The holidays should be a time of joy and celebration, no matter who you are or what personal health challenges you may be facing. That being said, there’s no denying that those who struggle with neuropathic pain have some extra challenges and obstacles they must deal with at this time of year.
This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! It just means you may need to take some wise precautions in order to get through the New Year as comfortably as possible. And fortunately, few if any of the things on this list should be “brand new” to you. All you need is a few reminders and some solid discipline!
So without further ado, here are our holiday “survival tips” for those dealing with neuropathic pain.
Watch What You Eat
This is, of course, true all year long for people with neuropathy and other forms of neuropathic pain. But maintaining discipline can be especially tricky this time of year with so many delicious temptations.
As always, it’s about setting reasonable limits and sticking to them. We’re not saying you can’t enjoy a festive meal. But if you have nerve issues, it’s especially important not to go overboard on carbs. That can cause blood sugar to rise (with or without a diabetes diagnosis) and damage your nerves over time.
For most of us, it’s about portion control. You can enjoy some of a carb-heavy dish, or a couple of cookies, but they should represent only a quarter to a third of your plate at most. Balance it with healthy portions of leafy, non-starchy veggies—ideally those that haven’t been cooked in tons of butter or oil.
If you have any control over the food prep, consider using healthier oils (and slightly less of them) in order to cut down the stress on your nerves.
Keep Yourself Moving
The holidays are a great time to sit back and relax a bit. But for those with nerve troubles, keeping the blood flowing to the legs and feet is especially important—particularly after a big meal.
You definitely don’t have to run a 5K or go all out at the gym if your body isn’t conditioned to handle that kind of strain. Even taking a 10-minute walk after a meal can not only help ease any guilt you might feel after eating too much mashed potatoes, but can help you prevent or reduce nerve pain symptoms, too.
For your regular exercise, shoot for at least 30 minutes of safe cardio at least three times per week. This doesn’t necessarily have to be overly intense or difficult—power walking will fit the bill, as will taking a bike ride or going for a swim.
This is just a baseline, though. If you are in good shape and already used to vigorous exercise, you can do more! The point is to not make sudden, dramatic changes in your routines—either an increase or a decrease. Speaking of …
Maintain Your Nerve Care Routines
Once you fall out of an established habit or routine, it can be notoriously difficult to get back into the groove. You might think, “It’s the holidays; I can cheat.” Unfortunately, this often leads to problems.
So keep up the good work you’re already doing! (Or, if you haven’t been maintaining healthy habits already, make it an early New Year’s resolution and get started today.) For example:
- Check your feet thoroughly every day. People with nerve pain don’t always notice right away when injuries or sores develop, and those can quickly lead to more serious problems if not promptly addressed.
- Take time to stretch every day. Simple stretches when you get out of bed, before and after exercise, and every hour or two throughout the day boosts circulation and can help keep nerve pain to a minimum.
- Wear your socks and shoes, even indoors. That extra protection can be crucial. This is especially true if you’ve been prescribed custom orthotics or therapeutic shoes.
- Continue taking any supplements you’ve been given. We often recommend nutrition supplements packed with nutrients essential for healthy nerve function, including B vitamins, folic acid, and more. Keep taking them—and if you run out, call us. We’re happy to do curbside pickup to keep any health risks low.
Don’t Avoid Seeking Care If You Need It
Nerve pain is never something that you should ignore. Compared to most other tissues in the body, nerves have relatively limited capacity to heal and regenerate. Delaying necessary care can (and often does) lead to long-term or even permanent loss of sensation and nerve function.
If you’d like more information on how to better manage your nerve pain and maintain a healthier, more active lifestyle, please request and download a copy of our FREE nerve pain guidebook, A Guide to Understanding Foot and Ankle Nerve Pain. It’s a quick read, and it’s packed with critical info about nerve conditions, treatment options, and preventative care strategies. You’ll want to keep this around and refer to it as needed!
And if you haven’t seen a doctor yet about tingling, numbness, pain, or other signs of nerve trouble—or symptoms have gotten worse since the last time you came in—please give us a call. Dr. Thomajan is one of Texas’s leading peripheral nerve experts, and our office is equipped with many of the most sophisticated tools available to both diagnose and treat peripheral nerve conditions, including Neurogenx, MLS laser therapy, and more.
Don’t wait until after the holidays! The sooner you act, the better for your long-term nerve health. You can reach our Austin office at (512) 328-8900, or by requesting an appointment online.