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Painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms and Treatments
Of great concern to any diabetic is the potential for nerve damage.Do you recognize these nightly symptoms as you lay in your bed to sleep? Your toes burn and tingle and sharp pains shoot up your legs. The bed sheets feel uncomfortable on your feet as you toss and turn, struggling to get some rest.
The combination of burning, numbness, tingling, hot and cold sensations, shooting and electrical pain are common sensations felt at rest in painful peripheral neuropathy.
Neuropathy is a term used to describe abnormalities of the nervous system. While there are many different kinds of neuropathy, the most common neuropathy effecting diabetics is peripheral neuropathy.
Diabetic neuropathy is described as a loss of sensation. It starts in the tips of the toes and gradually works its way up the legs, and in severe case into the hands. This condition may also be referred to as a stocking glove neuropathy because it progresses as if one was pulling on a stocking.
Sixty percent of diabetics have some type of neuropathy in their feet. Five percent of diabetics will experience painful diabetic neuropathy and the likelihood of this occuring increases with age. Over 45% of individuals who have had diabetes for over 25 years will experience some symptoms of painful diabetic neuropathy.
While the exact cause of diabetic neuropathy is not clearly understood, many doctors think that the damage diabetes does to the small blood vessels surrounding the nerves is where it begins. The poor blood circulation that diabetics struggle with, may leave nerve cells oxygen starved or lacking in key nutrients causing damage to the nerves. Others believe the simple increases in blood sugar that occur over and over does direct damage to the nerves.
Despite the different theories, studies have shown better blood sugar control helps prevent the progression of the neuropathy.
How are diabetic neuropathies treated?
The first treatment step is to bring blood glucose levels within the normal range to help prevent further nerve damage. The following steps are typical ones that every diabetic should be doing:
2. Exercise. Regular exercise is a must for anyone's health. Exercise helps increase circulation and stimulates the growth of new vessels which help slow the progression of the neuropathy. Exercising also helps to increase your pain threshold and to provide a distraction from the nerve pain in your feet.
3. Healthy Diet. Besides helping to control your blood sugar, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables will add anti-oxidants to your diet. Anti-oxidants will combat the damaging oxidative effects glucose has on your nerves. In particular, try dark-green, leafy vegetables, yellow, orange, and red fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits and tomatoes.
4. Try taking the supplement alpha lipoic acid. ALA is an effective anti-oxidant that has been shown to relieve pain associated with neuropathy in multiple studies. To help relieve pain, the dose must be at least 600mg a day. It is advisable to start with a lower dose, as higher doses can cause nausea, stomach upset, fatigue, insomnia and can lower blood sugar. In general, ALA is a safe supplement.
Treating the pain caused by diabetic neuropathies.
Your doctor may prescribe medications to help with the pain. You doctor has a list of drugs that might be prescribed for your individual symptoms. One such drug is Gabapentin, also known as Neurontin®, has been a successful treatment for painful diabetic neuropathy. Neurontin® was originally approved by the FDA for adjunctive use in seizures, but the benefits of this drug for other conditions, like neuropathy, soon became known. Other medications such Tegretol and Dilantin, common seizure medications, may be recommended in more severe cases. New treatments include lidocaine 5% cream, acetyl-L-canitine, nerve growth factor and Anodyne or infrared therapy.
Note that many of these drugs have side effects that you should take into consideration before going down the medication road.
Non-Medical Treatment for diabetic neuropathies.
Is it possible to reverse some of this damage, can the nerves be rebuilt back to full function? David B. Phillips, Ph.D. believes this can occur. Several years ago, Dr. Phillips created the ear thermometer, that has replaced mercury thermometers in hospitals, doctors' offices and homes. He is also the inventor of The ReBuilder®.
The ReBuilder® is a device designed to treat diabetic neuropathies and other neuropathies. The ReBuilder® works by sending electrical signals that travel up one foot and leg and down the other leg and foot. The ReBuilder's impulse travels from one foot to the other, rebuilding your nerves, increasing blood flow, and strengthening your calf muscles. Specifically the ReBuilder®:
For more information about the ReBuilder®, visit their website at The ReBuilder®.
Every diabetic should be aware of the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. If you begin to feel tingling and/or numbness in your toes or hands, tell your doctor. This maybe a signal to refocus on controlling your sugar levels and to work on your blood circulation. Those who are experiencing severeir diabetic neuropathy need to pay close attention to the feet and watch out for bruises, cuts and other problems you may not be feeling due to nerve damage. It is important to keep the blood flowing to your feet.
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