September 1st, 2021 12:00am
Diabetes directly targets your body’s insulin levels, impacting your blood sugar levels. However, those who cope with the disease know it also impacts the rest of the body. For instance, diabetics have increased rates of cardiovascular disease, vision loss, and dental problems. But one concern that impacts the entire body—as well as quality of life—is diabetic neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy—the type most commonly experienced by diabetics—causes damage to the nerves of the peripheral nervous system. This is the system responsible for our ability to feel pain and other physical sensations. Damage here often causes numbness, pain, and tingling sensations in the body, especially in the hands and feet.
Common signs you are experiencing neuropathy include:
Persistent hyperglycemia is one of the most common causes of neuropathy. Because of this, one of the best ways to manage diabetic neuropathy is keeping up with managing your diabetes. Follow best practices, such as:
It’s natural to want to skip exercise when your hands and feet hurt. But physical activity has much to offer diabetics, especially those suffering from neuropathy. Exercise helps keep blood sugar levels, cholesterol, and inflammation under control. The increase of circulation can also help undo some of the nerve damage, slowing the progression of neuropathy.
Electrotherapy, such as those offered by TENS and EMS treatments, have proven effective in helping treat neuropathy pain. If your pain levels are high, it’s possible to incorporate EMS into your workout for greater relief.
As mentioned, the feet are a common problem area for neuropathy. Because of this, it’s common to sustain cuts on your feet without noticing, which can lead to infection and greater problems. It’s a good idea to do daily foot checks for any injuries and avoid wearing tight shoes or walking around without shoes on.
According to several studies, such as this one from 2017, smoking is directly related to the prevalence of neuropathy pain. This is likely because smoking negatively impacts one’s blood sugar levels and restricts blood flow, leading to greater nerve damage. If you do smoke, it’s a good idea to cut back or quit altogether to prevent aggravating your condition.