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How to Use Meditation for Chronic Neuropathy Treatment

Chronic neuropathy treatment can be supported with meditation—and it doesn’t have to be fancy, structured, or even spiritual in nature. Here’s a list of 5 ways to begin a meditation practice today on your own, for free.

When you think of meditation, do you picture a very serene-looking monk sitting cross-legged on a cushion? Or maybe a young man or woman in yoga gear on a cliff by the ocean? Maybe you’ve heard that there’s only one right way to meditate, and you’d need to watch a DVD or attend a class to find out how.

Well I have great news for you! The truth is that you don’t need a class, a DVD, or a perfect body to meditate. You don’t even have to sit on a cushion on the floor. Best of all, meditating is so easy, you can start today.

Here are 5 kinds of meditation that don’t require any kind of training. You can start with just 5 or 10 minutes each day.

1. Sitting meditation

Sitting doesn’t have to mean sitting on a cushion. You can sit upright in any chair that is comfortable for you. The key factor is in having appropriate posture. Think of your head as a balloon that is rising toward the ceiling on a string; let it float over your shoulders. Now think of having a strong, upright back and an open, receiving heart. Sit in this way for 5 to 10 minutes and just notice any thoughts or feelings that arise, like clouds floating by in the sky.

2. Walking meditation

This is a special way of walking that holds less danger of repetitive stress, because you won’t cover much ground in 5 minutes. It might more accurately be called balancing meditation. Simply slow down each step and notice every aspect of it: shifting your weight onto one foot, letting the other foot rise forward, contacting the ground, shifting your weight again. Then repeat on the other side. It’s just like walking, but at a glacial pace that allows you to really notice the sensations of movement and balance.

3. Meditating in bed

For those who find sitting or walking meditation too painful due to neuropathy symptoms, the wonderful thing to know about meditation is that you can do it in any position—even lying down. (The Buddha himself said so!) The key practice isn’t your body position, although it’s best to be in a posture that allows for effective breathing. Instead, the key is in noticing sensations and thoughts and simply allowing them to pass by without judgment.

4. Mindfully doing a creative act

Meditation doesn’t even have to happen in stillness. It’s possible to engage in a daily meditative practice involving any creative act, such as cooking or creating music. Again, the key to a meditative practice is in being fully aware in each moment of how you are feeling, what you’re thinking, and what judgments are arising about the situation. If you find that your attention drifts, just gently bring it back to this moment.

5. Mindfully completing any household chore

Finally, meditation works with any activity, regardless of its nature. The dullest of household chores can be a form of meditation if they are done mindfully—that is, with your attention on sensation and awareness. For example, when you are washing the dishes after dinner, spend those 10 minutes noticing how the soapy water feels on your hands and being aware of the pattern of your breathing.

Meditation of any kind can be an effective stress relief and a self-help supplement for your chronic neuropathy treatment.

For more information on coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscribe to our newsletters at http://neuropathydr.com.

Do you have Pain, Neuropathy, and Stress?

If we already suffer from a painful condition like peripheral neuropathy, stress makes it worse.

As a reader of this column, you already understand the relationship between diet, lifestyle, and your health.

You probably already know to that inflammation and “inflammatory states”, even at microscopic level, can cause a whole host of human illnesses, ranging from arthritis to cancer and heart disease.

The more inflammation we suffer, the more pain and disease we can endure. This is also why we are continually writing about easily correctable factors such as diet, certain supplements, adequate water intake, etc.

A key component of health is stress management. Stress is something that all human beings deal with on a daily basis. Some of us are confronted with enormous periods of stress and remain healthy.

But we all have our limits. Sooner or later, our bodies experience breakdown. And if we already suffer from a painful condition like peripheral neuropathy, stress makes it worse. But why is this so?

We know that inflammatory diets, such as those high in sugar, can aggravate pain, as can our environments, physical activity, and a many other external factors.

Scientists have finally made the connection between stress and pain.

A research team at Carnegie Mellon Institute in Philadelphia discovered that stress significantly affects our body’s ability to regulate inflammation.

Not only can stress affect hormone production, but it can affect the way our immune cells and immune system response to attacks by things like viruses.

And, everybody knows, inflammation causes pain!

For example, how bad does a sunburn or deep scratch hurt? When you look at these, you notice the swelling, redness ,and sometimes extreme discoloration. These are all signs of inflammation.

If we are relatively healthy, our bodies will respond relatively quickly. Within two weeks we never knew anything happened.

But what happens if you can’t control inflammation properly?

That scratch or sunburn may worsen, or could develop a serious complication like an infection. We all know how badly they can hurt.

So, when inflammation is not regulated properly internally, our pain levels will increase; we are more predisposed to everything from the common cold to more significant illness and disease. The longer this goes on, the worse it becomes.

It’s been said that the first step to improvement is knowledge, so in our upcoming posts we’ll talk about some practical stress management techniques for those who suffer from many forms of pain and, of course, peripheral neuropathy.

For more information on coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscribe to our newsletters at http://neuropathydr.com.

Handling The Holiday Stress

Pay particular attention to your body during the holidays, especially if you have neuropathy or chronic pain!

Healthy eating woman

Even for the healthy, the holidays can be incredibly stressful.

Some surveys have even found that people are more stressed by the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas than by asking the boss for a raise!

But when you have:

  • Diabetes
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Post-Chemotherapy neuropathy

Since you now have the stress of the holidays to deal with too, your health could take a serious beating—that will take you months to recover from.

Here are some steps you can take to make the holidays (and the months following them) a little easier to deal with:

1. Understand How Stress Affects Your Body

Stress (both mental and physical) causes the body to release hormones that prompt the liver to secrete glucose. That can wreak havoc on your blood glucose levels if you suffer from diabetes. In Type 2 diabetics, stress can also block the release of insulin from the pancreas and leave that extra insulin floating around in the bloodstream. In Type 1 diabetes, the effects are a little different. Some Type 1 diabetics say that stress drives their glucose up, while others maintain that stress drives their glucose down. Either way, your energy levels are wrecked. On a good day, that can be difficult to deal with. At the holidays, it can be pure misery.

If you are feeling stressed and your energy is especially low, you are less likely to pay attention to your glucose levels, or eat as you know you should. Pay particular attention to your body during the holidays, and Handling The Holiday “Stress-a-Thon”

2. Do What You Can To Reduce Mental Stress

Many of the things that stress us at the holidays are easy to manage or control. Make your life as easy as possible during this trying time.

If traffic really works your nerves, leave home a little earlier or try getting to work by a different route and avoid the areas that are particularly congested.

If your boss is a nightmare, plan to take vacation around the holidays if at all possible, and give yourself a mental break.

Volunteer to help with the holiday activities of a local charity. Doing something good for someone else is a wonderful way to make someone else’s life better and make you feel good at the same time.

Resolve to start a new exercise program, learn a new skill, or start a hobby as soon as the holidays are over. Enlist a friend to do it with you so you can encourage each other. Giving yourself a goal and something to look forward to after the grind of the holidays is over will do wonders for your state of mind.

3. How Do You Cope?

Everyone has a coping style. Some people are the take-charge type and take steps immediately to solve their problems. Other people just accept the problem, recognize that they can’t fix it, acknowledge that it’s probably not as bad as it could be, and go their merry way. Still, others are hand wringers and feel perpetually out of control.

The take-chargers and accepters have less problems with stress, both at the holidays and on a daily basis—as a result, their blood glucose levels don’t become elevated.

4. Relax…

One of the most useful things you will ever learn (diabetic or not) is to relax. For many, the ability to relax is not natural, but it can be learned. Some ways to help you relax are:

Breathing Exercises
Sit down or lie down without your arms or legs crossed. Inhale deeply. Push as much air as possible out of your lungs. Repeat the process but , this time, relax your muscles while you exhale. Start with this exercise for 5 minutes at a time and increase your time until you’re practicing breathing at least 20 minutes at a time, once a day.

Progressive Relaxation Therapy
Tense your muscles then relax them. Lie still and repeat the process for 5 minutes at a time, at least once a day.

Exercise
We can’t say enough about the benefits of exercise. As we’ve said before, you don’t have to run a marathon to get the stress-reducing benefits of exercise. You can walk or stretch, too.

Watch Your Mindset
When it comes to reducing stress, a lot can be said for the power of positive thinking. It’s really easy to let your mind overwhelm you this time of year…

“I’ll never get it all done…”

“What if they don’t like what I give them?”

“Oh man, I have to spend time with my brother again this year…”

Just watch your mindset and you can eliminate much of the stress of the holiday season. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Say a prayer or recite a poem or a quote that makes you feel good. Think of something that makes you happy. It may sound trite, but go to your happy place.

Choose one or more of these methods to relax and do it daily. Relaxing doesn’t come naturally to us, but we can definitely learn to do it with practice, and the health benefits are beyond measure.

Face the fact that many holiday stressors are not going away. The relative you don’t get along with, the traffic, the never-ending list of things to do will always be there.

But you can learn to manage the holiday stress. And if you can learn to manage holiday stress, just think of what you can do the rest of the year.

Talk to your local NeuropathyDR™ doctor or physical therapist to explore ways to handle the holiday stress and make it a healthier and more enjoyable experience this—and every—year, even with neuropathy or chronic pain!

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Neuropathy and Fatigue

In neuropathy, fatigue can be the result of pain, and emotional stress.

One of the things many neuropathy patients tell us is how tired they can feel form day to day. Now, fatigue is common in many health conditions and should never be taken lightly.

For example, profound fatigue with weight loss can be a sign of several diseases, including cancer.

Diabetics often report fatigue, as do those patients with anemia and simple over work and inadequate sleep.

In neuropathy, fatigue can be the result of pain, and emotional stress.

Sometimes it’s from the diseases that may have caused your neuropathy.

But one of the things we observed a few years back on is that when treating neuropathy patients who suffer from the most common types we see (sensory, due to diabetes, metabolic syndrome and chemotherapy) is that when good neuropathy treatment begins, fatigue starts to vanish too!

And we even find patients with more serious forms of neuropathy improved as well, though more slowly and not as completely.

You see, we know that in the most common forms of neuropathy, energy production by the body in general, and the nerve cells in particular is poor. I theorized early on that therapies that can boost metabolism or how our bodies efficiently “burn” fuel will very often help neuropathy patients regain function.

These therapies include some food compounds, supplements and exercise, as well as therapies like laser and microcurrent which help individual cells produce ATP, which is the energy powerhouse behind every living cell!

And as a side benefit, we see our diabetic and obese patients losing significant weight, and some dropping their blood sugars significantly and thus need for medications.

So here is the best news of all: When patients engage in neuropathy treatment programs that handle all the key pieces they can, fatigue fades away and energy and a profound sense of wellbeing return to many neuropathy patients!

For more information visit us at NeuropathyDR.com

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Treating Chronic Pain with TLC: Why Emotional Support is SO Vital (and How to Ask for the Help You Need)

Don’t go it alone. Here’s why accepting support from family and friends is so important in treating chronic pain.Fotolia 5256891 XS 300x200 Treating Chronic Pain with TLC: Why Emotional Support is  SO Vital (and How to Ask for the Help You Need)

Although it may be a shocking idea, your personal support network may be equally as important to your health as your medical treatment team—or any kind of supplemental therapies.

Why? Because the bottom line is that a positive outlook is the best medicine for good health outcomes. If you are feeling contented and supported in your personal relationships, you’ll be much better equipped to cope with pain when it arises.

Unfortunately, many people find it hard to ask for help from their family and friends. We may have heard the message that it was weak or shameful to be dependent on others.

The truth is that when we are able to accept love and support, we’re better equipped to be as independent as possible in our daily lives.

Make a list of people in your life who have helped you in big and small ways in the past, as well as people that would probably be willing to help now if you were to ask.

Now, think about the things that are making your life the most difficult or stressful right now. This list could be anything from a leaky faucet in your kitchen to a pile of medical bills. Just get it all down on paper.

Finally, begin matching the list of stress points with the list of helpers in your life. Who could come over and fix that leaky faucet for you? Who could help you make phone calls to arrange a payment plan for those bills?

You will find that most of the people on your list are grateful for a chance to help you—they just didn’t know what to do that would be truly helpful. And when your stress level decreases (now that the leaky faucet or pile of bills is a thing of the past), your overall health will be optimized. That means chronic pain becomes less of a burden because you’re better able to cope with it.

Building your support network is just one way that you can take control of your own health and overcome chronic pain. Learn more by visiting our Facebook page.

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Neuropathy and Sleep Problems

Sleep Problems are Common among Neuropathy Patients. Here’s What You Can Do to Make It Better.

Sleep disturbances aren’t unusual for most people during times of stress or illness. But people with neuropathy tend to experience sleep problems more often, and in a more severe way, than the general population.

You may have already experienced how a lack of sufficient restful sleep can negatively impact your daily function. It can also be detrimental to your long-term health and quality of life.

If you’re not getting enough restful sleep, your body’s major systems just aren’t able to recharge like they need to in order to combat neuropathy symptoms. You’ll be noticing more and more weight gain, fatigue, depression, and chronic pain over time as you continue losing sleep.

It’s so important to share information about your sleep problems with your neuropathy specialist, who can build sleep adjustment into your overall treatment plan.

You can also make lifestyle changes starting right away to help improve your sleep quality and reduce neuropathy symptoms. Daily movement or exercise, preferably outdoors for the addition of vitamin D from sunlight, is very important for neuropathy sufferers with insomnia. Stress reduction is another key to healthy sleep to supplement your neuropathy treatment. Make sure to also get enough water and eat foods from a healthy neuropathy diet. Some patients (those without kidney disease) may want to ask their doctors about magnesium supplements.

Another option is the daily use of our home care kit featuring an FDA-approved electrotherapy neurostimulator. By reducing tingling and other symptoms that can distract you from sleep, this daily care program can get help you get more Z’s on a regular basis. The NDGen Home Care Kit also offers automatic shut-off and a timer so that you can safely use it while drifting off to sleep. Take a look at our NDGen neuropathy home care kit.

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4 Gentle Exercises for Reducing Neuropathy Symptoms

You Can Reduce Neuropathy Symptoms Through Appropriate Movement, Even If Exercise Usually Tends to Be Painful.

Even if your neuropathy symptoms leave you feeling like it’s impossible to exercise…

There ARE ways to get moving and stay active while supporting your neuropathy treatment needs.

Your doctor will tell you that gentle, appropriate exercise will help you maintain a healthier weight, improve your cardiovascular health, strengthen your bones, manage your blood sugar levels, and even help to ward off depression and anxiety.

The best exercise for reducing neuropathy symptoms is focused on gentle, fluid movement that isn’t jarring or overly taxing. Here are a few types of gentle exercise that you may want to consider as part of an overall treatment plan for neuropathy symptoms.

  • Stretching is a basic but essential way to keep your body limber despite neuropathy symptoms. Try to develop a self-directed program of stretches that you do each day before getting out of bed as well as a few stretches to help you unwind before bed.
  • Tai Chi is a type of martial art that involves very slowly and deliberately working each of the muscle groups in your body. It is considered a very gentle form of exercise that can also improve your circulation and improve mood.
  • Some types of yoga are appropriate for people with neuropathy symptoms. Look for a class or video that is called “gentle” or “restorative” yoga. You don’t need to be particularly flexible or limber to participate in yoga and can move at your own pace.
  • Swimming or a gentle version of water aerobics are both great movement choices for anyone who has difficulty or pain from walking. The support of warm water can help to loosen up your body and support your joints, as well as reducing pressure on your feet.

Be sure to talk with your doctor before undergoing any change in your activity level.

For more tips on reducing neuropathy symptoms, see our neuropathy owners manual: I Beat Neuropathy!

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Neuropathy Treatment Includes Treating Anxiety and Depression

Does Your Neuropathy Treatment Plan Address Underlying Anxiety and Depression?

Most patients in neuropathy treatment are dealing with more than just physical symptoms. Depression and anxiety are extremely common among those struggling with the various forms of neuropathy. That’s because neuropathy is a global condition that affects your nervous system in addition to the emotional stress brought on by any major medical condition.

Whether you are newly diagnosed and not sure where to turn, or already in the care of a highly trained neuropathy treatment clinician, it’s not unusual for anxiety or depression to be a daily part of your life.

But there is help. In addition to talking honestly with your doctor about these difficulties, you can take action right away to help yourself heal from the anxiety and depression that comes with neuropathy treatment.

The first step is to identify what you can’t control in the course of your neuropathy treatment, as well as what you CAN control. Make an effort to let go of those things that are out of your reach and trust your neuropathy doctor to competently follow the neuropathy treatment plan you have outlined together.

Make a list of the things you do have control over. Most likely this includes all the things you can do at home:

  • Nutrition
  • Movement and appropriate exercise
  • Relaxation exercises
  • Reducing stress in your environment
  • Spiritual practices such as meditation or prayer
  • Bringing joy into your life through family and friend relationships, pets, new hobbies, etc.
  • Prioritizing your physical and emotional needs first, especially if you are in a caregiver role

Although self care at home for anxiety and depression is a vital part of neuropathy treatment, make sure you aren’t trying to go it alone. Talk with your doctor today about getting the support you need for depression or anxiety symptoms.

If your current doctor is not trained in current approaches to neuropathy treatment including complementary therapies, click here to locate a NeuropathyDR® specialist near you.

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Are You Incorporating LED As Part of Your Neuropathy Treatment?

LED Use is Growing as a Neuropathy Treatment—Here’s Why.

LED stands for “light emitting diodes,” and it’s a modality that has been around for many years now. We have evolved from treating wounds and diseases with simple exposure to sunlight beginning centuries ago, to providing targeted light energy to heal specific types of pain and illness by penetrating the body’s tissues with light particles.

In terms of neuropathy treatment, LED technology is capable of stimulating greater efficiency of the body’s processes at a cellular level. In short, this means improving metabolism.

Our main focus from 2008 has been treating peripheral neuropathy through metabolic stimulation. We’ve used electrotherapy and LED therapy to accomplish this.

The NeuropathyDR approach combines many different neuropathy treatment modalities that have been shown to be effective in reducing or eliminating neuropathic pain and discomfort, particularly for those who suffer from complications of wound healing due to diabetes.

Your NeuropathyDR clinician will tailor your neuropathy treatment for your specific health challenges, due to the unique nature of neuropathic pain for each individual. Some of the key components of NeuropathyDR treatment often include:

  • Nutrition and supplementation
  • Exercise and physical therapy
  • LED therapy
  • Hands-on, injection-free therapy modalities
  • Neurostimulation techniques
  • Relaxation and stress management

Your NeuropathyDR clinician will create a custom treatment plan just for you, based on your medical history and symptoms as well as a thorough physical examination to provide additional data about your health condition.

It’s so important in neuropathy treatment to follow a strategic, detailed wellness plan based on your individual needs. With trained NeuropathyDR clinicians throughout the U.S. and beyond, you are likely to find a clinician near you who can provide this hands-on, injection-free care. You can also take a look at our NDGen kit for at-home neuropathy treatment.

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Neuropathy and the Holidays: Ways to Reduce Damaging Holiday Stress

Holiday stress can contribute to worsening of neuropathy symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about how to effectively cope at this time of year.

Hands down, the holidays are one of the most stressful events we encounter in our lives… and they come every year, just like clockwork!

That’s true for anyone, but it’s also true that people with neuropathy related to diabetes or chemotherapy cancer treatment may have higher stress levels than most. In this situation, without a strategic self-care in place, you may be feeling far from thankful or joyful. Holiday stress can add a physical burden to your already overburdened body.

But there’s good news. Holiday stress can be significantly reduced with just a little advance planning. Here’s how you can reduce the impact of the holidays on your neuropathy symptoms.

First, begin by understanding the physical toll that stress takes on your body’s systems. Whether it’s mentally or physically based, stress activates the release of hormones that tell your liver to create glucose, which can wreck your blood sugar levels if you’re diabetic. What’s more, people who are stressed and tired are more likely to ignore their glucose levels or stick to a diabetes-friendly diet.

The second strategy for reducing neuropathy aggravating stress during the holidays is to know yourself and what is most stressful for you. Do what you can to control and minimize your exposure to stressful situations. For example, if driving during rush hour frays your nerves, try to vary your route to work to avoid some of that traffic or leave home at a different time than usual. Or consider alternatives, such as public transportation or carpooling. If you hate to cook but feel obligated to provide a lavish Thanksgiving meal, think of a different way to accomplish the same goal, such as ordering an already prepared turkey or asking a family member to share the cooking responsibilities this year.

Third, it’s a great idea from a neuropathy treatment standpoint to teach yourself a couple of simple relaxation exercises now so that they are easily accessed in your memory when you really need them. Start by reconnecting with your breathing—not by trying to change the pattern of your breath, but simple noticing how it feels to breathe. Spend at least twenty seconds relaxing into your breathing pattern. Progressive relaxation, in which you tense the muscles of each part of your body and then relax them, can also be an effective way to deal with holiday stress.

Be sure to talk with your NeuropathyDR® clinician about the best ways for you personally to minimize holiday stress. He or she will be able to prescribe specific types of exercise, supplements, and healthy eating that can support you best during the stress of the holiday season.

If you need help connecting with a NeuropathyDR® clinician in your area who can effectively monitor and treat your neuropathy, click here.

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Lifestyle Change for Chronic Pain: How Do You Do It?

Knowing the Benefits Isn’t Enough to Elicit Lifestyle Change for Chronic Pain… So What Is?

By Carol Jeffrey

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined “health” as not merely the absence of disease but as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being.” That’s a rather rigid utopian view, however; an increasing amount of research is showing that patients fare much better when a multifactorial treatment approach is used to combat disease. In sharing my experience, I will expound on the physical, mental and social factors associated with making a healthy lifestyle change for chronic pain in our mindset and diets.

REFRAMING

Whenever I heard the word “diet” my thoughts went directly to lack of comfort food, deprivation and fear of failure, but these were misguided thoughts. This reminded me of a study which showed that one’s mindset could alter a person’s visual acuity. “Because the letters get progressively smaller on successive lines, participants expected only to be able to read the first few lines on a traditional eye chart. When the participants viewed a shifted and reversed chart, they were able to see letters in which they previously couldn’t identify. This showed that mindset manipulation can counteract physiological limits imposed on vision.” (Believing Is Seeing…, Langer E, Dept. of Psych, Harvard.) Shifting my view allowed me to see not only the gains of feeling better from eating a well balanced diet, but the losses that I had incurred from making poor nutritional choices. I used this information to reframe the word “diet” into new thoughts of nutrition, health, and well-being. The success of healthy eating depends not only on our mindset, but understanding how the mind-body connection affects our eating habits.

MIND-BODY CONNECTION

Let me briefly explain what the mind-body connection is about. It’s important to “be present to one’s self” in a way that fosters self-awareness and acceptance…this allows us to change. I used to work in a physician’s office, and I usually scarfed down my lunch between patients and phone calls. This ended up being a mindless task of squelching my hunger pains with food devoid of nutritional value, leaving me lethargic by the end of the day. Often, after the long commute home I would be too tired to cook, so I’d stop for fast food, only to ingest more food devoid of nourishment. My mindlessness carried on into the late evening when I would find myself absentmindedly munching on snacks as I relaxed. My poor eating habitsextended Into my weekend, not due to lack of time but due to the social pressures of eating out with friends…where healthy food choices were limited. I was not psychologically present while eating nor mindful of my food choices.

BEING MINDFUL

Unfortunately, prolonged psychological stress, years of detrimental lifestyle, and poor eating habits had greatly contributed to my poor health. This eventually led to physical disability, unemployment, and the inability to do many of the things that I once loved. I was finally ready to break this cycle, and needed to become aware of the circumstances which led to my poor lifestyle choices and eating habits. I began paying attention to my internal dialogue (i.e., I don’t want to let them down, I’m expected to “…” I know I should choose the salad but I’ve had a difficult day so I deserve to eat what I want. I’m feeling anxious…Ice cream is always soothing. I’m not overweight so it isn’t like I’m pigging out). When I quit accepting my excuses, I became more mindful of my thoughts and choices, and discovered that I had much more control over my health than I had previously realized.

MISGUIDED DEPENDENCE

By this time I had reframed my thoughts about diet, understood the mind-body connection, was mindful of my choices, realized I had control over many aspects of my health. Yet, I was still depending upon my physician to heal me, or at least make me feel better with pharmaceuticals. Which leads me to the next issue I needed to address.

ENCULTURED

I had been encultured into believing that it was my physician’s job to heal, and the pharmaceutical company’s job to relieve my pain. If I failed to get better, it wasn’t my fault, or was it? “In 2012, the pharmaceutical industry spent more than $24 billion on marketing to influence physicians, and over $3 billion in advertising to consumers.” (Cegedim Strategic Data) Traditionally, very few non-M.D. or non-D.O. practitioner appointments or treatments have been covered by insurance. These practices enculture and direct us into accepting the limitations that Western medicine on its own has to offer. It also moves us further away from more natural treatments and the means of self-healing. The strategies used by insurance and BigPharm are contrary to obtaining optimal health, since integrative medicine has shown to be most effective in managing disease. Now that I understood why I was so dependent on my physician, what could I do about it?

SELF-HEALING BEHAVIOR

Fabrega Horacio, Jr. wrote an interesting article (Sickness and Healing and the Evolutionary Foundations of Mind and Minding) which shows how non-human primates (i.e., chimpanzees) are reliant on self-healing behaviors that not only remedy illness but prevent many illnesses, through social functions and diet. I had been relying on my doctors to heal me and a pill to ease my pain, instead of taking personal responsibility, and using preventive and self-healing behaviors…like the chimps. I understood that eating a healthy diet along with living a well balanced life was essential for pain reduction, but I still wasn’t motivated to change.

MOTIVATION

Pain is fundamentally unpleasant, and is designed to protect by promoting motivation and learning. I was now enlightened to the fact that my lifestyle and poor diet were fueling the raging fire within my damaged nerves. However, like many others, I have an aversion to change and even though the reward of pain relief should have provided enough motivation to elicit change…it wasn’t. It is said that most people are motivated by one of two things, “inspiration” or (in my situation) “desperation.” My chronic pain was extremely difficult to handle, but it was the lack of being able to engage in life that made me desperate enough to make changes. My attitude and desire toward change had evolved from I wish, I want, to I must. My reason to change had now been clarified and my need for change had transformed from I should, I intend, to “I am” making a lifestyle change for chronic pain. However, what would keep me motivated? This is where goal setting came into play.

GOAL SETTING

“Remember the word ‘SMART.’ Successful goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.” This is based on research conducted by Dr. Edwin A. Lock of the University of Maryland.

  • Specific: I asked myself what my life was currently missing and what I wanted in my life. Connecting life goals to specific health-related goals clarified the reason I wished to be well and what I would do once my health improved. Thereby answering the questions what, where and why.
  • Measurable: I then determined how I would accomplish and measure my success. (i.e. Add three new organic, non processed foods to my grocery cart each week. Actively work with my doctor on natural pain relief techniques at each visit. Exercise as tolerated but do it two times a week. Do one thing each day to prepare me for a less stressful career.)
  • Achievable: I then asked myself if I had the skill, tools, and resources needed. (i.e. I researched YouTube, and I borrowed books from the library to learn about natural pain relief techniques, meditation, healthy diet, etc., and sought out physicians who practiced integrative medicine.)
  • Realistic: To avoid frustration, I focused on honest goals that I believed were obtainable. There was plenty of evidence to show that changing my lifestyle and eating a healthy diet would decrease my pain and improve my quality of life. It was realistic to train for a less stressful career. Total health and no pain was impossible; however, controlling diet, decreasing narcotic use and learning healthier ways of dealing with pain were within my control.
  • Timely: I gave myself one year to turn my health around and begin a new career. This goal challenged me but it was possible. I set daily, weekly and monthly goals which were frequently reviewed and revised as necessary.

There aren’t any shortcuts to change, including a lifestyle change for chronic pain. I had to reframe my negative thoughts, become more self-aware and mindful of my decisions, accept personal responsibility for my health, incorporate self-healing behavior, determine what would motivate me, set and commit to my goals.

The rewards of an improved quality of life came by default as I achieved my goals. I have not yet reached the utopia of health that the WHO refers to, but I have significantly decreased my pain level and again live an active and meaningful life. This article reflects my journey, but more importantly, I hope it encourages and guides you to make your own changes so that you too may live life to its fullest.

What is your experience with lifestyle change for chronic pain? Talk with us at our Facebook page.

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Neuropathy Treatments Can Be Supplemented with Creativity

Are You Surprised That Making Art Could Be a Supportive Addition to Your Neuropathy Treatments?

One of the most effective at-home neuropathy treatments can be done anytime, anywhere, and you don’t need special materials to do it. You don’t even have to have a special talent or training in art.

Making art can include everything from drawing or painting to collage, scrapbooking, or even flower arranging. The basic human drive to make art, going back to cave paintings many thousands of years ago, is simply about making things that are special and unique that have personal meaning or bring beauty into your world.

And as it turns out, making art is physically good for you! Creativity might even be the perfect way to supplement neuropathy treatments.

Even way back in 2008, the National Institutes of Health described in their newsletter that scientists had already begun studying how the process of making art can reduce stress, ease pain, and improve quality of life. Art therapy has been shown positive benefits with many medical and emotional issues, from trauma or depression to chemotherapy fatigue. In other words, creativity can be a great supplement to your other neuropathy treatments.

There are many options for making art besides drawing and painting, and anyone can do these relaxing creative activities without any special training or materials. Try one of these easy art options.

Magazine Collage Journal

Materials you’ll need:

  • Blank journal or spiral notebook
  • Magazine
  • Scissors
  • Glue

Flip through any magazine looking for images that speak to you. Perhaps they make you feel happy or excited, or they remind you of good memories. Choose three images to glue down to your journal page in any way that looks right to you. If you want, flip to a new page in your journal and write down your thoughts about the images you selected today.

Index Card Mandala

Materials you’ll need:

  • Index cards
  • Pencil
  • Small jar lid
  • Markers or colored pencils

“Mandala” is a Sanskrit word for “sacred circle.” Psychologist Carl Jung used to make a daily practice of creating mandala designs to help him process his ideas. Coloring mandalas has also been shown to be relaxing to your nervous system. All you need to do is find a small circular object, like a jar lid, and trace around it onto your index card. Now use markers, colored pencils, or crayons to fill in the circle with any shapes, colors, and lines that you want. If you prefer to color in larger and more elaborate mandala designs, you can find free printable mandalas online.

Blind Contour Drawing

Materials you’ll need:

  • A Sharpie marker
  • Blank paper
  • Willingness to try something new

Elizabeth Layton is famous for having become an artist at the age of 68, using a daily practice of making blind contour drawings to help her battle depression. “Blind contour” means that you will be drawing a continuous line without looking at the paper; instead, you focus your gaze on the object you’re drawing. The end result obviously won’t be a perfect drawing, but what’s important in this process is the experience of drawing. I recommend a Sharpie marker because there’s no temptation to erase or “fix” anything and you can concentrate on really seeing an object, rather than forcing your drawing to look a certain way. Try it for a few days and see how much fun it can be to create messy, process-oriented drawings!

Are you curious about how to add a creativity prescription to your neuropathy treatments? Talk with us about it at our Facebook page.

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Treating Chronic Pain with TLC: Why Emotional Support is Vital (and How to Ask for the Help You Need)

Don’t go it alone. Here’s why accepting support from family and friends is so important in treating chronic pain.Fotolia 5256891 XS 300x200 Treating Chronic Pain with TLC: Why Emotional Support is Vital (and How to Ask for the Help You Need)

Although it may be a shocking idea, your personal support network may be equally as important to your health as your medical treatment team—or any kind of supplemental therapies.

Why? Because the bottom line is that a positive outlook is the best medicine for good health outcomes. If you are feeling contented and supported in your personal relationships, you’ll be much better equipped to cope with pain when it arises.

Unfortunately, many people find it hard to ask for help from their family and friends. We may have heard the message that it was weak or shameful to be dependent on others.

The truth is that when we are able to accept love and support, we’re better equipped to be as independent as possible in our daily lives.

Make a list of people in your life who have helped you in big and small ways in the past, as well as people that would probably be willing to help now if you were to ask.

Now, think about the things that are making your life the most difficult or stressful right now. This list could be anything from a leaky faucet in your kitchen to a pile of medical bills. Just get it all down on paper.

Finally, begin matching the list of stress points with the list of helpers in your life. Who could come over and fix that leaky faucet for you? Who could help you make phone calls to arrange a payment plan for those bills?

You will find that most of the people on your list are grateful for a chance to help you—they just didn’t know what to do that would be truly helpful. And when your stress level decreases (now that the leaky faucet or pile of bills is a thing of the past), your overall health will be optimized. That means chronic pain becomes less of a burden because you’re better able to cope with it.

Building your support network is just one way that you can take control of your own health and overcome chronic pain. Learn more by visiting our Facebook page.

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A Simple and Effective Treatment for Foot Neuropathy: Gentle Yoga

 

foot-neuropathy

Ease the pain of neuropathy in feet with a simple yoga practice—even if you’ve never done yoga before.

 

Peripheral neuropathy can be an aggravating and chronic condition, and it’s tough to treat using traditional medications. But there’s a treatment you can do on your own—in a class, or at home—that can be very beneficial over time, and that’s gentle yoga.

Yoga isn’t just about spiritual growth or physical fitness anymore. Many neuropathy patients are finding that simple yoga poses can alleviate uncomfortable tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes. Best of all, many basic yoga poses are easy to learn and don’t require special equipment.

Some of the benefits of a regular yoga practice include:

  1. Increased circulation to the hands and feet. Many yoga poses use the pull of gravity to shift habitual blood flow patterns, particularly to the feet. (Don’t worry, this doesn’t require a headstand!)
  2. Improved body self-awareness. A regular yoga practice can help you connect with your body sensations and really notice what your body is telling you.
  3. Relaxation and peacefulness. A simple, non-strenuous yoga practice for 10 to 30 minutes before bed can help you relax and sleep better. Or, if you prefer, use yoga as a gentle wake-up practice in the morning to set a peaceful tone for your day.

In general, yoga is a wonderful form of self-care that can be modified for your own unique physical goals and needs.

If you have no experience with yoga, it’s best to begin with assistance from a teacher. You can look for a local “gentle yoga” class or use a beginning yoga DVD as a guide at home.

Here’s one very simple yoga technique to get you started with relief for your feet. Sit cross-legged with your shoes and socks off. Weave your fingers one by one through the toes of the opposite foot, and hold this position for about 20 seconds. Then, switch to using the other hand and foot. You may want to do this 2 or 3 times for each foot.

What do you think about using yoga as a support for other types of foot neuropathy treatment? Join the conversation on our Facebook page.

 

Neuropathy Treatment Formula: Taking Charge of Your Health

Is Your Neuropathy Making You Feel Like You’ve Lost Control?
2 ladies on Lap Top 300x199 Neuropathy Treatment Formula: Taking Charge of Your Health

Neuropathy symptoms can make you feel like your health has spun out of control. But regardless of the particulars of your situation, there’s one thing for sure—anxiety and disappointment about the state of your personal healthcare are likely exacerbating your symptoms.

The number one reason to step in and take charge of your own wellness is that feeling in control will make you feel better. Anxiety can compound existing symptoms (such as trouble sleeping) and create new ones by putting the focus on what’s not working. But it’s important to remember that you DO have control over many of the factors that can positively influence your health in a big way.

Many people come to us looking for a “magic bullet,” one simple pill or procedure that will cure neuropathy overnight and permanently. They want a neuropathy treatment formula in a bottle like a one-a-day supplement.

Of course, there are many medically-based aspects to our treatment program, but there are also several significant components of the program that are completely in your control as beneficial lifestyle changes to impact neuropathy. Here are just two simple examples of things that YOU can control in your healthcare, starting today.

First, begin making small, gradual improvements in your diet. Start by weaning away from sodas and processed foods. Notice that you don’t have to go cold turkey or give them up “forever.” Just switch to thinking of them as occasional treats. Choose organic and local produce and other foods whenever you can. Seek out natural and healthy alternatives to your usual meal routine.

Second, get moving. Many people shudder at the thought of doing “exercise,” which sounds like some kind of aerobic torture device. Forget all that and just start moving more than usual—a walk around the block twice a day, slow-dancing to the oldies in your living room, or even vigorous housework or gardening are all candidates for healthy and fun exercise. Make sure you check with your doctor first to find out what’s appropriate for you.

The key is to think of “diet and exercise” not as unreachable fitness goals but as things you already incorporate into your everyday life. Just introduce a small shift in the WAY you do these things, and let a tiny pebble of intention turn into an avalanche of increased health!

Do you have questions about how to get started making beneficial lifestyle changes to heal neuropathy? Talk with us on Facebook.

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Mental Illness

Fotolia 41734006 S 300x200 Mental Illness Robin Williams was not only phenomenal actor but a wonderful human being.  Unfortunately Life’s challenges, combined with what is likely some genetic brain chemistry associated with mental illness take a heavy toll.

This has been a very sad week, losing one of the brightest actors and comedians to ever live.

With my last patient, a nurse this morning we had a frank discussion about why mental illness is still under recognized, under treated, and stigmatized.

I find it very helpful for both patients and professionals to look at it like this.  It is our brain and nervous system that determines how we interpret the outside world. When our brains and nervous systems fail to work properly, or are compromised by illness, drugs, or genetic changes, life challenges can push us and overwhelm then come to the forefront.

This is nothing to be ashamed of!!!

There are all different types of mental illness, ranging from depression to schizophrenia to bipolar disorder and of course so much more.

Because we are all unique biochemically and neurologically, some brains demand more but we all require in balance neurotransmitters (brain and nervous system chemical messengers) including dopamine, GABA, norepinephrine, serotonin and all the other co-factors which are essential to make our brains and nervous systems “hum”.

And taking good care of YOU is the FIRST LINE of good health care!

What a lot of doctors and patients fail to realize however is that just as lack of exercise, smoking, alcohol, obesity, and poor nutrition contribute to neuropathy and chronic pain they also can contribute significantly to mental illness.

Our brains are the most sensitive portion of our nervous system. This is why diligence and our lifestyles are so important throughout our lives.

And this is also why it is so important to make sure that any mental stress or resultant illness is dealt with compassionately, and professionally very early on.

Your healthcare professional knows that adding certain drugs, as well as nutrients may help lift the veil of mental illness and compliment good therapy and self care.

There’s also good evidence that exercise, yoga, meditation as well as cognitive behavioral therapy can go along way towards helping many people with mental and physical illnesses.

But the most important thing that you need to do is to recognize that dealing directly with mental illness is just as an important part of your health as maintaining normal blood pressure or brushing your teeth.

It’s time we lifted any stigma associated with mental illness early and care for ourselves, and every one around us compassionately and completely!

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our Life Back On Track

Vitamin D and Dementia

2 ladies on Lap Top 300x199 Vitamin D and DementiaVitamin D and Dementia

Even the news media has latched onto this one. Vitamin D is associated with many diseases and conditions. Now as it turns out as we have long suspected vitamin D is critical for brain health.

The most recent research highlights the relationship between vitamin D and dementia. Turns out maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D may actually prevent the onset of brain disease commonly called dementia.

But what about its involvement with neuropathy and chronic pain? Over the last few years we have highlighted it’s role, and the fact that vitamin D deficiencies are associated with chronic pain.

Furthermore vitamin D deficiencies are often associated with peripheral neuropathy.

Often times there is no direct cause and effect noted but we do know that vitamin D deficiency is associated with chronic poor health and many diseases and illnesses.

But why is this? How can one nutrient have such profound effects? The reason is vitamin acts as a hormone. Also acts as a cellular protectant.

One mistake that too many make however is simply blindly taking vitamin D without having it’s blood levels measured. This is a point I cannot stress enough.

You must know your vitamin D levels like you know your height ,weight and blood pressure.

So why not learn more about how vitamin D may help protect you from dementia, as well as numerous other disorders, including neuropathy as well as many forms of chronic pain!

Just use the search function on his site and go through our archives and learn much more about vitamin D!

There’s no other way to say it.

This should be part of routine testing for all patients, no excuses.

Tell us what you think here on Facebook

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Risks vs Benefits

Male Doc Elderly Male Patient 300x199 Risks vs BenefitsNeuropathy & Pain Treatment Risks vs Benefits

Here is a proven fact. All of healthcare in fact you could argue most of life our “decisions” are made pitting risks versus benefits.  As adults we ask ourselves and teach our children, do our actions today set us up for a healthier and better future or not?

What if we take no action at all? Is that better than doing something?

All of these are decisions that you need to make along with your healthcare providers on a regular basis. You see everything we do is risks versus benefits. This is so important to understand.  Make no mistake about modern science and medicine have developed amazing treatments.This also includes what we do here. We are continually working on treatments to help neuropathy and chronic pain patients.

Do YOU Always ASK your clinicians Is the cure is worse than the problem?

So, what if instead, we as both doctors and patients took a very strong look at the underlying causes of so much of illness and treated those first?

You know, all those things just get us into trouble. Poor dietary habits especially over the long haul, inactivity, cigarette smoking, not paying attention to stress and emotional health. I’m sure you get the picture.

What if we did all of those things before we prescribed for patients neuropathy and chronic pain treatment drugs, or surgical procedures that could cause significant harm.

For example, if doctors and patients paid more careful attention and worked together just like we do in NeuropathyDR Treatment Centers on weight loss and lifestyle, far less patients would be placed on statin medication.

Statin medications as you probably know are one major cause of neuropathy..

What if instead of injecting patients, and suggesting invasive procedures early on what if we both make sure as doctors and patients that all conservative treatment options were exhausted first?

You already know the answer…

You understand, as your NeuropathyDR clinician does, that’s all good neuropathy and chronic pain treatment is risks vs benefits!

So why not learn more today? Why not take actions that will help you live much more fully, without devastating side effects.

Make all your decisions about your neuropathy and chronic pain treatment very carefully!

Please join us in this conversation all day long on Facebook.

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Neuropathy Lab Tests

There is No Single Neuropathy Lab Test as Neuropathy is often a “Symptom” of Many Conditions.

Fotolia 17954759 XS 300x200 Neuropathy Lab Tests

One of the things that surprises many patients new to peripheral neuropathy and many other forms of chronic pain, is that is there is no single neuropathy or pain causing lab test to identify their problem.

In fact there is no single laboratory tests by itself, which is hundred percent accurate for so many disorders.

This of course is difficult not only for patients, but their families AND the physicians and therapists like ourseslves who treat peripheral neuropathy and chronic pain.

As we talk about often, neuropathy is most often a “symptom” of other conditions and as in the case of chemotherapy, toxic, or drug related neuropathy possibly caused by treatment. It is not necessarily a primary diagnosis.

So what this means is that very careful attention needs to be paid to multiple factors at the same time. This also often includes multiple laboratory tests.

For the patient new to neuropathy or chronic pain, this will oftentimes include blood tests. If it’s possibly related to a structural or spinal condition then MRIs, x-rays, CAT scans, and other tests may also be necessary.

One of the most important things your clinician will do is to conduct a very detailed physical examination.

Only after ALL of these things are done and then put together by an expert, can you most accurately identify what maybe going on.

This is NOT a one step or simple process!

So realize that in order to maximize your recovery, EARLY good care must still be administered ESPECIALLY when an accurate diagnosis is not possible! As we spoke about last time, waiting to act on correctable factors while obtaining a “perfect” assessment is the worst thing you can do.

And many times neuropathy and chronic pain patients are frustrated with negative or nearly normal tests. But as I tell my patients all the time, this is often the sign of a much better prognosis!

So of course you should work with your doctors and therapists in establishing an accurate diagnosis.

But don’t be surprised if this is not possible.

Often times there are several different conditions and lifestyle factors that work together to cause neuropathy and chronic pain. Typically these are stress, obesity, smoking and poor physical conditioning.

This is why it is so important that you address ALL these things together with your NeuropathyDR Clinician to give your body the best shot at any possible improvement or recovery!

For more information on neuropathy and chronic pain, join us all day on Facebook!

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Postherpetic Neuropathy (Pain After Shingles)

A NeuropathyDR specialist is here to help you with your Postherpetic Neuropathy Including nutrition and diet plan.

close up pommegranate citrus salad1 300x200 Postherpetic Neuropathy (Pain After Shingles)

When you were diagnosed with shingles, you thought that as soon as the rash disappeared you would be free and clear…

You didn’t count on the nerve damage and pain you’re still dealing with.

The pain of postherpetic neuropathy.

You’re frustrated…depressed…irritable.

Yes, you know you can take pain medications to help ease some of the discomfort but you don’t want to do that forever.

The good news is that there are other things you can do to help your body heal.  With a little patience, perseverance and the help of medical professionals well versed in dealing with postherpetic neuropathy, like your local NeuropathyDR™ specialist, you can live a normal life again.

It Starts With Good Nutrition

The human body is a very well designed machine.  If you put junk into it, you get junk out of it.  But if you give it what it needs to function properly and to repair itself, the results can be awe inspiring.

The very first thing you need to do is make sure you’re giving your body the right tools to fight back against postherpetic neuropathy.  And that means a healthy diet.

Your diet should include[1]:

–           Whole grains and legumes to provide B vitamins to promote nerve health.  Whole grains promote the production of serotonin in the brain and will increase your feeling of well-being.

–           Fish and eggs for additional vitamins B12 and B1.

–           Green, leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, and other greens) for calcium and magnesium.   Both of these nutrients are vital to healthy nerve endings and health nerve impulse  transmission and, as an added bonus, they give your immune system a boost.

–           Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables (such as squash, carrots, yellow and orange bell  peppers, apricots, oranges, etc.) for vitamins A and C to help repair your skin and boost  your immune system.

–           Sunflower seeds (unsalted), avocados, broccoli, almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, peanuts (unsalted), tomatoes and tomato products, sweet potatoes and fish for vitamin E to promote skin health and ease the pain of postherpetic neuropathy.

–           Ask your neuropathy specialist for recommendations on a good multivitamin and mineral supplement to fill in any gaps in your nutrition plan.

Foods you should avoid[2]:

–           Coffee and other caffeinated drinks.

–           Fried foods and all other fatty foods.  Fatty foods suppress the immune system and that’s the last thing you need when you’re fighting postherpetic neuropathy.

–           Cut back on animal protein.  That’s not to say you should become a vegetarian.  Just limit the amount of animal protein you take in.  High-protein foods elevate the amount of  dopamine and norepinephrine which are both tied to high levels of anxiety and stress.

–           Avoid drinking alcohol.  Alcohol consumption limits the ability of the liver to remove toxins from the body and can make a bad situation worse.

–           Avoid sugar.  You don’t have to eliminate sweets completely, just control them.  Sugar contains no essential nutrients and “gunks up” your system.  Keeping your blood sugar level constant will help control your irritability.

–           Control your salt intake.  Opt for a salt substitute with potassium instead of sodium and stay away from preserved foods like bacon, ham, pickles, etc.  Reducing the amount of  salt you eat will help ease inflammation and that alone will work wonders in the healing process.

Talk to your local NeuropathyDR™ treatment specialist for a personalized diet plan to help you to help your body to heal with the right nutritional support for postherpetic neuropathy.

Give Your Body A Break by Managing Stress

We all know that stress is a killer.  But few of us really take steps to manage the stress in our lives.  By keeping your stress level under control, you give your body a chance to use the resources it was using to deal with stress to actually heal itself.

Some tips for managing your stress level:

–           Exercise regularly.  You don’t have to get out and run a marathon.  Just walk briskly for about 15 minutes a day, every day, to start.  You can build from there.

–           Employ relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, tai chi, yoga or meditation.  Any of these will calm the mind and, in turn, calm the body and nerves.

–          Find a hobby that will take your mind off your pain.
Ask your local NeuropathyDR™ clinician for suggestions and make stress management a part of your treatment plan to overcome postherpetic neuropathy. But remember, healing is a process not an event.  Be patient with yourself and start the healing process today.

We hope this gives you some tips to get started on the road to putting postherpetic neuropathy behind you.  Working with your medical team, including your local NeuropathyDR™ specialist, to design a nutrition and treatment plan tailored to your specific needs is a great place to start.

For more information on recovering from shingles and postherpetic neuropathy, get our Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy”.


[1] http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/shingles/default.htm

[2] http://www.healingwithnutrition.com/sdisease/shingles/shingles.html

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