As we look at how life choices may affect your nerves, we need to start by pointing out the fact that pain really gets a bad rap. Too often, it’s thought of as being a negative thing.
If you stop and think about what is really happening, though, pain is actually quite useful. Without it, you cannot be aware of certain threats to your health and wellbeing. For example, if you were unable to feel pain, you could potentially put your hand down on a hot stove burner without knowing it needs to be removed ASAP. This can quickly cause lasting damage. Conversely, healthy nerves will trigger a painful sensation that tells your brain “Move the hand!”
Now, numbness is only one problem when it comes to neuropathy (nerve damage). Other issues include painful sensations that simply shouldn’t exist. You may have burning, tingling, stabbing, or electrical pain shooting up from a foot, even though there is no other issue. This all means it is important to know how to keep your nerves functioning correctly. The best starting point for preventing problems, of course, is with knowing how they develop.
In some cases, nerve problems happen as the result of tumors—either cancerous (malignant) or benign—that grow on nerves or press against them. Autoimmune disorders and other diseases can also be at play. These causes of nerve damage are often out of your hands. There are, however, lifestyle choices that can affect nerve health, including:
- Excessive sugar intake. Sugar may taste good, but (in enough quantity) can do some really bad things to the body. One of the problems with eating too much sugar is that it can damage nerve tissue. This certainly applies to the disease that stems from excessive blood sugar levels – diabetes. Diabetic individuals are at higher risk of neuropathy than the general population. This is one of the reasons it is so important to manage the disease.
- Vitamin deficiencies. As with any type of body tissue, nerves need proper nutrition for vitality and optimal function. Specifically, B vitamins (B-1, B-6, and B-12), vitamin E, and niacin are needed to help keep nerves strong.
- Excessive alcohol consumption. This root cause of nerve damage actually ties in with vitamin deficiencies. The reason for that can be attributed to the fact individuals afflicted with alcoholism tend to make poor dietary choices.
- Exposure to toxins. If you spend time around toxic or poisonous materials—including certain chemicals and heavy metals—you can possibly sustain nerve damage.
- Pressure on a nerve. As mentioned earlier, sometimes nerve function is impaired by pressure from a tumor. It’s almost impossible to control that kind of situation, but there are times when pressure on a nerve happens as the result of repetitive motion or spending extended time in certain positions.
If you are having nerve issues in your lower limbs, we may be able to help. Sunshein Podiatry provides advanced treatment for lower limb neuropathies. Contact our Centerville, OH office for more information—or to request your appointment—by calling (937) 435-7477.