Are Topical Creams Effective For Neuropathy?
You feel a tingling or slight burning sensation in your hands or feet and you know it’s a symptom of your neuropathy. These areas, especially your feet, tend to be targeted first because the nerves leading down to those extremities are the longest and the easiest to damage. But at the moment, you know its not a sign for major concern, you just want relief from the discomfort or pain as soon as possible.
Supplements are one way to treat these symptoms, but you don’t really know when they’ll start working and if there will be side effects. By taking any oral medication, you are prone to drowsiness, dizziness or simply lethargy. So what could you do to relieve the pain without all the other baggage? Well, there’s topical creams. They can be applied right onto the pained area usually without fuss and are usually better accepted by patients because they are painless.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all the products sitting on drug store counters for pain relief. They all claim to have the same end goal, but you’re not sure which one is right for you. Some are for muscle pain, joint back or back pain, but there are also plenty of non-prescription creams that you could use for neuropathy pain. What you should be looking out for are the two predominant components in topical over-the-counter creams/ointments: capsaicin and herbs. Several creams use a combination of these ingredients amongst others for effective pain relief.
Capsaicin is a substance found in hot peppers, but interestingly, it also works as pain reliever for those with peripheral neuropathy symptoms. The slight burning sensation that is felt when capsaicin creams is applied counteracts the pain signals within your body, thus ceasing pain altogether temporarily. But capsaicin products aren’t for everyone. Some people can’t handle the initial pain sensation when it if first applied, despite proving to be an effective source for painful neuropathy.
Capsaicin products should not be applied on or near damaged, broken or irritated skin. It also needs to be applied several times a day and might take weeks for it to truly take effect.
Another common non-prescription alternative is topical herbal products. Herbal products contain anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relief) properties. They essentially trick the brain into thinking your skin has changed temperature with a cooling sensation, relieving inflammation. They also widen blood vessels in the area so that blood flow is increased, allowing nutrients to be delivered more efficiently for quicker healing.
One of the most common herbal ingredients that uses these pain relief tactics is menthol. Menthol comes from peppermint plants — specifically extracted from wild mint or corn mint, and is used in a majority of pain relief ointments.
Herbs with these properties have been in use since ancient times. From North America to South East Asia, those around the world have turned to herbal medicine for effective pain relief. Other herbs that contain such properties include, balm of gilead, Calendula flowers and oil of clove. It’s hard to deny herbal effectiveness when it has stood against the test of time.
So now that you know a few ingredients in over-the-counter topical creams, what are some products that you can look out for?
- Double Cap
- Icy Hot Arthritis Therapy
- Tiger balm
You won’t really know which one works best for you until you try it. You can go online and do your research, but everyone’s condition is different, and everyone’s body will react differently to different medication.
If you find that over-the-counter products aren’t quite working for you, then maybe it’s time to turn to a prescription cream or ointment. Most likely, your doctor will prescribe a topical agent with either clonidine or lidocaine. Clonidine is used to treat high blood pressure, but those with nerve pain will also find relief in that department. And lidocaine has mainly been used for mouth numbing in a dentist’s chair, but has shown to be effective against neuropathy pain as well.
So if you’re thinking about getting quick relief from topical creams, then it is definitely recommended. Creams can give your fast temporary relief if your pain is mild to moderate. If you’re dealing with a burden that’s a bit bigger, we advise you to talk to your doctor right away for the best route for relief. You might be given a prescription cream, taken daily for a period of time, or recommended toward other avenues altogether. Whatever your symptoms may be, ensure that your are taking care of your body and your health.