Diabetic Neuropathy is a painful nerve-damaging disorder generally believed to be caused by high levels of sugar in the blood. This neurological disorder caused by diabetes affects the different parts of your nervous system, thus damaging your systems and organs severely. A study conducted by the U.S Department of Health & Human Sciences revealed that almost 60% to 70% of diabetic patients get affected by some form of Neuropathy.
In this form of diabetic neuropathy, the nerves in your feet and legs are usually affected first, followed by the nerves in your hands and arms.
The effects of peripheral neuropathy on your feet can range from mildly annoying to painfully sensitive. The symptoms are often worse at night.
These symptoms include one or more of the following:
– Tingling or burning sensations, especially in the soles of your feet
– Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain or changes in temperature
– Sharp pains in your feet, especially in the sole
– Cramps, most often in the calf muscles or in the angle between the foot and the leg
– Heightened sensitivity to touch, even the weight of a bed sheet can be agonizing for some of us
– Muscle weakness
– Loss of reflexes, especially in the ankle
– Loss of balance and coordination
– Serious foot problems, such as ulcers, infections, deformities, and pain in the bones and joints.
Carefully monitoring your blood sugar levels and keeping them within the normal healthy range as advised by your doctor, is helpful for preventing and treating diabetic neuropathy. Prevention and early treatment are important because the cause of the condition is nerve damage. Once nerves are damaged they have a poor ability to heal.
Diabetic Neuropathy and Excercise
Exercise can prevent these symptoms from getting worse. It can also help alleviate them.
The problem is that, depending on the severity of your neuropathy, these symptoms interfere with your ability to exercise.
So, how to exercise when you have diabetic neuropathy?
Once you’ve got your doctor’s advice, don’t feel you have to jump right in and exercise a lot. Slowly integrating exercise into your life is a better way to ensure you’ll continue it. Doing too much too quickly can cause problems. Start with simply five minutes of additional motion a day, even something as simple as moving your ankles up and down. As you feel more comfortable, include a little more time every day. The American Diabetes Association suggests building up to exercising 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week.
Getting out and walking is ideal for most Type 2 diabetics, diabetic neuropathy, and weight control. Diabetics who perform aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming, or riding a bicycle, help to keep down their insulin resistance, the hallmark of Type 2 diabetes. Walking also helps maintain circulation to the feet, so the nerves can get the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy and functioning properly. It also burns from 200 to 400 calories per hour, depending upon your speed and weight.
Diabetic Neuropathy – Remedies for Pain:
Eating a Balanced Diet:
1. Lowering Carbohydrate intake (white pasta, white sugar, white potatoes are high in carbs)
2. Increasing your daily intake of healthy grains, fruits and vegetables. (Bran cereal, whole wheats)
3. Lowering your blood pressure (Reduce your stress level) Medical experts recommend that diabetics maintain blood pressure levels no higher than 130 over 80.
Using Topical Pain Cream:
Studies found that topical pain creams containing capsaicin and lidocaine can significantly reduce the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy. In one study, more than half of those suffering from nerve pain found significant relief when using the topical cream once a day. Prescription grade topical pain creams are a good choice for those dealing with diabetic neuropathy and most insurance companies cover the entire cost while others may charge a co-pay.
Simple to Use:
Apply a small dab of the topical pain cream to your skin and use your hands to rub it into your skin. Concentrate on the areas where you experience the highest levels of pain. The pain cream penetrates deep into the skin and changes the way the blood vessels and cells respond to pain. Using the cream one or more times every day will help you lead a healthy and active life without your diabetic neuropathy getting in your way.
Diabetic Neuropathy – Sleep disturbances
As it can be very intrusive, neuropathy can disturb your sleep in a number of ways.
The pain and weird sensations (especially in the legs) of neuropathy can make it hard to fall asleep.
Many people find themselves focusing on their pain during the evening when daytime distractions are at a minimum which makes it more difficult to get to asleep. The pain can also kick in during the night and wake you up.
Overcoming the effects of neuropathy on sleep
There are several things you can do to overcome the intrusiveness of neuropathy:
 You can use medicines, both over-the-counter and prescription medications. However these can cause drowsiness during the day, as well as other side affects and can cause dependency.
 You can try non-pharmacological treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation techniques, stress management, and acupuncture.
 You can follow the tips below for getting a good night’s sleep. This is probably the best thing you can do.
Diabetic Neuropathy and alpha-lipoic acid
In early 2013 I read somewhere that thatalpha-lipoic acid (aka thioctic acid) can relieve the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Naturally I was interested as the pains in my feet were coming more frequent and more intense.
Research on the internet, however, did not turn up any reputable clinical reports that proved the case, so I have begun a self-experiment to find out whether these claims have any substance in fact.
Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is an antioxidant (a substance that prevents or delays some types of cell damage) that plays important roles in the mitochondria. The mitochondria in your cells convert energy into forms that can be used by those cells. ALA works as a co-factor for several enzymes related to the metabolism of energy. It is produced naturally inside the body but you can also take it as a dietary supplement.
Taken as a supplement in high doses, ALA is said to act as an antioxidant and to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce the symptoms of nerve damage. It may also improve circulation. According to the makers of ALA supplements these claims have been tested clinically but I have not been able to confirm these trials using internet research.
In conjunction with any form of diabetic neuropathy treatment, there must also be a strategy to reduce blood sugar levels and prevent the development of more severe symptoms. The best way to do this is to control glucose levels with a healthy balanced diet, regular monitoring and some daily exercise. This can not only provide pain relief but can also reduce the risk of development.
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