Living With Peripheral Neuropathy: The Day-to-Day Life


November 8, 2022

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For patients suffering from peripheral neuropathy, some of the most difficult daily tasks used to be simple and without thought. Because of the numbing, stabbing, tingling, and burning pains that persist in the fingers, hands, toes, and feet, many patients lose the ability to maintain what they would call a normal lifestyle. 

In other words, peripheral neuropathy patients have a diminished quality of life. 

For loved ones of these patients, the most difficult aspect of peripheral neuropathy is understanding the condition and learning how they can help with something they don’t completely understand. With peripheral neuropathy, understanding the day-to-day conditions of a patient is paramount in order to seek care and treatment.

5 Peripheral Neuropathy Complications

Patients who suffer from severe cases of peripheral neuropathy will often encounter its effects the second they step out of bed. Shooting and burning pain just walking around, inability to participate in normal physical movements and activities, and fear and anxiety of worsening symptoms when engaged in any activity in the presence of loved ones. 

Patients who are elderly and have lived with the prolonged effects of peripheral neuropathy are at an increased risk of danger simply when getting out of bed. With a loss of balance being one of the most common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, elderly patients have often experienced twisted ankles, hyper-extended knees, bruising, and even broken bones. 

In turn, balance problems and falls resulting in fractures are some of the most common causes of hospitalizations.

But to understand the full extent to which peripheral neuropathy can affect a person’s life, it is crucial to look at all the complications that can arise from not managing this condition properly. Let’s look at these complications below.

The following are complications associated with Peripheral Neuropathy:

1. Injuries, Wounds, and Ulcers From Loss of Sensation in Neuropathy

One of the most common symptoms of neuropathy is numbness – or a loss of feeling that usually begins in the hands and feet. At first, mild numbness might not feel like a major problem. However, over time, damaged sensory nerve endings become unable to send signals to the brain related to sensations of pain, touch, vibration, or temperature. 

In turn, you may no longer be able to feel the pain deriving from an infected wound in your feet, or you might inadvertently expose your limbs to extreme heat or cold. This can lead to wounds and injuries which, if unaddressed, can become infected and lead to ulcers and sores.

2. Cardiovascular Autonomic Neuropathy

Neuropathy commonly affects sensory and motor nerves, which are the nerves responsible for carrying signals to the brain relating to touch, temperature, and muscle movements. However, in some cases, nerve damage can affect the autonomic nerves, which have the role of transmitting to the brain signals relating to body functions we don’t have direct control over. These functions include blood pressure and heartbeat. 

In severe cases, damage to the autonomic nerves responsible for regulating the heartbeat can lead to what’s called cardiac autonomic neuropathy. This type of neuropathy can cause erratic heartbeat and resting tachycardia, leading to a fivefold increase in the risk of death by heart attack (myocardial infarction).

Currently, cardiac autonomic neuropathy is considered to be one of the most common severe complications of diabetes.

3. Digestive Issues Due to Autonomic Nerve Damage

If autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves responsible for controlling the digestive system, you might experience a range of gastrointestinal problems. Some of the most common complications of gastrointestinal autonomic neuropathy include:

  • Digestive issues such as constipation and diarrhea
  • Abnormal sensations such as loss of appetite and feeling full after a few bites of food
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling bloated 
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Heartburn 
  • Gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying)

Problems with the digestive system might make it harder to control blood sugar levels, especially in people with diabetes, and can lead to nutritional deficiencies. These consequences, in turn, can worsen neuropathy and lead to further nerve damage.

4. Bladder Control Loss

Loss of bladder control – a condition called neurogenic bladder – is caused by damage to the autonomic and motor nerves involved with the correct functioning of the urinary system. 

This condition, which is most commonly caused by diabetic neuropathy, can lead to difficulty sensing a full bladder, difficulty urinating, urinary incontinence, and inability to empty the bladder during urination. 

These side effects can lead to further complications, including urinary tract infections.

5. Gangrene and Amputations

As seen above, the inability to feel pain and discomfort deriving from an infected wound or exposure to extreme heat and cold can lead to ulcers. If not properly addressed, the infection can cause the death of surrounding tissue, which causes what’s called “gangrene”. 

If not immediately addressed, gangrene might require limb amputation. 

Currently, 25-90% of all amputations are attributable to diabetes mellitus and related diabetic neuropathies.

Along with the various sensations experienced by patients in their feet, it’s the fear that they will lose those feet with prolonged peripheral neuropathy after numbness sets in permanently and infections and ulcers dramatically increase the health risks of living with peripheral neuropathy. 

With these symptoms being a very real probability, patients would do well to recognize the metastasis of their peripheral neuropathy pain into ulcers and a final amputation.

However, fear of this condition materializing into something worse is not necessarily a bad thing. Often it is fear of a condition getting worse that motivates patients or their loved ones to seek treatment for that condition. Unfortunately, the reality of seeking effective treatment is troublesome at best. 

As patients live day-to-day with the effects of peripheral neuropathy, many rely on the aid of NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) or consider the life-altering effects of drastic and invasive surgery.

The Side Effects Of NSAID Dependency In Peripheral Neuropathy Patients

Nearly 60% of Americans battling chronic pain use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) regularly to manage their condition. These medications are certainly accessible and affordable, but patients should not underestimate the risks and side effects they are exposing themselves to.

With NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen, patients often become dependent and require regular doses which can cause unwanted side effects that include:

Gastrointestinal (Gi) Bleeding

The chronic use of NSAIDs over long periods can compromise the health of the gastrointestinal system. In particular, these drugs cause injury to the gastrointestinal mucosa (the inner lining that protects the digestive tract). 

In 1-2% of people taking NSAIDs regularly to manage their neuropathic pain, damage to the mucosa can cause lesions and internal bleeding. This happens because NSAIDs have an inhibiting effect on the platelets, which are the blood cells responsible for healing wounds. 

When left unaddressed, GI bleeding can have severe consequences, including shock, anemia, and inhibited blood flow.

Myocardial Infarction

Studies have shown that taking NSAIDs regularly for any length of time can lead to an increased risk of developing a heart attack (myocardial infarction). And, this can happen in as little as a week!

This is because non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs affect how the chemicals responsible for preventing blood clots work, making obstructions in blood vessels and arteries more likely. Additionally, NSAIDs can increase the body’s retention of fluids and salt by inhibiting the correct functioning of the kidneys. In turn, high levels of salt can cause hypertension or high blood pressure. 

The risk of developing a myocardial infarction is higher among people with existing heart conditions.


As seen above, taking NSAIDs can increase the likelihood of blood clots. What’s more, NSAIDs can cause the narrowing of blood vessels (vasoconstriction) by inhibiting the proper functioning of prostaglandins, which are the chemicals in charge of relaxing veins and arteries. 

Combined, these effects can cut out the blood supply to the brain and cause ischaemic strokes.

Peptic Ulcer

Peptic ulcers are lesions of the lining of the stomach or of the first part of the small intestine. If left untreated, they can lead to severe consequences, including stomach cancer, obstruction, and internal bleeding. 

It is estimated that NSAIDs cause 10-30% of all peptic ulcers by inhibiting the chemicals in the gastrointestinal system responsible for protecting the mucosa.

Acute Renal Failure

As seen above, NSAIDs cause the narrowing of blood vessels and reduce the levels of chemicals (prostaglandins) responsible for relaxing veins and arteries. This reduces the blood flow to the kidneys and inhibits their ability to work properly. 

In turn, waste material, toxins, and salt begin to build up in the kidneys, which can lead to Acute Renal Failure, a severe condition that can be fatal if not immediately addressed. Since aging causes a natural loss of kidney function, Acute Renal Failure is more likely among patients aged over 65.

As patients worry and fret over a solution to their peripheral neuropathy pain, the desire to seek out invasive surgery increases. Many who seek out surgery are accompanied by understandable anxiety– a fear of cost and irreparable damage. 

Patients who are faced with the option of surgery and consider it seriously will often experience anxiety because of their lack of options and education involving peripheral neuropathy and its treatment.

The Cost Of Living With Peripheral Neuropathy And How Relatyv Can Help

Doctors who are accustomed to performing the surgeries would do well to treat patients with patience through their anxiety with education and one-on-one time, if possible. 

Unfortunately, many doctors do not take the time to educate their patients about the side effects of invasive surgery or the surprising costs associated with that surgery. In the end, living with peripheral neuropathy is costly.

Some of the costs include:

Dosage And Dosing-Schedule Adjustments Of PIs

Common treatments prescribed for peripheral neuropathy include NSAIDs and other over-the-counter pain relievers as well as anticonvulsant drugs, antidepressants, and topical medications such as capsaicin.

Beyond the cost of these medications, patients also have to deal with the expenses related to adjusting their dosage over time as their disease progresses. 

Although these costs might vary from one person to another, statistics conducted in 2006 showed that, in Canada, patients with neuropathy faced $1,137 every 3 months in direct costs (77% of which were attributable to medications, prescriptions, and specialist visits) and $1,430 in indirect costs.

PI Treatment Discontinuation And Switching

Although neuropathy is a widespread condition, it remains challenging to diagnose and treat. This is because this disease can have several underlying causes and can manifest itself with a range of symptoms. What’s more, around a third of cases of neuropathy have no known cause (idiopathic neuropathy). 

This causes patients and healthcare providers to undergo long periods of trial and error to find a treatment that is effective and only causes tolerable side effects. Undergoing several lines of treatment and switching from one therapy to another can be expensive for patients. 

According to 2019 estimations, the first line of treatment costs patients an average of $23,183, while subsequent therapies can add up to $37,880 or more.

Medications To Address The Pain

The cost of pain medications can vary, often according to the severity of symptoms and advancement of the disease. However, the economic cost of chronic pain deriving from neuropathy is certainly not negligible. 

The total cost of prescription medications recommended to patients battling chronic pain in the US is $17.8 billion annually. Additionally, individuals with chronic pain are estimated to pay $7,726 more than people with no pain in healthcare costs each year.


In some cases, neuropathy can be caused by soft and hard tissues (like bones, ligaments, and tendons) pressing on a nerve. This can happen in the case of conditions such as Carpal and Cubital Tunnel Syndromes. Additionally, health events like direct trauma can cause bone fractures, tendon ruptures, and mechanical issues that can damage a nerve.

In these cases, patients might be recommended to undergo surgical procedures that aim to decompress or free a nerve. These procedures are not only expensive, but they can also lead to a cascade of indirect costs, such as lost wages, missed days at work, and expensive rehabilitation therapies. 

For example, undergoing a Carpal Tunnel Release Surgery can cost around $3540 and involve a recovery period that can go from 3-4 months to a year.

How Relatyv Can Help You Prevent Surgery

Facing the prospect of having to undergo surgery is not only financially difficult but also emotionally straining, and physically taxing. In the end, patients who live through these troubles want a treatment that is effective, affordable, and accessible.

There are many causes of peripheral neuropathy ranging from diabetic-induced neuropathy to medication-induced neuropathy. 

Regardless of the causes, symptoms, or history of peripheral neuropathy, Relatyv offers a next generation solution to peripheral neuropathy pain with its proprietary Neurofunctional Pain Management treatment protocol. 

Neurofunctional Pain Management  treatment sessions are twice a week for one hour and the experience is social with patients engaging with physicians and staff the entire time they are in treatment. Neurofunctional Pain Management  is a combination of high pulse electrical stimulation and specialized hydration therapy that produces an enhanced pain reduction effect that can last for many months after a patient completes their course of treatment. Neurofunctional Pain Management  is not only effective at treating peripheral neuropathy but is also highly effective at treating a wide range of chronic pain conditions such as back pain, knee pain and joint pain, chronic migraines and headaches, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain stemming from accidents or surgery.

Relatyv is on a mission to relieve pain, restore health, and magnify quality of life across the nation without medication, surgery, or invasive procedures. Out vision is to be the first thought, first choice, and first step in the journey of chronic pain management.

About the Author

Will is a healthcare executive, innovator, entrepreneur, inventor, and writer with a wide range of experience in the medical field. Will has multiple degrees in a wide range of subjects that give depth to his capability as an entrepreneur and capacity to operate as an innovative healthcare executive.

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