Treatment for Neuropathy In Legs and Feet
When looking at treatment options for neuropathy pain in your legs and feet, it’s important to lay out how you evaluate and prioritize different features. For us, at Socks For Neuropathy, we ranked five of the most popular (non-medical) treatment options based on the following criteria:
- Effectiveness in treating or reducing the pain in your legs and feet
- Ease of use
- Ease of access
- Social proof in the form of clinical studies, verified testimonials, independent reviews, and brand credibility
For example, a home remedy or technology that has a very low price tag may be appealing, but if it’s lacking social proof or if it’s difficult to use, well it may just be a waste of money and keep you in pain longer than you need to be. So we weighed these different criteria.
One more note, we chose not to include prescription medicine or surgeries in this evaluation, as we think it’s best to leave that conversation to you and your doctor.
So now that you have an idea of how we evaluated the treatments, let’s get to the…
The Top 5 Treatments
#5. Cayenne Pepper
Capsaicin, one of the key ingredients found in cayenne peppers may help reduce neuropathy pain. The evidence comes from 7 studies conducted around 2013, involving 2,442 patients, where the authors found some evidence that a high concentration of capsaicin may benefit those with “HIV-neuropathy and peripheral diabetic neuropathy.” However, the authors concluded the evidence was “very low quality” meaning they are uncertain about the results and more studies are needed.
So Cayenne peppers score low for effectiveness, but at least they are very accessible, easy to add to foods, low cost, and a lot of people tout an array of benefits. So while the upside may be small, the downside risk of adding some more cayenne peppers to your diet seems very low and therefore it makes our top 5 list for now.
#4. TENS Unit
A Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation (TENS) unit works by applying electric currents to the areas of your feet and legs that are in pain. It’s a great example of a product that has a lot of social proof (this unit has over 2,000 positive reviews on Amazon with many mentioning their neuropathy pain) but it’s a bit controversial in the science community and it doesn’t score as high on ease of use. For example, it’s not as simple as something like wearing neuropathy socks or adding more spices to your typical dinner. This study found that “stimulation intensity” may be a critical factor, but cites that, all-in-all, the sizes and degrees of the studies are not adequate enough to draw scientific conclusions just yet.
However, similar to Cayenne peppers, TENS units score moderately in “Ease of Use” and “Effectiveness” but are surprisingly low cost, easy to buy on Amazon, have a lot of customer testimonials, and seem like a low risk option.
#3. Mental & Physical Activity
I’m combining a lot into this category (maybe I’ll expand the list to a Top 10 soon…) but for now this category includes daily activities like: exercise, not smoking, meditation and giving yourself time to relax with things like warm baths and calming music. These are all things that sharpen your body and mind to diminish the affects of neuropathy and hopefully reduce the pain you’re feeling in your legs and feet.
I’m sure you’ve heard this many times before, but exercise doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon. Rather, it’s more-so about movement and consistency. I’m writing this article during Covid-19 with social distancing, and my early morning coffee walks (sometimes with my girlfriend and dog as you can see to the left) go a long way to helping me prepare for a day at home. A walk gets my muscles moving, fresh air in my lungs, vitamin D on my skin, and it gives me time to mentally focus and “check in with myself” as meditation apps are notorious for saying. If you haven’t tried the free Strava app for tracking your exercise or the free Calm app for meditation, I highly recommend both. And here’s one of my favorite Spotify playlists for relaxing music that ties in nicely with those morning walks.
However, I know many of you are in so much pain that its hard to even stand up, let alone walk – so for that reason, do whatever you can to move. Try to just do a little bit more today than yesterday, and introduce mental and physical exercise in-conjunction with the #1 and #2 treatments we’re about to get into which should help as well.
#2. Vitamins / Nutrients
With some cases of PN specifically linked to vitamin deficiencies, it’s really important you take care of yourself (see above) and make sure you’re getting enough nutrients. B Vitamins especially have been shown in some small studies to help with nerve health and reduce neuropathy symptoms. Regardless of the studies, it’s important to take stock of what you’re putting into your body and consider quality supplements if you’re not getting enough from daily life. Just be careful, for example vitamin B6 at high enough levels for a long period of time could be toxic and actually cause more neuropathy. The Foundation for PN published a handy guide on alternative treatments and they include robust details on nutrients.
While the clinical studies on B vitamins specifically for neuropathy relief is still small, it’s a fact that eating healthy and getting proper amounts of nutrients helps your body perform at it’s best, so that’s why I rank this broadly as #2 on this list of treatments.
#1. Neuropathy Socks
As the name of this website suggests, I’m a big proponent of using socks as treatment for neuropathy in your legs and feet. Wearing particular socks is very easy to incorporate into your daily routine, and new technologies like Voxx’s HPT are clinically proven to help. However, not all neuropathy socks are the same. Some socks cost $200 per pair while others can be as low as $8 bucks.
What’s important to look at is the science, comfort, price, and reliability all wrapped up together.
That’s why I consistently rank VoxxLife products at the top of my lists. The socks from VoxxLife start at just $35 per pair or they sometimes run a special: 3 pairs for $70. Like most other neuropathy socks, they include compression, but Voxx socks also include anti-microbial materials so they won’t smell even after multiple days of wear. So if you’re looking at the price and thinking $35 for a pair is high, you only need a few pairs to last you between laundry days.
But at the core of this recommendation is Voxx’s HPT Technology, which you can read more about here.
A recent clinical study found that 941 out of 1,000 diabetic neuropathy patients reported significant pain relief from wearing these specific socks. Their average pain level was a “7” or “severe” before the study, and it decreased down to a “2” or “mild” within a week of wearing the socks.
These socks check our criteria for effectiveness, price, ease of use, ease of access, and social proof.
There are a wide array of treatments options for neuropathy, especially if you’re feeling the effects in your peripheral nerves like those in your legs and feet. The best approach is to incorporate some or all of these treatments. Diet and exercise are fundamental to a healthy life, cayenne peppers pack a delicious punch, mental awareness and relaxation are fun to work on, socks are comfortable and easy to incorporate, and even a TENS unit could be worth a try. The best treatment is the one that works best for you. Let us know if you have any questions, feedback or suggestions.