Symptoms of painful peripheral neuropathy may decrease over time. But it sometimes takes one or two years for the symptoms to go away completely. And some people experience longer-term symptoms. There are a number of things you can do to manage the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and cope with this condition:
Avoid alcoholic drinks. Even a glass or two of wine or beer can affect your nerves, particularly if the nerves have been exposed to chemotherapy. Stay ahead of your pain. Take pain medication early in the day, before symptoms become severe. The drugs often work much better this way.
Pay attention to your shoes. Neuropathy often causes foot symptoms. If that’s the case, try shoes with “rocker bottoms”—smooth soles that have rockers (much like the bottom of a rocking horse) that allow the foot to roll while walking, taking off some of the pressure. Or, try wearing sneakers and/or using orthotics (customized foot supports) in your shoes. Your physiatrist, physical therapist, or occupational therapist should be able to advise you on where to buy orthotics.
Sit down, when possible, if neuropathy in your feet is severe. Set up areas in your home where you can sit to do activities you normally do standing up, such as shaving, putting on makeup, drying your hair, or chopping vegetables, for example. This can make a tremendous difference in how your feet feel.
Pay extra attention to your feet. At least once a week, use a hand-held mirror to check your feet for sores or open wounds.
Get a wider grip. If your hands feel clumsy or weak, consider buying household tools such as kitchen knives and hammers with a wide grip. This frees the hand from gripping too tightly, which can lead to discomfort. You can also get a non-slip grip for the steering wheel in your car.
Consider using voice-activated computer software if it’s difficult for you to type. There are a number of programs and different kinds of equipment that allow you to use a computer without typing, giving the hands a rest. Newer computers have voice-activated software already built into them. All you may need to add to your computer is an inexpensive microphone.
Ensure your home is as safe as possible: Store cords safely away and remove rugs. Install ramps rather than stairs if possible.
If balance is an issue consider physical therapy evaluation for assistive devices such as canes, walkers with seated benches, or bathing chairs.