Also known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, diabetic nerve pain is an incredibly painful and common complication of both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Unlike muscle pain which typically goes away after time and/or treatment, nerve pain is longer lasting and in some cases permanent.
What causes diabetic nerve pain?
Diabetic nerve pain is commonly caused by poorly controlled blood sugar over a long period of time. Sugar, as we know it today, is difficult for the body to digest. The body treats sugar almost as a foreign object storing it in places reserved for healthy nutrients. As a result, the body’s cells alter their function in order to address this unfamiliar substance, taking them away from their normal tasks. Eventually, the sugars inhibit the body’s ability to correctly executing their purpose and so causes dysfunction. We see this from the pancreas that is unable to produce the proper amount of insulin and the kidneys which are unable to clean the blood.
Symptoms of Diabetic Nerve Pain
- Pins and needles
- Electric shock-like
- Sensitivity to touch
- Symptoms worse at night
What makes diabetic nerve pain worse?
If you have diabetic nerve pain, you know how unpleasant it is. If you’d like to lessen the agony, try some of these tips.
Eliminate your sugar intake.
Say what?! Yes, we know this is considered a dramatic statement by some, but we are serious. We couldn’t call ourselves a great health practice if we didn’t tell you the honest truth that eliminating sugar from your diet could not only reduce your pain but could get rid of it altogether. What’s more, those with Type 2 diabetes have a significant chance to diabetes-free and type 1 diabetics could see a significant improvement in their overall health. If you really want to live life without pain, kick the sugar habit.
If you have diabetes, your body is already suffering from an inability to function correctly. Adding a few extra pounds is a surefire way to make the process worse. Eating a diet full of boxed foods – think,“center of the grocery store” – is a surefire way to gain weight as most items contain preservatives, stabilizers, and additives that have no place in the body. Not to mention that most boxed foods are put through a preparation process that rids them of any absorbable nutrients. Instead, be conscious of the foods you choose to eat and try to stick to a diet high in green vegetables.
We know this sounds redundant. Almost every health advocate will tell you that you can reduce your symptoms if you exercise more. That’s because the body produces chemicals that when you exercise that stave off inflammation, a major disease-causing factor.
Get Some Sun
Britain’s University of Sheffield studied people with diabetic neuropathy and found that those who had lower levels of Vitamin D also had more pain. Amazingly, your body goes through a process to absorb Vitamin D when sunlight hits your body.
Smoking causes your blood vessels to constrict, impairing your circulation. This means your peripheral nerves may get less nutrient-rich blood, which can lead to more pain.
Diabetic Nerve Pain Treatment
While the peripheral neuropathy program is unique to each patient and their individual circumstances, there are some core features of the program shared by all patients.
The peripheral neuropathy program begins with a biopsy of the nerves to determine if a patient has peripheral neuropathy. This is the definitive way to tell if a patient is suffering from peripheral neuropathy and not another medical disorder. After the biopsy, a nerve conduction test is then performed to evaluate the nerves and determine the appropriate course of action.
Once diagnosed, neuropathy treatment consists of nerve therapy, functional strength training, short-term medication and a take-home electronic device to help with discomfort. Since every patient’s medical needs are different, the team at Arrowhead Health Centers puts together a Recovery Game Plan that is unique and tailor-made for the patient. Find out more about the treatment process here.