avatar

by Ezekiel Lim |

Share this article:

Share article via email
spoon theory

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. 


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.