The network of nerves in the body that controls muscle movement and transmits information such as touch or pain is part of the peripheral nervous system. If this becomes damaged, you may suffer from numbness, tingling, shooting pains or muscle weakness in the area, especially in your feet or hands.
This is known as peripheral neuropathy and affects around 10% of people over 55 in the UK. While further exploration still needs to be done, a recent research study has indicated that aromatherapy massage could offer a simple yet effective natural remedy for neuropathy pain relief.
Peripheral neuropathy can affect anyone but is most commonly found in people suffering from diabetes, in which case it is known as diabetic neuropathy. Peripheral nerve damage can also be caused as a result of shingles, physical injury or drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can vary depending on the type of peripheral nerve that has been damaged. Most commonly, damage is suffered to the sensory or motor nerves.
Some of the symptoms of sensory neuropathy and motor neuropathy include:
⦿ pins and needles in the feet and hands
⦿ shooting pains or a constant general numbness in the feet
⦿ involuntary muscle twitching and cramps
⦿ muscle weakness
If you have any of the above on a regular basis, it is a good idea to have a check up with your doctor to rule out peripheral neuropathy.
Using massage to soothe the pain of peripheral neuropathy is not for everyone. Some people feel that being touched is the last thing they want when they have pins and needles or a burning pain. However, many people use a complementary therapy such as massage to work alongside prescribed pharmaceuticals to bring further relief and reduce dependence on drugs.
Aromatherapy massage techniques incorporate essential oils into the treatment. The neurological effects of massage are believed to come from certain qualities that are naturally contained within essential oils and positively affect the body when they come into contact. Oil is absorbed into the body either through application directly to the skin after being mixed with lubricating carrier oils or through inhalation by use of a diffuser during the treatment.
Some of the most popular essential oils for easing pain include lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus and chamomile. In addition to these traditionally popular essential oils, a relatively newcomer which has been rapidly gaining popularity in recent years is the use of CBD oil in massage therapy for pain relief. The pain relieving benefits of cannabinoids have long been used for cancer patients, who also often suffer from peripheral neuropathy.
Certain sensory techniques, such as tapotement, that are commonly used in massage styles such as reflexology and acupressure can also help stimulate nerve endings. The masseuse uses the edges of her fingers to perform a succession of rapid taps on the skin, which in turn stimulates nerve endings. Peripheral neuropathy pain arises as a result of nerve damage so effective stimulation of those nerves may assist recovery.