Do you have nerve pain? Is it simply uncomfortable or is it unbearable? Well, you should not have to deal with pain at all, whether uncomfortable or unbearable.
Like any type of pain, depending on the person and the injury, the level of nerve pain varies. Many describe their nerve pains with such words as “burning, sharp, tingling, stabbing”, and for others, it feels like pins and needles. Why is this and how can we help to calm this pain?
What Nerves Can Be Damaged?
- Autonomic Nerves
Our autonomic nerves are the nerves that control all the movements inside of our bodies that we don’t think about. These movements include our heartbeats, maintenance of internal body temperature, breathing, digestion, and blood pressure.
- Motor Nerves
Our motor nerves are the nerves that send and pick up signals from our brains to our limbs. Things like walking and chewing are examples of these signals that get passed.
- Sensory Nerves
Our sensory nerves are exactly what they sound like, they are the nerves that help us to feel things on our skin. We feel burning, the feeling of our clothes against our skin, and the wind blowing against us, just as a few examples.
How To Determine If You Have Nerve Pain
Our nerve function helps us to feel things so it can be difficult to tell if you have nerve pain or damage or if you are simply feeling normal pain. By looking at the right symptoms, we can determine if what you are feeling is nerve pain.
Here is a list of the symptoms to be on the lookout for:
- Heightened Sensitivity - any touch, even the slightest pressure, can feel painful and irritating
- Sharp or Stabbing Pain - a burning or sharp sensation in the same location or general area of your body
- Weakness - weak or even disabled muscles can be the cause of nerve damage
What Caused the Nerve Damage?
When drinking too much alcohol, numerous problems can occur, one of which is nerve damage. When consuming alcohol in large amounts, you are cutting off certain signals to your brain. You are also affecting certain nutrient levels that you need to function and if you do this too often, it can cause your nerves to be altered forever.
By staying away from considerable amounts of alcohol, you are doing yourself--and your nerves--a huge favor.
When one has a limb amputated, the nerves are cut off as well. When our bodies are used to sending signals to a certain area of the body, they do not usually stop sending those signals. Without the limb there, the signal, obviously, does not get to where it needs to be.
Without the limb there to accept the signal, the amputee gets what is called “phantom limb pain”. Because the brain remembers what pain is, our brains interpret the lack of signal response as pain.
Leg, Back, and Hip Issues
Our spines are essentially the “railroads” of our bodies. The spinal nervous system is what carries the signals from our brains to the rest of our body. When a part of our spine is injured, that takes away the path for the signals to run on. Sciatica is when one of your spine’s discs pinches the sciatic nerve which travels through our buttocks down through our legs.
Chemotherapy is an easily understood cause when it comes to strange and painful things happening to our bodies. With all of the chemicals and toxins entering our bodies to help to kill whatever disease there is, it unfortunately ends up affecting other parts of our bodies and causing pain.
Diabetes can cause uncomfortable pain and tingling in typically our feet when it causes nerve damage. Diabetes nerve damage occurs because when our blood sugar rises, it puts stress on the insides of our bodies, including our nerves.
Facial Nerve Problems
Facial nerve problems are better known as “trigeminal neuralgia”. These are caused by the trigeminal nerve, the nerve that is one of the largest nerves in our heads and is the nerve that senses all of the pressure around our heads and skin.
Like most viruses and illnesses, HIV and AIDS can potentially lead to pain in the body and nerve damage, especially when it comes to the medications that these patients are put on. With most viruses, there is inflammation happening and inflammation can lead to pressure on our nerves and in turn lead to nerve damage.
Those affected by multiple sclerosis say that they feel pins and needles and tingling. These are all signs of nerve damage.
While shingles are a fairly common problem to have, if not treated properly, it can result in long lasting nerve pain resulting from damage the virus does to our nerves.
Dietary Supplements To Help Ease Nerve Pain
Many of us with nerve pain may already be in some sort of therapy or taking some sort of medication for the pain. There are some supplements that could help to ease that pain and make it more bearable. Keep in mind, severe nerve damage is largely irreversible, so curing the damage and pain permanently when severe damage is present is unfortunately impossible.
These supplements may be able to help you go about your daily activities with greater relief. Be advised, any herbs, supplements and medications that you are taking together might interfere with one another and cause issues, so always check with your doctor.
Vitamins in the B family can really help to ease nerve pain. Studies have even shown that B vitamins have the possibility to help heal nerve damage. This has not been done yet, but with the right amount of work, it could be possible.
Because B vitamins specifically support our nerve systems, they are one of the best supplements to help with nerve pain. In fact, a deficiency in B vitamins can actually cause nerve damage, so getting enough is particularly important.
The B vitamins that we could be taking are as follows:
- Vitamin B-1 (thiamine and benfotiamine)
- Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine)
- Vitamin B-12 (cobalamin)
B-6 is the B vitamin that will help to cover nerve endings and therefore not leave them open and exposed inside our bodies.
There are also foods to be eating to increase B vitamin intake if you do not wish to take a supplement.
The foods with the most amounts of B vitamins are meat, poultry, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy products, and vegetables.
By eating these foods, or taking a supplement, we can help our nerve pain to slowly subside. Keep in mind, though, even though B vitamins are obviously good for us, taking too much can do harm. Taking more than 200 milligrams in total can actually have the opposite effect and instead of helping with the nerve pain, it can actually cause nerve damage.
Another nutrient that can help to ease the pain of nerve damage is alpha-lipoic acid. This acid is an antioxidant that helps to lower blood sugar and is known to relieve uncomfortable symptoms in our legs and arms specifically.
When taking this supplement, try to aim for between 600 and 1,200 milligrams a day. There are again foods that can help you to get that dosage in. Red meat, liver, broccoli, spinach, Brussel sprouts, and brewers yeast are some things you can stock up on to get 600-1,200 mg of alpha-lipoic acid a day.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is another supplement that can change the way that nerve pain affects us. Acetyl-L-carnitine is an antioxidant and amino acid that creates strong nerve cells and can increase energy.
Taking 500 milligrams twice a day is recommended. Foods that include acetyl-l-carnitine are meats, fish, poultry, and dairy products.
Turmeric, a common cooking spice, has an active ingredient called curcumin that can be used as a nerve pain supplement for anti-inflammatory purposes. It is also an antioxidant that can help to relieve when we have numbness or tingling in our hands and feet.
While there is no set food that contains curcumin, you can make meals or snacks that contain turmeric. Things like curry, egg salads, and smoothies most commonly contain curcumin from turmeric.
Curcumin can also be taken in a supplement form, making it easy to get the full recommended dose. Look for a supplement that includes a highly absorbable form of curcumin, because it can be difficult for your body to absorb on its own.
Fish oil is known to have numerous benefits in our bodies. Millions of Americans take fish oil daily, and with good reason. Fish oil can help to give relief to our muscle soreness or pain and can help with nerve repair.
It is good to take anywhere between 2,400 and 5,400 milligrams a day. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 helps reduce pain and improve the overall discomfort of nerve pain. Luckily omega-3s are in a lot of foods.
Salmon, walnuts, sardines, canola oil, chia seeds, flaxseeds, mackerel, cod liver oil, herring, oysters, anchovies, caviar, and soybean are all good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
If seafood is not your thing, it can also be taken in a supplement form. Fish oil pills can cause “fishy burps” so make sure to find one that will not give off an unpleasant aftertaste.
Supplements vs. Medication
If these supplements work so well to help ease nerve pain and damage, should we then be taking supplements instead of medications? Both medications and supplements work very well, just in their own ways.
Medications might help to ease the pain more temporarily. Things like painkillers are not designed to last for a long time, so we have to continue to take lots of medications to help ourselves feel better.
Supplements, while maybe not as immediately effective as medications, may be more effective long term. These supplements and vitamins are things that are already inside of our bodies and when we take a supplement or vitamin, we are simply building up that specific vitamin or antioxidant.
Our bodies are designed to fight for themselves and by taking these vitamins and supplements, we are strengthening our insides to do what they are supposed to do.
In conclusion, what are the best supplements to take for nerve pain and nerve damage? B vitamins, alpha-lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine, curcumin, and fish oil are the best supplements to take.
Be wary of taking these things with other painkillers and herbs. Talk to your doctor about how it may affect your body when used all together.
We all need to be sure to be eating the right foods that will give us the vitamins and minerals that we need to help our bodies function and ease pain on their own, as they were made to do.