Diabetic Neuropathy: Self-Care Tips for Managing the Pain

Diabetes impacts about one out of three adults in the U.S. Nerve damage from diabetes—or diabetic neuropathy—can cause serious pain.  Diabetic neuropathy pain is one of the most common side effects of diabetes impacting 30-50 percent of patients. Nerve damage occurs due to high blood sugar levels affecting nerve fibers in the body. Many people experience numbness or tingling in their fingers, toes, hands, and feet. Sometimes burning, sharp aching pains may also be felt. Learn how to gain relief and prevent the condition from getting worse.

  1. Control Your Blood Sugar: This is, by far, the most important thing to do if you want to prevent or limit nerve damage. Do not stray from your healthy diet. Be sure to maintain a regular workout routine.  The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases states that healthy blood sugar levels can slow the process of neuropathy damage. It can also ease the pain.
  2. Maintain Stress Levels: Avoiding emotional or psychological stress isn’t easy. Pain can cause stress and stress can cause pain. Stress can be an aggravating element and effect an effect of diabetic neuropathy. Breaking the cycle is difficult. Stress is unavoidable, but there are ways to cope.
  3. Quit Smoking: Try to quit smoking as soon as possible. Smoking causes blood vessels to constrict. Blood flow becomes impaired causing less nutrient-rich blood to flow properly. Smokers are more likely to experience nerve damage. Smokers are also more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke compared to non-smokers.
  4. Alpha-Lipoic Supplement: Alpha-lipoic has proven to improve diabetic neuropathy pain symptoms by helping regulate blood sugar levels. A standard dose can range from 600-1,200 mg daily. Consult your physician for the dose that’s right for you.
  5. Use Skin Creams Containing Capsaicin: Capsaicin is found in many pain relieving skin creams. Capsaicin is found in cayenne pepper and can be applied directly to the skin for fast relief. Use carefully as pain relieving cream can cause burning and skin irritation in some individuals.
  6. Utilize Relaxation Techniques: As stated above, stress can cause pain and make it worse. Relaxation techniques can help ease stress, anxiety, and depression. Relaxation therapies include, but aren’t limited to:
  7. Monitor Your Skin and Feet: According to the American Diabetes Association, regular foot and skin care are important for treating and preventing diabetic neuropathy. Keep an eye out for blisters, sores, and ulcers. Carefully wash your skin and groom your feet daily. This will prevent bacteria from developing and causing an infection.
  8. Physical Therapy: Be sure to choose a physical therapist who specializes in or understands diabetic neuropathy. Physical therapy is great for soothing pain, but it doesn’t cure it. Be sure to inquire about swimming or water aerobics for a low-impact exercise option.
  9. Increase Your Vitamin B Complex: Many diabetics are low in vitamin B levels. Vitamin B helps the brain produce a chemical that sends signals through your body. A lack of B12 can advance to nerve pain. You can get B vitamins through food, but talk to your physician to see if a supplement is recommended.
  10.  Opioid Pain Medication: Only use opioid pain medication if no other treatment is working. It’s best to use this as a last resort as many opioids have side effects and may cause addiction. Opioids are not a long-term solution. Talk to your physician to discuss the pros and cons of opioid medication.

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  1. Tamera
    February 18, 2017

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