Living with Paralysis: Battling Nerve Pain

October 1, 2019
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Spinal Cord Injury Neuropathic Pain

After surviving a spinal cord injury there are certain things that you must battle on an ongoing basis in order to thrive with paralysis. In a previous article, I talked about the importance of battling fatigue and today I’m going to talk about battling nerve pain.

Many people may wonder “can a paralyzed person feel pain”?

The short answer, absolutely.

Quadriplegic or paraplegic nerve pain is also known as spinal cord injury neuropathic pain frequently occurs at or below the level of injury. For me the nerve pain is concentrated in my right leg from my hip to my toes. The location will vary depending on the day.

Leg pain after spinal cord injury (also called radicular pain) is very common. There are other types of spinal cord injury neuropathic pain that you may be experiencing including:

  • Transitional zone pain (also called segmental pain) frequently occurs at the level of injury in a band-like pattern around the trunk, or it may involve the arms. 
  • SCI pain (also called central pain, dysesthetic pain, or diffuse pain) is the term used for neuropathic pain that occurs below the level of injury. This kind of pain frequently occurs all over the body rather than in a specific area. It can get worse if you are fatigued or stressed; smoke tobacco; or have bowel or bladder problems, pressure sores, or spasticity.

Regardless of the type of nerve pain you have, I’m sure if you’re like me you just want to get to the underlying cause or minimize the pain as best you can. Unfortunately with spinal cord injury pain it is often difficult to identify the stimulus. Improper signals from the damaged spinal cord may be to blame. So identifying strategies to minimize pain may be the most important part of battling nerve pain for those of us that are paralysis survivors.

I am of the opinion that the fewer drugs I take the better my body functions and the better I feel. Gabapentin, ibuprofen, Vicodin and other pain medications may be prescribed but I have found collection of natural remedies have been much more effective for the pain and also my overall health.

Natural Solutions for Neuropathic Pain

I have tried a variety of different natural solutions for neuropathic pain over the past eight years. I am going to review the ones with you that have had the most benefit to me. It’s important to try different things because no spinal cord injuries are the same. What has worked for me may not work for you. What has not been successful for me may be successful for you. There is so much individuality with our bodies and spinal cord injuries but it’s important to try different things until you find what helps you the most when it comes to battling nerve pain and other struggles of spinal cord injury or paralysis.

Standing Frame

As I’ve said several times in this blog the piece of equipment that is the most important to me other than my manual wheelchair is my standing frame. I have described how I purchased a standing frame and the impact it has made in my life in other blog posts. But I will say that standing every day for 30 to 60 minutes has made a tremendous difference in how I feel overall including nerve pain, spasms, fatigue, and vitality. Our bodies are designed to stand and when we can’t stand our body cannot function properly. Get a standing frame and get standing every day.

Massage and Stretching

I have been getting regular massages for years and it has made a tremendous difference in my nerve pain. My massage therapist also helps to stretch my legs and work out the tight muscles that tighten as a result of sitting on an ongoing basis.

Chiropractic and Acupuncture

I have tried both upper cervical chiropractic and acupuncture over the years to improve my quality of life after spinal cord injury. For me, chiropractic and specifically a unique type of chiropractic that is very gentle and precise called upper cervical chiropractic has been very effective at helping me to stay healthy since my injury. This type of chiropractic requires no twisting, popping, or stress on the spinal column and is safe for those who had spinal cord injuries. 

Acupuncture is something that many people have also seen good results with when it comes to nerve pain and other symptoms associated with spinal injury or paralysis. In my case, acupuncture led to some autonomic dysreflexia symptoms and did not help my nerve pain or other symptoms. I would recommend trying both upper cervical chiropractic and acupuncture to see what will work best for you.

Supplementation

Supplements have also helped me with my overall health and specifically with nerve pain. I take a variety of supplements every day and one of the best ones for reducing chronic inflammation in the body which can be associated with neuropathic pain is taking omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil).

In addition to omega-3 and other supplements in the past 2 to 3 months, I began experimenting with CBD oil and creams. Many people in the spinal cord injury community have had great success with CBD products for nerve pain and other symptoms.

I obtained free different types of CBD products; a CBD oil tincture, a CBD oil capsule, and a CBD cream. I tried all three of the products at different points to determine the effectiveness in my own body. After a trial of the tincture and the capsules, I found that both caused some issues with my digestion including constipation but the CBD cream was a winner for me.

My wife rubs the CBD cream on my right leg where I have nerve pain from my toes all the way to my hip every day before I get out of bed and I have seen a tremendous difference in nerve pain. On a bad day, my nerve pain can be a 7 or 8 on a 10 scale (10 being the worst pain you’ve ever felt). I was having nerve pain every day and having severe nerve pain about 2 days per week. Since I have been using the CBD cream the severe days have gone away completely. I still have mild pain on a daily basis but it is significantly improved.

I have also noticed a difference with my sleep since I have been using the CBD cream. Before using it I would wake up and not be able to go back to sleep for three or four hours the night about one or two times per week. Since using this cream, if I wake up I am able to go right back to sleep. This has made a tremendous difference in my fatigue and energy level as well.

You can purchase the CBD cream that I am using here. They also have other CBD products if you would like to try ones that may work best for you.

I want to encourage you to keep battling. 

Keep battling that nerve pain and don’t let it beat you.

You can thrive with paralysis!

Also, I want to encourage you to check out our Free E-Books by clicking the images below:

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About the Author: Bill Davis

Dr. Bill Davis survived a spinal cord injury on November 26, 2011. After years of hopelessness he found a renewed purpose and is now on a mission to share hope and healing with the paralysis community for the glory of God.

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