Manage underlying conditions
The best way to prevent peripheral neuropathy is to carefully manage any medical condition that puts you at risk. That means controlling your blood sugar level if you have diabetes or talking to your doctor about safe and effective treatments if you think you may have a problem with alcohol.
Make healthy lifestyle choices
Whether or not you have a medical condition, eating a healthy diet that's rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein can help keep your nerves healthy.
For example, nerve damage is common if you have a vitamin B-12 deficiency. The best food sources of vitamin B-12 are meats, fish, eggs, low-fat dairy foods and fortified cereals. If you're a strict vegetarian, fortified cereals are a good source of vitamin B-12 for you, but you may also want to talk to your doctor about B-12 supplements.
Regular exercise also is important. If possible, try to get at least 30 minutes to one hour of exercise at least three times a week.
Be aware of factors that may cause nerve damage. Avoid these activities and environmental factors as much as possible:
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- Repetitive motions
- Cramped positions
- Exposure to toxic chemicals
- Smoking tobacco
- Drinking excessive alcohol
- Peripheral neuropathy fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/peripheralneuropathy/detail_peripheralneuropathy.htm. Accessed March 12, 2013.
- Peripheral neuropathy. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/peripheral_nervous_system_and_motor_unit_disorders/peripheral_neuropathy.html?qt=peripheral%20neuropathy&alt=sh. Accessed March 12, 2013.
- Longo DL, et al. Harrison's Online. 18th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=9148461. Accessed March 21, 2013.
- Ropper AH, et al. Adams & Victor's Principles of Neurology. 9th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2009. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=3641268&searchStr=peripheral+neuropathy#3641268. Accessed March 21, 2013.
- Neurological diagnostic tests and procedures. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/misc/diagnostic_tests.htm. Accessed March 19, 2013.
- Rutkove SB. Overview of polyneuropathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 21, 2013.
- Feldman EL, et al. Treatment of diabetic neuropathy. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 21, 2013.
- Neuropathic pain. The Merck Manuals: The Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals. http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/neurologic_disorders/pain/neuropathic_pain.html?qt=neuropathic%20pain&alt=sh. Accessed March 22, 2013.
- Lewis R. Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy: Treatment and prognosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 22, 2013.
- Fridey JL, et al. Prescription and technique of therapeutic plasma exchange. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed March 22, 2013.
- Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed March 22, 2013.
- Dietary supplement fact sheet: Vitamin B12. Office of Dietary Supplements. http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/. Accessed March 22, 2013.
- Dyck, PJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 26, 2013.
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