Sleep benefits are important to peripheral neuropathy patients

How my mother-in-law deals with foot pain as we welcome a new child

Ezekiel Lim avatar

by Ezekiel Lim |

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The past month was challenging for my family. My wife and I were expecting the birth of our new child at any moment, according to my wife’s symptoms and her doctors’ words. But at the same time, my mother-in-law was experiencing pain related to peripheral neuropathy, which has resulted from her familial amyloid polyneuropathy.

These symptoms included severe pain in her foot, where she had a dime-sized pressure ulcer, and swelling in her lower extremities because of reactions to steroids and other medication. Her leg pain has been so severe that the limb has begun to jerk. She’s even stopped wearing shoes to lessen the pain. Now she’s been advised to stay off her feet completely; she’s not even able to put her foot on her wheelchair’s rest plate.

My mother-in-law’s pain has become steadily worse since September because of a multitude of issues. She feels she may be having flare-ups of three symptoms at once. I’ll get more information regarding her treatment plan, including if it’ll require surgery of some sort, within the next few weeks.

In the meantime, my wife and I are adjusting to being the parents of two children since the birth of our second daughter. It’s a rough time for us as we welcome a new child while my mother-in-law is having such pain.

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How sleep helps

To ease her pain, my mother-in-law feels it’s helpful to take naps whenever she can because sleep gives her a reprieve from her flare-ups. Patients experiencing peripheral neuropathy pain often find that sleep helps alleviate discomfort in their hands and feet. It may be that good sleeping habits help patients condition their minds and bodies to forget about their pain, but sleep may also help the body heal.

Caregivers must help ensure that their patients get seven to eight hours of sleep at night, if possible. They should help patients ready themselves for bed by ensuring they eat well for dinner (nonspicy, easy-to-digest foods are key), take their medications, and drink their last fluids about two to three hours before bedtime. They also shouldn’t bombard themselves with too much screen time before bed.

For patients who wear a CPAP machine, it’s important that the mask isn’t too restrictive and that the patient’s head is elevated to a comfortable position. Caregivers should also ensure that patients with sleep apnea aren’t lying flat on their backs when sleeping.

Daily naps, sometimes multiple times a day, may also help. My mother-in-law insists on making them part of her daily routine to help herself feel better as she suffers these setbacks. In her case, keeping her feet comfortable, elevated, and out of tight footwear helps her feel comfortable before napping. Care must be taken to ensure naps don’t make night sleep difficult, however.

Conversely, the quality of those naps may be affected by how much the person sleeps at night, what they’re eating, and how much their pain is flaring up.

Comfort, a good diet, and medication adherence can help the patient get the rest they need so they can ease painful setbacks from their neuropathy.


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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to familial amyloid polyneuropathy.

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