Peripheral Neuropathy is a condition where the nerves lose their ability to conduct efficiently and ends up with either numbness in the lower extremity or persistent pain and burning. Too often, those suffering with peripheral neuropathy had been told that there is little or nothing that can be done. Fortunately, as time progresses, there is a continually better understanding of this condition and an improvement in treatments. We will outline the four most effective.

Microvascular Therapy

It has been well documented that even in cases where the main arteries are bringing adequate blood flow down the limb, the microvascular circulation, the small tributaries, are not as well functioning. This is particularly true in people with diabetes. Microvascular therapy is achieved through a unit similar to a physical therapy modality. The unit is distributed by Neurovasix and is called Microvas. It is a non-invasive treatment not requiring any medication and has no side effects. The treatment involves a digital wave that causes angiogenesis, the reperfusion of capillaries, which brings more oxygenated blood to the nerves. Patients often feel a dramatic increase in sensation. Some cases report full resolution of peripheral neuropathy symptoms. It has been well documented that people with diabetes suffer from microvascular deficiency and is the primary cause of neuropathy. For that reason, microvascular therapy is much more effective in people with diabetes.


A bioactive form of Thiamine, Benfotiamine, is a nutrient that is deficient in many people suffering with peripheral neuropathy. Thiamine, Vitamin B1, is essential for the nervous system to function properly. It is difficult to maintain adequate levels of Thiamine through diet alone. Benfotiamine works to nourish the nerves and reverse the effects of peripheral neuropathy. After taking Benfotiamine, people can notice a change in their peripheral neuropathy symptoms anywhere from several days to two months after first taking it. For those who it is effective for, it is important to continue to take the supplement. Benfotiamine has been used in Europe since the 1960s and has been proven to be safe and effective.

Topical Analgesics

When it comes to peripheral neuropathy, much focus is spent on the oral pharmaceuticals to manage the discomfort. These medications, Neurontin, Cymbalta, Lyrica, and others are often prescribed and heavily advertised on television. These medications are often effective, but the side effects can be debilitating. So many people overlook a topical analgesic. If someone's neuropathy presents as a constant burning pain, why not put out the fire? Now not all analgesics are created equal and each should be used at the proper time. If someone is feeling that burning pain, you don't want to counter that with a topical that will make the feet burn more! Put out the fire with a topical analgesic that provides a cold, soothing sensation. The most popular of these products is called Biofreeze. Biofreeze contains Ilex, an herbal extract of a holly shrub in South Africa. Biofreeze provides a cooling sensation. Beware of "Icy" topical that have a heat component afterwards. For a neuropathy that presents with a numbing effect, then a heat component works better. Capsin, and other ointments that contain capcaisin, provides a burning sensation that stimulates the nerves and can moderate the numbness. No matter which is appropriate to use, please be sure that you wash your hands afterwards. If you touch your eyes...ouch!

Shoes are Important!

With all the discomfort with peripheral neuropathy, it probably is best just to go barefoot, right? WRONG!! For one, the feet must be protected. If someone with peripheral neuropathy has a decrease in sensitivity, as most do, then that person is putting their limbs at risk by not wearing shoes. A foot that does not have full sensitivity cannot be expected to feel what it steps on. This will, at best, cause a lack of balance and, at worst, cause a foreign body to embed into the foot, which can become infected and lead hospitalization or amputation. When looking for a shoe, the sole is most important. A sturdy rubber sole is the best way to protect the foot from foreign objects. If enclosing the foot proves to be too uncomfortable, a looser fitting shoe or sandal can work well also.

It is true that nothing will help everyone. But someone who suffers from peripheral neuropathy will tell you that even a slight reduction in pain may let them get to sleep at night and be more productive during their day. Most cities have support groups and resources for peripheral neuropathy. It is definitely worth going, hear experts speak about it, and network with other people who understand how you feel.

Of course, contact your podiatrist for advice and solutions for your peripheral neuropathy woes.

Dr. Andrew Schneider
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A podiatrist and foot surgeon in Houston, TX.