If you’re a diabetic suffering from peripheral neuropathy, then you know the discomfort and pain that comes from this aggravating condition. While it’s not the easiest health condition to deal with, there are natural ways you can improve your situation.
Understanding Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that 20 million people in the United States deal with annually. While the cause isn’t always clear, many people who have this condition generally trace it back to traumatic injuries, metabolic problems, infections, exposure to toxins, and, most commonly, diabetes.
Peripheral neuropathy is the result of damage to the peripheral nerves, which are responsible for sending information from the brain to the central nervous system. The condition, which causes moderate to severe pain, is typically noticed in the hands and feet first – though it can affect other areas of the body.
“People with peripheral neuropathy generally describe the pain as stabbing, burning, or tingling,” Mayo Clinic explains. “In many cases, symptoms improve, especially if caused by a treatable condition. Medications can reduce the pain of peripheral neuropathy.”
But what if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life on medication that may or may not help your condition? What if you want to actually deal with the underlying cause, rather than mask the symptoms?
Thankfully, there are other options for diabetics that suffer from peripheral neuropathy.
5 Natural Treatment Options
The biggest issue with peripheral neuropathy is that there are so many causes. As a result, everyone has their own specific symptoms and needs. If you’re more focused on dealing with the root issue – not the symptoms – any of the following natural treatments should help. (If anything, they won’t hurt you which is something medicine can’t guarantee).
1. Stay Active
It doesn’t matter who you are, your age, where you’re from, your health history, or what your health goals are, staying active is one of the single greatest things you can do for your body. This is certainly true if you suffer from diabetes-related peripheral neuropathy.
Not only does regular physical activity help you maintain a healthy body weight, lower blood pressure, control blood sugar, and improve range of motion, but studies show there are specific benefits related to neuropathy. In fact, this study, published in the Journal of Diabetes Complications, found that consistent exercise reduces pain and neuropathic symptoms in diabetics. It also increases intraepidermal nerve fiber branching.
2. Manage Blood Sugar Levels
In addition to getting exercise, the other most important thing you can do is manage blood sugar levels. Not only will this help control pain, but it’ll also prevent permanent damage to your nerves, blood vessels, and other key systems.
There are obviously a number of ways you can manage blood sugar levels, but a good diet is the most integral component. As a rule of thumb, you should eat more healthy fats, fruits and veggies, high-fiber cereals, fish and shellfish, chicken and turkey, and high-quality protein found in foods like eggs and beans. At the same time, you should avoid trans fats, highly processed foods, white bread, sugary cereals, and low-fat products with lots of added sugar.
3. Reduce Exposure to Toxins
In many cases, diabetic-related peripheral neuropathy is made worse by exposure to toxins. By lowering your exposure to toxins, you can improve symptoms and deal with the underlying issue.
The key is to get rid of toxins you don’t even realize are around such as harmful household cleaners and beauty products. It’s also smart to get off unnecessary prescription medications. If you’re a smoker, you obviously need to quit. In addition to exposure to dozens of toxins, smoking causes blood vessels to constrict, which impairs circulation and leads to more pain.
4. Manage Stress
“Stress is the body’s reaction to harmful situations, whether real or perceived,” WebMD explains. “When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction occurs in your body that allows you to act in a way to prevent injury. This reaction is known as ‘fight-or-flight,’ or the stress response. During stress response, your heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten, and blood pressure rises.”
Clearly, chronic stress has an impact on the body. The result of this response is a heightened sense of pain. By reducing stress, you can lower pain’s symptoms and enjoy a more comfortable life. This will lead to a noticeable improvement in every area of your health.
5. Get More Vitamin D
There’s research to suggest that vitamin D – the nutrient that your skin produces in response to sunlight – helps protect people against nerve pain. Researchers at Britain’s University of Sheffield specifically studied a group of people with diabetic neuropathy and found that those with lower levels of vitamin D experience more pain on a daily basis.
If you’re having trouble getting at least 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D via exposure to sunlight and food, then you may need to take a supplement. The combination of all of these things will ensure you have sufficient levels.
Come Visit Us Today!
At Step by Step Foot Care, we understand how painful and frustrating it can be to deal with peripheral neuropathy. We also recognize that many individuals don’t want to live a life dependent on medication. That’s why we take a unique and healthy approach that’s proven effective with many of our patients. Specifically, we have three goals for managing neuropathy:
- Retrain the nerves to function at normal thresholds (requiring normal stimulation to function).
- Repair any damaged tissue by increasing circulation through revascularization, which improves blood flow. This allows more nutrients to reach the damaged tissue and accelerate healing.
- Re-educate the nerves so that they’re able to communicate with surrounding tissue. This improves functioning and brings balance back to your body.
If you’re interested in learning more about our natural and effective approach to peripheral neuropathy, please feel free to schedule an appointment!