Is That Pain in Your Feet Neuropathy?
Are you a diabetic and are wondering about what possible complications you will suffer? Do you have itching and burning in your feet or ankles? Does it feel like pins are pricking you in your feet? You may have a condition called diabetic neuropathy.
You shouldn’t ignore unusual symptoms that you are having. Read on to learn about this complication and what you can do about it.
What Is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a condition that you can get from having high blood glucose levels for a long period of time.
It is a form of nerve damage. Not only does this condition affect the feet and legs, but it also can affect your hands and arms.
Many people don’t know that they have diabetes until they suffer from some of its symptoms.
If you have a burning or itching feeling in your extremities anywhere, then you may be suffering from diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
How Do You Get Nerve Damage from Neuropathy?
Although scientists know that neuropathy comes from prolonged high glucose levels, they don’t know exactly how this works.
According to Healthline, there are a number of factors that may cause this condition. One factor has to do with the interaction between the blood vessels in the body and the peripheral nervous system.
What Kind of Symptoms will You Feel?
It is typical for people with neuropathy to have numbness. Ordinarily, you have a sensation when you walk or run in your feet. People with this condition may not have this sensation.
You may also feel some tingling or burning. At times, you may feel sudden, sharp pains. Some people get a cramping sensation.
Not only is the pain a common symptom of neuropathy, but also you may notice that you have a lack of balance.
This symptom may come about by itself or possibly as a result of the numbness in your feet and ankles. A lack of coordination may result.
Does Your Foot Look Unusual?
Changes in shape may start to affect your foot as a result of changes in gait. You may begin to notice the development of hammertoes. This deformity results from walking abnormally.
Are You Sore?
While you may start to notice deformity or injury from walking in an unusual manner, you might not notice injuries because you are numb.
This can be a real problem for diabetics. For this reason, you need to regularly completely inspect your feet or keep regular podiatrist appointments.
Neuropathy may also result in exaggerated sensations. Heat and cold may feel more intense than they usually do.
You may even start to notice that the feeling of your bed sheets causes you some pain. This may start to interfere with your sleep.
How Can You Treat Your Diabetic Neuropathy?
The first thing to do when you have neuropathy is to make sure that you prevent any further damage to your peripheral nervous system.
Even if you haven’t been so diligent about watching your blood sugars up until now, you must keep a tight reign on them from now on.
Your blood sugars before meals should be from 70 to 130 milligrams per deciliter, and your sugar after meals should be less than 180 mg/dL.
You should combine a reasonable diet with medication and exercise that are regulated by your doctor.
If you are carrying any extra weight, you will be able to better control your condition if you lose it.
You should also not add insult to injury by being a smoker. If you do smoke, then you should think about trying to find a way to quit.
Which Medications can I Use to Treat Neuropathy?
The first line of treatment for neuropathy pain is the use of over-the-counter pain relievers.
You can try acetaminophen, aspirin, or ibuprofen. You will not need a prescription for the usual dose of these medications.
Antidepressants are usually used to treat depression and anxiety. However, their effect on brain chemistry allows them to be used for neuropathy pain as well.
There are tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline and imipramine. For fewer side effects, you may want to try another group of antidepressants called serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors.
There are strong drugs like oxycodone that can be used for neuropathy pain.
However, these drugs should be used sparingly because they have side effects and they can cause problems with addiction.
There are also drugs that work against seizures that can help with pain. You could try pregabalin, gabapentin, or carbamazepine. These drugs also come with some side effects.
Physical Therapy for Neuropathy
Your physical therapist can help set up an exercise regimen for you. Low impact exercises such as swimming seem to be better than high impact ones.
It is important to connect with a physical therapist who understands neuropathy. You should also keep in mind that physical therapy can soothe neuropathy but won’t cure it.
Capsaicin cream contains an ingredient that is present in hot peppers. People find some relief from pain with this cream, despite the fact that it hasn’t been shown to be effective in research studies. You should be careful when using such a cream because some people have allergies to it.
Care for Your Hands and Feet
Healthline recommends that you maintain your foot health well if you are a diabetic. You need to check your feet daily for any irregularities that might lead to infection.
You have to be exceedingly careful because diabetics sometimes suffer from problems that result in the need for amputation.
You also need to be careful about the type of shoes that you wear. You should wear shoes that give your feet room to move.
There are shoe stores that specialize in care for diabetics, and you should avail yourself of these.
What Are the other Complications of Diabetic Neuropathy?
Since nerves have important functions in the body, neuropathy can lead to other complications besides pain and numbness.
Neuropathy can lead to damage to organs in your digestive system. This can lead to:
– Impaired hunger
Also, neuropathy may affect how food travels through your digestive system. This can lead to nutrition problems and even some issues with blood sugar regulation.
If you suffer from autonomic neuropathy, then the nerves in the sexual organs can be impaired. This can lead to:
– Erectile dysfunction
– Female sexual dysfunction
– Impaired stimulation in both sexes
Infection in Legs and Feet
Since nerves in your legs and feet are affected by neuropathy, you may lose sensation in those areas.
You might fail to notice sores or cuts that can lead to infection. This is a serious issue that could lead to amputations if you are not careful.
Joint Damage in the Legs
There is a condition called Charcot’s joint that can result from neuropathy. It comes along with swelling, numbness, and lack of joint stability.
Your nerves impact the functioning of your sweat glands. So, damage to the nerves can result in impairment in this system. As a result, you may have issues regulating your body temperature.
Healthline has another article that talks about the bladder problems that you may suffer from if you have neuropathy.
You may find that you have an inability to recognize when your bladder is full and also poor control of urination.
What about Natural Treatments for Neuropathy?
If you are wary about using drugs that may have toxic side effects, or if you have found that exercise and physical therapy are not effectual, then you may want to try a natural remedy for your problem.
Studies have shown that there are a number of natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants that can both help stop nerve damage and help you manage your pain. These include:
Alpha Lipoic Acid
This is an anti-inflammatory that has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and stave off neuropathy. You should take 300-1,200 milligrams daily.
These can help reduce pain and inflammation. They include peppermint, lavender, and frankincense.
Cinnamon can help with stabilizing blood sugar. It comes both in powder form and in the form of an oil.
Omega-3 Fish Oil
This can help reduce inflammation Take 1,000 milligrams daily.
It has been found that there are any diabetics who are low in this nutrient. This can promote nerve damage.
Evening Primrose Oil
This is an anti-inflammatory that can stave off neuropathy pain. You should take 360 milligrams daily.
For more information on natural ways to reduce neuropathy pain, consult Dr. Axe’s website.
If you are diabetic, then you should take very good care of your feet. A little problem can become a big problem very quickly.
If you have undiagnosed pain in your feet, you should go to a doctor. If it turns out to be neuropathy, this may indicate that you don’t have great control over your blood glucose levels.
For more information about neuropathy, please consult the following YouTube video which discusses much of the material that this article has discussed.