Background

Nerve pain (neuropathy) is characterized by pain that is burning, shooting (often to distant areas), or stabbing. It also has an “electric” quality about it. Tingling or numbness (paresthesias) and increased sensitivity with normal touch being painful (allodynia) are also commonly seen.

Nerve pain can be triggered by malfunction of nerves associated with illness (e.g., diabetes, low thyroid, etc.), infections (e.g., shingles), pinched nerves (e.g., from muscles or disc disease), nutritional deficiencies (e.g., vitamin B6 and B12), injury (e.g., stroke, tumors, spinal cord injury, and multiple sclerosis), fibromyalgia, and medication/treatment side effects.

Treatment

Recommended Supplements

Give these 6-12 months to work (it takes time to heal nerves), though you'll likely feel better much sooner.

Multi-nutrient powder

Nutritional support is critical! Use a good multi-nutrient powder along with a B complex capsule. This (along with the lipoic acid below) may take 6 months to kick in (but may begin working after a few weeks) — so start now.

Lipoic acid

Lipoic acid 300 mg 2 times a day.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Acetyl-L-Carnitine 1,000-3,000 mg a day (the studies used the higher dose but the lower dose may be enough). This has been studied in nerve pain from diabetes and also from cancer chemotherapy.

Vitamin D

Add vitamin D 2,000+ units a day. In one study, this decreased diabetes nerve pain by 47%.

Other Therapies & Advice

Do a blood test

Do blood testing to check for diabetes, low thyroid, or vitamin B12 deficiency (I give B12 injections if the B12 level is under 540 in nerve pain).

Medications

Lidoderm patches and topical gels

Many medications can be very helpful for nerve pain. For small areas, begin with the Lidoderm patch and topical gels. For large areas, or if these are not effective, use the oral medications.

Give the medicines and topical medications 2 weeks to work. If the medications cause side effects, start at a lower dose that is comfortable and raise it slowly as your body adapts. Give the natural remedies 3-6 months to work (they are going in to heal the nerve which takes time) though they often help much more quickly.

Topical pain gels (from compounding pharmacies; Your physician can call in the “Nerve Pain Lotion” to ITC Pharmacy at 888-349-5453 and they can mail it to you) are very helpful and, along with certain special medications, can be very helpful for nerve pain (apply twice a day and give them 2 weeks to work). If you suffer from nerve pain, read the nerve pain chapter in the book Pain Free 1-2-3.

Contributor: 

Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is a board certified internist and author of the popular free iPhone application “Cures A-Z,” which was ranked in the top 10 of all health/wellness downloads on iTunes. Dr. Teitelbaum is the author of the perennial bestseller From Fatigued to Fantastic! (Avery Penguin), which has sold over half a million copies; Pain Free 1-2-3 (McGraw-Hill); Three Steps to Happiness: Healing Through Joy (Deva Press); the Beat Sugar Addiction Now! series (Fair Winds Press);  Real Cause, Real Cure (Rodale Press); The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution (Penguin/Avery); and his latest, The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction (Fair Winds Press, 2015).