Diabetic rubbing foot to relieve painful neuropathy.

A Diabetic’s Guide to Peripheral Neuropathy Treatments

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Peripheral Neuropathy is uncomfortable and can be difficult to manage. While there is no cure, a treatment plan can help prevent the condition from worsening. It may even prevent the need for amputation. This guide serves as an introduction to treatments for managing neuropathic pain.

Stretching and Exercises For Neuropathy

Exercise has the dual benefit of increasing blood flow to affected limbs and controlling blood sugar levels. These factors help prevent diabetic neuropathy from getting worse. Regular exercise also releases endorphins and restores regular feeling to feet and legs.

Before you start any exercise program, it’s important to consult with your doctor. They can help choose an appropriate exercise routine for you. Wear shoes and insoles recommended for managing neuropathy symptoms.

Stretching

All exercise should begin with stretching to keep your muscles limber. Regular stretching reduces the feeling of pins and needles and increases blood flow. Be sure to work with your doctor or a fitness trainer to come up with a regular stretching plan.

Tips For Stretching:

  • Isolate the affected muscles and hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
  • Breathe deeply to reduce tension, and don’t hold your breath.
  • Stretch every day for best results.

Aerobic

Exercises that get your heart pumping and encourages deep breathing are good for your body and heart. Exercising for 30 or more minutes a day can make a huge difference in managing neuropathy.

Examples of Aerobic Exercise For Peripheral Neuropathy Include:

  • Brisk Walking: Walking can be an excellent exercise, but for best results, you need to ensure you get your heart rate up. An exercise monitor can help you track this.
  • Jogging: For those who find walking isn’t enough to get their heart rate up, jogging is a good option. It’s important to make sure you are wearing proper footwear for neuropathy.
  • Bicycling: This is a fantastic low-impact choice for people who want to exercise outdoors without putting a lot of pressure their feet and joints. If you belong to a gym, consider taking a spin class or using an indoor bicycle especially if you live in colder climates.
  • Swimming: One of the best options for a full-body workout with low impact on both arms and feet.

Balance

Balance training helps relieve feelings of weakness or stiffness in your affected limbs. These exercises can help restore feeling to your affect limbs and help you prevent falls.

Try These Balance Exercises to Help Manage Muscle Weakness:

  • Walking heel to toe in a straight line
  • Walking backward or sideways
  • Side leg raises
  • Calf raises
  • Yoga

Diet to Manage Blood Sugar

If you’re living with diabetes, it’s important to eat a healthy diet to control your blood sugar. A proper diet improves weight loss and keeps your heart healthy. Both are essential to improving circulation to your limbs. Create a healthy eating plan with a doctor or dietician tailored to your specific needs.

A Healthy Diet to Help Manage Neuropathy Should Include:

  • Healthy carbohydrates
  • Plenty of dietary fiber
  • Fats that lower cholesterol (in moderation)
  • Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as fish

Medications For Peripheral Neuropathy

If your neuropathy pain is intense, you may want to seek medical options to help manage. You should always seek the help of a doctor to help you choose treatment options.

Over-the-Counter Medication

Over-the-counter (OTC) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications may help manage moderate pain. However, you should always consult a doctor before regularly taking any drugs. Overuse of OTC medication can result in complications in your stomach or liver.

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments such as creams, rubs or lotions may provide relief from neuropathy pain or inflammation.

The Two Classes of Topical Treatment For Neuropathy Are:

  • Local anesthetics are topical treatments that provide localized relief
  • Analgesics are rubbed on the skin to provide all-over relief, temporarily dampen signals from nerves to the brain

Some topical treatments are available over-the-counter, and some are prescription.

Prescription Medications

There is no specific prescription medication for peripheral neuropathy. However, there are some medications that have proven effective in managing pain.

Prescription Painkillers

If your pain is severe, you may ask your doctor for prescribed prescription painkillers that help dampen nerve signals to the brain. Doctors prescribe these medications as a last resort because they can become addictive and can cause other health issues in your digestive system.

Antidepressants

Antidepressants may help relieve chronic pain, improve sleep quality and help deal with underlying depression surrounding neuropathy.

Therapeutic Relief For Neuropathic Pain

Transcutaneous Electronic Nerve Stimulation (TENS)

TENS is a procedure where electrodes are applied to target areas on the body and send small amounts of electricity into your nerves. This technique does not work for everyone. But, if successful, can prevent nerves from transmitting pain signals to your brain.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an alternative Chinese treatment for preventing chronic pain. People often claim relief from their pain through acupuncture. However, the scientific effectiveness of this therapy is inconclusive. Always ensure that you only get treatments from a licensed acupuncturist.

Casts or Splints

You may be prescribed a cast or splint for neuropathy in your limbs. By adding the extra support to problem areas, you can alleviate muscle tension and protect the limb from moving during sleep.

Foot Care For People with Diabetes

Taking care of your feet is one of the most important things you can do to prevent amputation. A study has shown that regular care from a podiatrist reduces amputation risk in people with diabetes.

Shoes For Neuropathy

If you have neuropathy in your feet, it’s important to choose shoes specifically tailored to help manage your symptoms. It would be best if you choose a shoe that offers good support, does not have rough seams and won’t rub so you won’t damage the skin of your feet.

People with diabetes should look for shoes that have that have these qualities:

  • Soft, stretchable leather
  • Laceable shoes that offer more support
  • A cushioned sole
  • Not too tight in the front

Those who have severe foot problems related to neuropathy should wear diabetic-style shoes. These shoes are soft and have extra room in the front to avoid rubbing and accommodate bunions. The insoles of these shoes are also designed to help restore feeling to the foot.

Neuropathy Therapy Socks

You may also be prescribed special socks to help manage neuropathy in your feet. These socks are designed to keep circulation flowing in your feet and keep the toes and soles of your foot uninjured.

So Where Should I Start?

If a medical professional has diagnosed you or a family member with peripheral neuropathy, you should consult with your doctor to choose the best treatment options. For more information about peripheral neuropathy and amputation, contact one of our information specialists for individualized support.