My wife, 74, is in so much pain she can’t walk – is there a cure for damaged nerves?

AN eye test and the resulting prescriptions are too costly for many people.

A survey of 2,000 adults who wear glasses, by EuroEyes, found 34 per cent skip eye tests to save money, and a third cannot afford their monthly contact lens subscription.

Olivia WestSun columnist Dr Zoe Williams gives her health advice to readers[/caption]

You only need a check-up every two years, the NHS says, unless you are concerned and have worsening eyesight.

An eye test could also save your life by indicating signs of heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Some people are entitled to a free NHS eye test every two years.

This includes those under 16, 16 to 18-year-olds in education, over-60s, those who have diabetes and those who are registered as partially sighted or blind.

You’re also entitled if you have glaucoma, or if a close relative has it and you are over 40, or if you or your partner receive income support, or you’re under the age of 20 and the dependant of someone receiving income support.

There are also ten types of vouchers to help pay for glasses.

To find out more, visit the NHS website and search “eye tests”.

If you’re not eligible, shop around for the best price privately and see if you can pay for services on finance, if it is suitable for you.

Here’s what readers have asked me this week.

Q: PLEASE can you tell me if there is a cure for damaged nerve ends in your feet or any kind of medication you can take to help the pain?

It’s terrible to see my wife, who is 74, in such terrible discomfort.

GettyTherapies such as acupuncture can support people to cope better while living with painful conditions[/caption]

She cannot even walk.

A: Unfortunately in the majority of cases, there is no cure for damaged nerve endings.

But there are a variety of different options for treatments which may help to alleviate or lessen symptoms.

Investigations are usually carried out when neuropathic pain of the feet first presents to a doctor, as some causes, such as B12 or folate deficiency, diabetes and thyroid issues, can be treated, which may alleviate symptoms and stop further progression.

There are a few medications which can cause peripheral neuropathy too – especially chemotherapy treatments for some cancers, or some antibiotics if taken for months, such as metronidazole or nitrofurantoin.

There are many possible causes of peripheral neuropathy but in some cases, no cause is found and this is called idiopathic neuropathy.

Paracetamol and ibuprofen usually do little to alleviate nerve pain.

But there are a number of medicines that can be effective at calming the nerves down, such as amitriptyline and duloxetine, which are typically used to treat depression, and gabapentin and pregabalin, used to treat epilepsy.

Capsaicin cream, made from chillies, can also help some people.

But there is a national shortage of this at the moment, so it’s worth checking with the pharmacist if it’s available.

Some people benefit from alternative therapies such as acupuncture and talking therapies, such as CBT, can support people to cope better while living with painful conditions like this.

Feel shut out by GP

Q: I’M having difficulty getting an appointment at my GP surgery.

They have an online system called Klinik.

My wife and I are both in our mid-seventies and not very good with computers.

They won’t allow me to make an appointment on the phone or even in person, and tell me that I can explain my symptoms to a receptionist who will fill in the online form for me.

I don’t feel comfortable giving my symptoms to an unqualified person on the phone.

I have recently been diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma and I feel that I am being discriminated against as I am unable to make appointments other than online.

A: I’m sorry to hear about your diagnosis and can understand how frustrating this must be for you.

It must seem like general practice is constantly changing the way they operate.

You’re right, things do keep changing to try to better manage the severe supply and demand issues due to not enough GPs or appointments being available.

Practices are being encouraged to adopt a new way of offering appointments and receptionists have been trained across the country to be able to triage patients’ requests to get them to the right clinical team member in the most timely fashion.

So whether you input information online on a form, or explain over the phone, that information goes to the receptionist first.

Let me reassure you that reception staff are bound by the same privacy and confidentiality promise that doctors and nurses are, so they’ll never disclose anything you tell them.

Secondly, when they know a bit about why you’re visiting, they’re able to triage you a bit better.

It could be that there’s a GP with a speciality or interest in your needs at the clinic, so you can be directed to him or her – the most appropriate doctor for your condition.

Alternatively, it might be that a physiotherapist, mental health worker or paramedic is well-equipped to deal with the issue and can do so the same or the next day.

Tip of the week

DID you know that difficulty staying on top of finances is an early symptom of dementia?

Does your loved one struggle to count change, understand a bank statement or make bad financial choices?

If you are concerned, speak to your GP and get advice from the Alzheimer’s Society (0333 150 3456).

Q: I’VE been feeling very tearful of late.

I’ve had an operation on my right ankle and foot, making it difficult to get around.

GettyA woman asks Dr Zoe why she is so unhappy[/caption]

I’ve been told that it would take some time to heal but never for one minute did I think it would be this hard.

I don’t like asking for help at the best of times and I’ve never been one to sit around.

Why am I so down?

A: It sounds like you’re having a hard time with the inevitable loss of independence that can come when someone is recuperating from surgery.

It can be an isolating time and a knock for your mental wellbeing, so this is a time to be kind to yourself and not expect too much.

If you have people around you to lean on, please do so.

Our nearest and dearest love us and often, if you’re massively independent, those who love us can find it hard to help, so they really like it when they’re given permission to step in and provide support.

Think of it this way: How do you feel when you’ve helped someone you care about?

Great, right?

Well, you’re robbing your loved ones of the opportunity to feel good if you don’t let them in to help you.

Just simply say, “Actually I’m not doing that great, I could do with a bit of cheering up.”

Can you do that?

Try and fill your days or times when you’re not at work with little acts of self-kindness and care.

It could be your favourite meal, lighting some candles or getting lost in a good book.

Make sure you are resting adequately.

There’s the old adage that everything looks better after a good night’s sleep and it’s true.

Resting is our body’s way of recuperating so make sure you are getting plenty of quality sleep.

It’s tough getting better after surgery and if you’re in pain and struggling to get around, that is a big lifestyle change to what you are normally used to.

So don’t be too hard on yourself.

And finally, it’s OK to have a good cry.

Sometimes it’s just exactly what we need.

Just remember to dry your eyes and do something that makes you happier afterwards.

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