These good habits can help ease symptoms of peripheral neuropathy

A healthy diet, movement, and comfy footwear are among the tips

Ezekiel Lim avatar

by Ezekiel Lim |

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My mother-in-law, who has familial amyloid polyneuropathy (FAP), often experiences tingling and burning sensations as well as pain in her hands and feet. Because of that, she must keep them covered at all times. This is the reality of peripheral neuropathy.

She also experiences other symptoms that may be related to FAP or other ailments.

Neuropathy pain might seem to be beyond a patient’s control, but both a patient and their caregiver can adopt good habits to lower the frequency and severity of pain. This is one of the best services a caregiver can provide to improve their loved one’s quality of life.

Changing diet together

A neuropathy-friendly diet, which includes foods that improve a patient’s blood flow, can help. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and lean meats supply vitamins and amino acids, which are good for both blood flow and nerve repair.

One important aspect of a neuropathy-friendly diet is avoiding sugary foods and drinks, including diet soda. One of my mother-in-law’s worst habits is drinking too much diet soda. She has since started drinking more bottled water to counterbalance that, and as a result, has seen an improvement in both her symptoms and overall mobility.

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Avoiding alcohol is another good habit, and thankfully, my mother-in-law doesn’t drink it. In addition to the physical effects alcohol might have on nerves, its effect on cognitive function may lead patients to make poor decisions that put their bodies at risk of further discomfort.

As you may know, changing a diet can be tough emotionally, particularly when life is already hard because of FAP. (Comfort food, anyone?) So, if you’re a caregiver, consider joining your patient in dieting in an act of solidarity, even if it’s only when you eat with them.

Staying active

Remaining inactive is another bad habit that neuropathy patients might lean into, especially when pain makes them want to stay put. Caregivers might find it easy to overlook this because it relieves them of the responsibility of being active, too.

While it might be painful for neuropathy patients to move, staying sedentary might actually worsen neuropathy pain. Periodic movement like taking a few steps or simply moving the legs while seated can help.

If my mother-in-law’s legs or feet are not in pain, she’ll stand up and take a few steps every now and then.

Paying attention to footwear

Neglecting proper footwear is another bad habit that patients and their caregivers may unknowingly have. Comfortable footwear is crucial for patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy because it can decrease pressure on the lower extremities. Caregivers can help patients choose comfortable footwear that is easy to put on and take off. This may relieve the pressure of painful symptoms and help increase circulation.

My mother-in-law mainly wears New Balance walking shoes, which come in wider sizes and provide adequate cushioning and support. If she is experiencing more pain than usual, she’ll wear cushioned moccasins that are easy to slip into and don’t put too much pressure on the foot.

Practicing these habits can help patients stay comfortable, and it creates a framework for providing the best care. As with most things on a rare disease journey, good habits are best tackled with teamwork between caregivers and patients. You might need to change your habits little by little, but eventually, the changes will add up to benefits!

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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