Peripheral Neuropathy - An Alternative Treatment for the Pain

By Myra Charleston

"He couldn’t stand for anything to touch his leg. Even when you would just wave your hand above it enough to touch the hair on his skin he would cringe." Barbara is talking about her 72-year-old father, Leeman West of Tennessee. Mr. West was diagnosed with diabetes in 1985 and is currently on insulin twice a day. According to his doctor, his neuropathy is from having prolonged diabetes.

Peripheral neuropathy – damage to peripheral nerves, which lead from the brain and spinal cord throughout the body, sometimes occurs as a complication of a generalized illness such as diabetes mellitus. In this disease, slow damage to the nerves is manifested in a tingling sensation in the feet and/or hands, spreading slowly to the trunk. Numbness may develop or the skin may become very sensitive. As in Mr. West’s case, there may be extreme pain. Because this slow damage to the nerves may become irreversible, early diagnosis is important. One of the major risks associated with this disease is the possibility of damaging a body part and being unaware of it due to the numbness.

Mr. West describes the pain as being like someone sticking an ice pick in his leg and twisting it around and around. He couldn’t stand for anyone to touch it and despite the strong pain medication, most of the time the pain was unrelieved. Barbara has noticed a connection between his sugar level and the pain. "When he is in great pain the sugar level seems to be higher."

No child likes to see an elderly parent in pain, so Barbara was on the lookout for anything that might help. "I found the oil in a local drug store where I live. The druggist always has something new for people to try in there. It's not a chain store so he has more freedom to put things in there." Barbara says "I first bought a sample of the cream and Dad said it helped some but we never got any more of it. He was trying everything he could, from Ben-Gay to Avon Moisturizer. Of course nothing helped. In fact, the Ben-Gay made his leg raw like it was burning it!" The next time she went to the drug store, she bought a bottle of emu oil for him to try; telling him that it couldn’t hurt to try. "It seemed to help. By this time the pain was so bad he really couldn't stand to touch it (the leg) to put the oil on it. But he sat still and suffered through it" Barbara recalled "The more he used it the better it felt. He wasn't even able to sleep at night for the pain waking him up. He began to be able to sleep better; the more he used the oil. He said now after about 4 months of using the oil his leg feels a whole lot better. He can even touch it now." Barbara went on to tell us that getting her father to try the oil was not difficult. " He told me yesterday they couldn't pay him to give up his emu oil for anything. He said he swears by it now."

Barbara can be reached at