Nerve damage in diabetes also called diabetic neuropathy can occur if you have diabetes and injure nerves throughout your body. Diabetic neuropathy often damages nerves and cells that play a critical role in touch, sensation, and movement in your legs and feet.
Scientists believe that a high blood sugar or glucose level in a diabetic’s blood causes nerve damage over time. One of the most common side effects of diabetes is neuropathy. Peripheral, proximal, autonomic, and focal are the four different categories.
How to manage diabetic neuropathy:
Keep in mind that damage from the nerve can’t be reversed because the body can’t naturally repair nerve tissues that have been damaged, researchers are investigating methods to treat nerve damage caused by diabetes.
You can’t reverse nerve damage but there are ways to help you manage the condition, including:
- Keeping your blood sugar or glucose under control.
- Treating nerve pain by medications or ointments that your doctor may recommend.
- Check your feet regularly to make sure they are free from injuries, wounds or infection.
Managing blood sugar is important because it can help prevent further complications to your nerves. You can better manage your blood sugar through the following methods:
- Soda or sweetened drinks, coffee, processed snacks, and candy bars are all things to avoid if you want to lose weight.
- Consume high-fiber foods such as beans, broccoli, whole grains, berries, and so on. These foods can help you maintain a stable blood sugar level.
- Choose lean meats like chicken and white-fleshed fish that contain healthy fats, such as those found in olive oil and almonds.
- Consume vegetables and plant-based proteins such as beans and tofu on a regular basis.
- At least five times a week, for 30 minutes each time, exercise. Incorporate aerobic and weight-training exercises into your daily regimen.
- Keep track of your blood sugar levels and monitor them as directed by your doctor. This will enable you to spot patterns and unexpected fluctuations in your blood sugar levels.
- Take insulin or oral medications, such as metformin (Glucophage), as instructed by your endocrinologist or primary care doctor.
In addition to keeping your blood sugar in a steady-state, it’s important to pay attention to your feet and legs. The nerves in the legs and feet can be damaged which can lead to a reduced sense of feeling that is why you may not notice if you get injured or cut in your foot or leg.
To help prevent damage to your feet and legs you can do the following:
- Check your feet regularly if you have open wounds or sores
- Your toenails should be trimmed.
- Regularly wash your feet with soap and water.
- Visit a podiatrist on a regular basis.
- Walking barefoot is not recommended.
- Intake food and supplements that help lower blood glucose levels.
- Use creams and ointments that help soothe pain and discomfort.
- Wear diabetic socks and shoes. There are lots of footwear available that’s made especially for people with diabetes. These socks and shoes offer extra support and cushion and are non-binding.
How can diabetic neuropathy be treated?
The following are the most effective drugs for treating painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN):
- Pregabalin (Lyrica)
- Gabapentin (Neurontin)
- Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
- Venlafaxine (Effexor)
Other suggested treatment options may include:
- Topical medications, like capsaicin (Qutenza)
Controlling your blood sugar is a powerful tool for lowering symptoms and slowing the onset of neuropathy. Glucose management should always be a component of your treatment approach.