Could Meditation be an Effective Home Treatment for Chronic Neuropathic Pain?
Meditation is a free wellness tool that you can use anytime and anywhere. And it’s not as complicated as you might think.
It might surprise you to hear that meditation can be an effective home treatment for chronic neuropathic pain. Maybe it doesn’t seem like something that would be an accepted neuropathy treatment, like medications or other traditional approaches to chronic pain.
In fact, there is a type of meditation that is actually considered to be evidence-based. In other words, multiple studies have looked at this method and seen positive results for chronic pain. A program called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction has been used in many renowned hospitals and medical centers, incorporating a type of mindfulness meditation that focuses on noticing thoughts and sensations without judgment.
There are books and tapes available about this program, but you don’t even need that kind of specialized training to begin using meditation for wellness on your own. All you need is to understand why mindfulness meditation works with chronic pain.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, who developed this evidence-based program, says that when we have chronic pain, there are two things that make us suffer: the physical pain itself, and our thoughts and emotions about the pain that intensify what we are feeling. Our story about the awfulness or unbearableness of the pain builds a layer of tension around it, like wearing a shirt with a collar that’s too tight.
Meditation lets us change the way we feel ABOUT the pain, so that we can be more relaxed and accepting of it. That way, we can experience peacefulness even when physical pain is present.
Those are the reasons why meditation can be an effective home treatment for chronic neuropathic pain. Soon, we’ll discuss some different ways to meditate and how you can find the method that works best for you.
For more information on coping with autonomic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com
Our Clinicians are here to help you with Shingles (Postherpetic Neuropathy)
Including advanced laser & NDGen care, nutrition and your diet plan.
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.
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:
– Vegetables and legumes to provide B vitamins to promote nerve health.
– 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 andr vitamin E to promote skin health and ease the pain of postherpetic neuropathy.
– Consider a personalized supplement to fill in any gaps in your nutrition plan.
Foods you should avoid:
– Excess coffee and other caffeinated drinks.
– Fried foods and all other fatty foods. Fatty foods could suppress the immune system and that’s the last thing you need when you’re fighting postherpetic neuropathy.
– Cut back on animal protein. 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. 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 an affiliated clinician 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 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 coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com
What You Need to Know About Shingles and Postherpetic Neuralgia
You wake up one morning to a red painful rash…
A band of blisters wrapped around your body from the middle of your back around your side to your breastbone. As if that weren’t bad enough, you may also have
– Pain, burning, numbness or tingling
– Fluid-filled blisters
– Body aches
– Fever and chills
If not for the rash, you might think you were coming down with the flu. Instead, your first thought is that you’re having an allergic reaction to food, or a new bath soap or even the perfume in your laundry detergent…
But if you are
– Over 50 years of age
– Had chicken pox at some point in your life
– Have an autoimmune disease
– Have any other health issue or significant stress that weakens your immune system
You probably have a virus called Varicella zoster virus (VZV), more commonly known as shingles. VZV is the same virus that causes chicken pox. Once you’ve had chicken pox, the virus lies dormant in your system until it’s reactivated by various risk factors and you develop shingles.
And that’s a good news/bad news diagnosis.
Contrary to several old wives’ tales, shingles is not life-threatening…that’s the good news.
The bad news is that shingles is extremely painful and you may experience nerve pain (Postherpetic Neuropathy) long after the actual rash and other symptoms are gone.
If you think you have shingles or that you might be at risk of developing them, this is what you need to know about shingles and Postherpetic Neuralgia:
Is Shingles Contagious?
Yes, like chicken pox, shingles is contagious. You can pass the shingles virus to anyone who hasn’t had chicken pox. And how’s this for a twist? The person you pass the virus to will develop chicken pox, not shingles.
Fortunately, the shingles virus is not an airborne virus. It’s passed through direct contact with the open sores caused by shingles. Until your blisters are healed, you are contagious. Avoid contact with
– Pregnant women
– Anyone with a weakened immune system
How Is Shingles Treated?
Shingles is not life-threatening and, much like any other virus, it will probably resolve on its own within a few weeks.
However, getting to the doctor as soon as your shingles appear (within 72 hours) is the wise (and much less painful) course of action to speed up the healing process and lessen the likelihood of potentially serious complications.
Once your doctor confirms that you have shingles, usually through taking a complete history and physical and cultures from your rash, the standard course of treatment is anti-viral and pain medications to kill the virus and make you more comfortable.
To help the medication work, you need to get plenty of rest, avoid stress and either take a cool bath or use cold wet compresses to ease the itch and pain.
What Are Some of the Complications from Shingles?
While shingles is not a serious illness, some of the complications arising from shingles can be.
Your blisters go away but the pain remains. Postherpetic Neuropathy is caused by damaged nerve fibers sending exaggerated pain messages to your brain. Pain medication, antidepressants or even anticonvulsant medications are often prescribed to bring relief from Postherpetic Neuropathy; however, repairing the damaged nerves is more desirable for long term relief. Contact your local NeuropathyDR clinician to ask about their unique treatment protocol for treating Postherpetic Neuropathy and repairing the damaged nerves.
Loss of Vision
If your shingles erupt around or in your eyes, you can develop serious eye infections that could damage your eyes and result in loss of vision. If you have shingles anywhere on your face, contact a healthcare professional for immediate treatment.
Depending upon where your shingles erupt and which nerves they affect, you can develop
– Hearing or balance problems
– Facial paralysis
– Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain)
If your shingles blisters are not properly treated, you can develop skin infections cause by bacteria. If the skin around your shingles becomes reddened, warm, firm, or possibly has red streaks spreading out from the affected area, contact your doctor. You will need antibiotics to stop the infection.
Ramsay Hunt Syndrome
This complication is rare but it does happen. If cranial nerves are affected by shingles you can develop Ramsay Hunt Syndrome resulting in facial nerve weakness and deafness. If you have shingles around or inside your ear, seek medical treatment immediately.
How Can I Protect Myself From Shingles?
The best way to protect yourself from shingles is to stay healthy, control stress and exercise on a regular basis.
The shingles vaccine is often recommended for people who are 60 years of age or older and have actually had chicken pox. Again, this vaccine won’t guarantee that you won’t develop shingles but it could lessen the severity of symptoms. It might reduce your chances of developing Postherpetic Neuralgia.
A word of caution – do not get the vaccination if you
– Have ever had an allergic reaction to the antibiotic neomycin or any other component of the shingles vaccine. Ask your healthcare provider what’s in the vaccine before you are vaccinated.
– Are receiving radiation, chemotherapy or any kind of steroid treatment
– Have ever had bone marrow cancer or any cancer affecting the lymphatic system
And by all means, if you know someone has shingles, exercise precautions!
We hope this information helps you deal with this very uncomfortable illness and the possible lasting effects of Postherpetic Neuropathy. Having a bit more background information on your illness will help you participate in your care and give you a better chance of a positive outcome.
Don’t just live in pain. Call us today at 781-659-7989 and talk to us about treating your shingles & postherpetic neuropathy with our NeuropathyDR Treatment Systems.
If You Have Neuropathy Pain from Guillain-Barre Syndrome or CIDP, There Are Special Considerations When Choosing Whether to Have a Flu Shot. Keep Reading for Details On How to Weigh the Risks and Benefits.
Flu season will be here before we know it. Most healthy adults will choose to get a flu shot to help stop the spread of this sometimes incapacitating illness, which can be responsible for thousands of deaths every year. And finding a place to get immunized is easy, with availability at nearly any drugstore, pharmacy, and walk-in clinic. Your insurance may even cover the cost.
But for some, deciding whether to get a flu shot isn’t an easy decision. People with neuropathy pain face a tough dilemma due to potential reactions to the vaccine. The list of folks who may be wary of the flu vaccine due to possible side effects includes people with peripheral neuropathy caused by cancer treatments, immune disorders such as AIDS and HIV, celiac disease, liver or kidney disease, shingles, and diabetes.
It’s important for people with neuropathy pain to realize that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) actually recommends getting a flu shot due to the serious complications that can arise from flu exposure with certain underlying illnesses.
However, if you have neuropathy pain caused by some illnesses, including Guillain-Barre Syndrome and CIDP (chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy), you will need to discuss this issue in detail with their doctors. That’s because the immune system stimulation from a flu shot can sometimes trigger a relapse of these illnesses. Many doctors will recommend waiting a year after symptoms cease before receiving a flu shot.
Who is most at risk of catching and transmitting the flu virus? The CDC says you may want to consider getting a flu shot if any of these apply to you:
- You’re at least 50 years old. (Children under 19 are also at higher risk.)
- You are dealing with a chronic serious medical condition, such as diabetes or heart disease.
- You are a resident of a long-term care facility or nursing home.
- You are living with someone who is in a high-risk category, such as a child who is below the recommended age for vaccination.
Ultimately, whether to be vaccinated for the flu is your decision. People with neuropathy pain should speak with their doctors about this issue before taking action.
Looking for more discussion about special topics on neuropathy pain? Come talk with us at our Facebook page.
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
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
- 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.
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.
But 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.
Have you tried meditation? Talk with us about it at our Facebook page.