Can Diabetic Neuropathy Be Reversed?
An unfortunate potential side effect of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy. The condition refers to degenerative nerve damage that can occur in individuals diagnosed with diabetes. Estimates suggest that roughly half of all diabetics may struggle with nerve pain because of the underlying condition. In many cases, the legs and feet tend to be the parts of the body most affected by neuropathy associated with diabetes. Can the condition be controlled or reversed?
What causes nerve damage?
Typically, the primary cause of diabetic neuropathy is poorly controlled blood sugar. For diabetics, failing to monitor glucose levels or make lifestyle adjustments to prevent dangerous spikes or drops are common contributors to nerve damage. Peripheral and autonomic neuropathy are the 2 types of nerve trauma that can occur.
Signs of neuropathy
With peripheral neuropathy, people may experience numbness, tingling, sharp pain, muscle weakness, and extreme sensitivity in the affected areas. Visible problems like ulcers and infections, especially in the feet, are also possible. Meanwhile, autonomic neuropathy can be more widespread, impacting various bodily systems. Symptoms can include experiencing dizziness or fainting when sitting or standing, vision problems, changes in perspiration, problems with the bowels or bladder, and even sexual dysfunction.
The best approach to avoiding diabetic neuropathy is to ensure the blood sugar is properly monitored and controlled. Along with routinely checking glucose levels, people with diabetes are encouraged to make necessary lifestyle changes to prevent sugar spikes. For example, adjusting the diet to focus on foods low in saturated fats, consuming more whole grains, and boosting produce consumption are healthy options. Likewise, getting at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise every week can also boost overall health.
Foot care is essential
Diabetics are at a heightened risk of nerve damage, specifically in the feet. As a result, some people with the condition may not realize when a foot injury has occurred. Prevent such issues by routinely checking the feet for potential cracks or cuts. Additionally, consider having an annual exam to review the feet for possible damage.
Medications, acupuncture, and TCM
Although lifestyle changes are hugely beneficial, people with diabetes can also benefit from other treatments. Medications can be prescribed for diabetic neuropathy to control pain symptoms and slow disease progression. Likewise, alternative therapies such as acupuncture and even traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have anecdotally been found to ease symptoms for many people.
Slowing neuropathy progression
Ultimately, the best way to avoid the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy is to ensure that diabetes is well-managed. Routinely monitoring blood sugar levels, switching to a healthier diet, and getting regular exercise are all proven options that help diabetics avoid developing or accelerating the progression of degenerative nerve pain.