Diabetes is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy, damage that affects the peripheral nerves. Living with peripheral neuropathy can be difficult. The tingling, numbness, and pain can make it challenging to get through your day and even get a good night’s sleep.
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to manage your neuropathy. Our neurology specialist Dr. Ravinder Singh of Premier Neurology Group provides top-quality care for patients with diabetes-related neuropathy. The goal is to slow the progression and alleviate symptoms so you can function better with less pain and discomfort.
Here we discuss three simple and practical changes you can make right now to manage diabetes-related neuropathy. Ultimately, it’s best to work closely with a neurology specialist for expert management. Discuss additional changes you can make with Dr. Singh.
Persistently elevated blood sugar damages the nerves throughout your body, including the peripheral nerves. Over time, high blood sugar can damage nerves, making it difficult for them to work properly.
People with diabetes who went undiagnosed for some time and those with poorly controlled blood sugar are most at risk for peripheral neuropathy. When these nerves become damaged, it’s common to experience abnormal sensations, including tingling and numbness. You may experience shooting pain that interrupts your day, stirs you from sleep, and lowers your quality of life.
More worrisome, peripheral neuropathy can cause reduced sensation, which often affects the feet. You may injure your toe and fail to notice due to a lack of sensation. Because of reduced blood flow, small injuries can turn into large open sores that are slow to heal and vulnerable to infection.
There is currently no cure for diabetes-related neuropathy, and some damage may be permanent. This is especially true if you have been without treatment for a long time. However, there are steps you can take to manage the condition and prevent further damage.
When you’re dealing with throbbing and burning sensations in your legs and feet, getting exercise isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Regular physical activity is a highly beneficial lifestyle change for people with diabetes-related neuropathy.
Exercise is an excellent way to control blood sugar levels, manage weight, and ward off other conditions for which you’re at a higher risk, like heart disease. It can also help ease neuropathy pain. More active patients have a lower chance of developing neuropathy pain than those who lead sedentary lifestyles.
If you have neuropathic pain, it’s best to get moving. Several forms of exercise have been shown to improve neuropathic pain. Aerobic exercise improves neuropathic pain in just a few months, while a combination of aerobic exercise and strength training alleviates neuropathic pain even faster, according to one study.
We recommend aiming for half an hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity five days a week. Walking, running, biking, swimming, playing a sport, or going to the gym are all good options. Choose an activity you enjoy and can make a part of your lifestyle. This increases the chances that you’ll stick to it.
In the beginning, find small ways to boost activity throughout the day. This could include:
Incorporating movement in these ways adds up.
Your brain and body maintain two-way communication, with one influencing the other. Chronic stress activates a part of the brain involved in pain perception. If you have neuropathic pain or any other type of pain, supercharging this part of the brain worsens the pain. In one study shows that chronic stress increases pain sensitivity and aggravates neuropathic pain.
Take time to engage in stress-relieving activities like listening to soothing music, reading, gardening, meditating, or taking a yoga class. Consider ways to reduce work-related stress. This may mean delegating or reducing the workload. Think about the major stressors in your daily life and find ways to reduce, avoid, or eliminate them. Doing so can go a long way in alleviating neuropathic pain.
Smoking impairs circulation and damages blood vessels, worsening issues like neuropathy and resulting in less blood reaching your legs and feet. If you smoke, quit — there are effective medications that can help you. If you’ve had trouble quitting smoking in the past, talk to us about resources to help you quit for good.
Drinking too much alcohol and drinking too often is just as damaging. If you drink, it’s important to limit your intake.
We’ve shared a few helpful tips on lifestyle changes you can make to improve diabetes-related neuropathy, but don’t stop there. Schedule a visit with our team for comprehensive care to best manage your condition. To get started, call 310-382-1056 or submit a booking request online to schedule a visit today. The Premier Neurology Group team is in your corner and ready to help you conquer neuropathic pain.