Harvard Health Letter

Ask the doctor: Tips to reduce neuropathy pain

Q. Is there something to relieve severe neuropathy in someone's feet?

A. You are not alone: neuropathy is a remarkably common problem. Fortunately, there are several treatments that bring relief to most people who suffer with this condition. There are different types of neuropathy (more formally called polyneuropathy). I'll assume you have the most common type, called axonal neuropathy.

Neuropathy affects many of the nerves in your body. Each nerve is like a highway that connects your brain to the rest of your body. Signals from your brain travel down the nerves sending orders, such as the order for your muscles to move different parts of your body. Signals from your body travel up the nerves to your brain. For example, when your fingers touch something, signals from your fingers tell the brain how hot and how hard that thing is, and whether touching it causes pain. The longer a nerve is, the more likely it is to be affected by neuropathy. Since the nerves connecting your brain to your legs and feet are the longest, the symptoms of neuropathy almost always begin in and are worst in the feet, then the calves, and then the thighs.

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