“Doctor, my blood sugar is just a little off–that can’t cause Neuropathy…”
Unfortunately, the reverse is probably true.
Here is reality: Aggressive treatment of both metabolic syndrome and diabetes can lessen the progression and the severity of one of the most common forms of peripheral neuropathy.
We have written extensively about diabetes and metabolic syndrome. We talk often about about how carrying excess body fat impairs our body’s ability to process blood fats and blood sugars.
There’s also really good evidence and multiple clinical studies that show even borderline elevations in the blood sugar over long periods of time make patients more likely to develop peripheral neuropathy.
So how does this slight elevation of blood sugar and blood fats or triglycerides cause neuropathy? Unfortunately, nobody is 100% sure. But there are several good theories.
The most likely explanation is that excess amounts of circulating fats and sugar interfere with your delicate nerves’ ability to take in critical nutrients, including oxygen.
Over a long period time, these can eventually manifest as the tingling, numbness, and burning so commonly found in peripheral neuropathy.
Because it is a well-known fact that patients with metabolic syndrome can likely develop a number of diseases, including heart disease and high blood pressure–as well as peripheral neuropathy—it is critical to attempt to reverse the changes wherever possible.
If frank diabetes develops, it is necessary to treat it as aggressively as possible with minimal side effects. We do know that aggressive treatment of both metabolic syndrome and diabetes can lessen the progression and the severity of one of the most common forms of peripheral neuropathy. But what happens if you’ve done all the right things and your neuropathy persists?
This is the most common presentation we now see in our clinics.
This is because so many more enlightened patients are taking charge of their health by improving their diet and starting to exercise on a regular basis.
And this is how we should all first approach patients with neuropathy and chronic nerve pain.
Let our team help you too.
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If you’ve been diagnosed with neuropathy as a result of
- HIV/AIDS or some other autoimmune disease
You probably have more questions than answers.
Neuropathy is probably the one symptom you never expected when you received your diagnosis.
To understand why you developed neuropathy, it helps to understand exactly what neuropathy is.
What Is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a condition caused by damage to the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system controls communication between your brain and your spinal cord and every other part of your body. When you pick up a hot pan and feel the pain of the burn, that’s the peripheral nervous system at work.
When the peripheral nervous system is damaged by whatever your other condition is, the communication super highway of the peripheral nervous system is disrupted. The signals from the brain and spinal cord don’t make it to whatever part of the body is affected by your neuropathy. It’s like going into a dead zone with your cell phone and not having any “bars”. Your nerves just don’t make the proper connection.
And neuropathy doesn’t just affect the hands and feet. It can affect your digestive system, your cardiovascular system, your reproductive system, even your brain.
What Causes Neuropathy?
Any number of things can cause your neuropathy. Here are a couple of common examples:
If you have diabetes and your blood glucose levels aren’t controlled and have been high for significant period of time, the blood vessels that carry oxygen to your nerves can be damaged. Sort of like a potted plant that doesn’t get enough sunlight or water. Your nerves will wither and cease to function, just like your sunlight deprived plant.
If you HIV/AIDS or some other autoimmune disease, your immune system begins to attack your body and that can include your nervous system. That causes damage to the peripheral nerves.
Any of the conditions we discussed earlier can cause neuropathy because they all can damage your nervous system. The damage and the part of the nervous system damaged can vary as much as the patients with neuropathy but any of these illnesses places you at a much higher risk than the average person for developing neuropathy.
What Happens Once Those Nerves Are Damaged?
If your nervous system is damaged you can experience
- Numbness in your arms, hands, legs and feet
- Inability to feel heat, cold or even pain in your arms, hands, legs and feet
- Burning or tingling or even the “pins and needles” feeling you get when your legs or arms “go to sleep”
- Changes in the shape of your feet caused by weakened muscles
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
If your neuropathy affects your autonomic nervous system, you can experience
- Digestive problems like nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea
- Erectile dysfunction
- Irregular heart beat
- Loss of bladder control
- Inability to regulate your blood pressure
Your NeuropathyDR® specialist has an exclusive treatment protocol with proven results for neuropathy patients. An integral part of that treatment protocol is nutrition counseling and diet planning. Your specialist will sit down with you and plan your meals to include the proper portions of each of these categories on a daily basis to make sure that your blood sugar remains as constant as possible.
Assess your current medical situation and take note of any of the symptoms we described. If you are experiencing any of these issues associated with neuropathy, contact your local NeuropathyDR® and take full advantage of their expertise in the treatment of neuropathies.
For more information on coping with diabetic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.
Ease the pain of neuropathy in feet with a simple yoga practice—even if you’ve never done yoga before.
Peripheral neuropathy can be an aggravating and chronic condition, and it’s tough to treat using traditional medications. But there’s a treatment you can do on your own—in a class, or at home—that can be very beneficial over time, and that’s gentle yoga.
Yoga isn’t just about spiritual growth or physical fitness anymore. Many neuropathy patients are finding that simple yoga poses can alleviate uncomfortable tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes. Best of all, many basic yoga poses are easy to learn and don’t require special equipment.
Some of the benefits of a regular yoga practice include:
- Increased circulation to the hands and feet. Many yoga poses use the pull of gravity to shift habitual blood flow patterns, particularly to the feet. (Don’t worry, this doesn’t require a headstand!)
- Improved body self-awareness. A regular yoga practice can help you connect with your body sensations and really notice what your body is telling you.
- Relaxation and peacefulness. A simple, non-strenuous yoga practice for 10 to 30 minutes before bed can help you relax and sleep better. Or, if you prefer, use yoga as a gentle wake-up practice in the morning to set a peaceful tone for your day.
In general, yoga is a wonderful form of self-care that can be modified for your own unique physical goals and needs.
If you have no experience with yoga, it’s best to begin with assistance from a teacher. You can look for a local “gentle yoga” class or use a beginning yoga DVD as a guide at home.
Here’s one very simple yoga technique to get you started with relief for your feet. Sit cross-legged with your shoes and socks off. Weave your fingers one by one through the toes of the opposite foot, and hold this position for about 20 seconds. Then, switch to using the other hand and foot. You may want to do this 2 or 3 times for each foot.
For more information on coping with autonomic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com
If you have diabetes and have already experienced hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) you already know you can have a serious problem.
That problem is hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia can occur in anyone with diabetes, especially if they’re taking medication but especially injected insulin to lower their blood glucose. If you have type 1 diabetes and you’re insulin dependent, you stand a higher chance of developing hypoglycemia.
The symptoms might be mild and easy for you to recognize. However, the symptoms can be severe enough to cause you to lose consciousness…
If those prospects concern you, they should. The really frightening thing is this –
You Might Not Even Know You Have A Problem
Most people expect hypoglycemic episodes to come with classic symptoms:
∙ Heart palpitations
That doesn’t always happen. If you’ve had type 1 diabetes for a long period of time and try to keep your blood glucose levels close to normal, you may not even realize you have a problem.
If you have type 1 diabetes, when your blood glucose levels fall, your insulin levels don’t decrease and your glucagon levels don’t increase. They just reflect your body’s absorption of insulin. When that happens, your body loses its first two lines of defense against the imbalance in your system. Your body’s normal response is impaired.
What Causes the Impairment?
Several things –
∙ Your brain may have become used to hypoglycemia because it’s been dealing with it for awhile. If you’ve had frequent episodes, the system in your body that’s responsible for transporting adrenaline to where it’s needed no longer senses a great need. It just doesn’t respond.
∙ You may be using medications that mask your hypoglycemia symptoms and not even know it. You may not experience the tremors or heart palpitations that another person would during a hypoglycemic episode.
All of these are reasons (especially if you are insulin dependent) you should be checking and recording your blood sugars at least 4 times per day. It is so critical to use a good monitor and always have supplies on hand.
One last thing. Ask your doctor about having hypoglycemia recovery tools like glucose (sugar) tablets on hand for a low blood sugar emergency.
About Autonomic Neuropathy
Autonomic neuropathy in itself is not a disease. It’s a type of peripheral neuropathy that affects the nerves that control involuntary body functions like heart rate, blood pressure, digestion and perspiration. The nerves are damaged and don’t function properly leading to a breakdown of the signals between the brain and the parts of the body affected by the autonomic nervous system like the heart, blood vessels, digestive system and sweat glands.
The autonomic nervous system is the body’s back up plan for dealing with hypoglycemia. When it malfunctions, it can lead to a world of problems. Imagine your body being unable to regulate your heart rate or your blood pressure, an inability to properly digest your food, urinary problems, even being unable to sweat in order to cool your body down when you exercise. In your case as a patient with diabetic hypoglycemia, your autonomic neuropathy could be keeping your liver from producing insulin.
If you have diabetes, you need to take every precaution to maintain proper glucose levels. Make sure you report any change in your condition to your doctor immediately.
If you’ve developed autonomic neuropathy as a result of your hypoglycemia, prompt treatment is your best bet to avoid serious and possibly deadly complications. Early intervention with a NeuropathyDR® clinician is a good place to start. If you already have symptoms, start treatment immediately. If you take beta blockers or you’ve had frequent episodes of hypoglycemia in the past, see your doctor immediately and make sure you’re on a good preventative regimen.
For more information on coping with autonomic neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.com.
Have you been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy?
Do you have peripheral neuropathy in your feet and/or legs?
Has your doctor told you how important it is to take proper care of your feet?
Now, for the $25,000 bonus question…
Are you doing what your doctor tells you to do?
Many patients with peripheral neuropathy don’t take proper care of their feet and don’t follow their doctors’ instructions on foot care.
If you have peripheral neuropathy in your feet, not following your doctor’s instructions about the type of shoes you should wear and how to care for your feet can lead to amputation…
Ultimately, it could cost your life.
You’re Not Alone
If you’re not listening to your doctor and doing everything he tells you to do to care for your feet, you’re not the only one.
A recent study that followed 41 patients with type 2 diabetes found that
- 90% of the patients had been educated about proper footwear
- 83% washed and dried their feet properly every day
- 51% actually foot self-exams recommended by their doctors
But more than half the patients admitted that they walked around the house and even outside with no shoes. And more than two thirds of them were not wearing appropriate footwear. They were wearing shoes with pointed toes, high heels or flip flops, and even worse.
Finding the Right Shoes
If you have peripheral neuropathy in your feet, choosing the right shoes is vitally important. Here are some tips to help you know what to look for and what to avoid when you’re buying shoes:
- Never wear shoes with pointed toes.
- Avoid shoes with a really flat sole or high heels. Neither of these styles allow for even distribution of foot pressure.
- Buy shoes with soft insoles.
- Never buy plastic or synthetic materials that don’t allow your feet to breathe.
- Only wear shoes made of leather, suede or canvas that allow air to circulate around your feet and help them stay dry.
- Avoid slip ons – buy shoes with laces and buckles that allow you to adjust how tight your shoes are.
- Ask for professional assistance in getting the proper fit in every pair of shoes you buy.
- Proper shoes don’t have to look like something your grandmother would wear. You can buy stylish shoes that won’t land you in the hospital.
Remember that neuropathy is nerve damage. That means that the nerves in your feet are not functioning properly and you may not feel a problem until it’s too late and you have sores, blisters or ulcers. Those can be deadly.
See Your Doctor Regularly
Ultimately, you need to see your doctor regularly. Find a doctor who specializes in treating patients with neuropathy, like your local NeuropathyDR® clinician. They can help you choose proper footwear and take care of your feet on a routine basis and stop any problems before they’re severe. By seeing your doctor regularly and staying on top of any issues you may have, you can reduce your risk of amputation by between 20% and 70%.
For more information on coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.co
Carrying excess body fat can elevate blood sugars and triglycerides over time. Even mildly elevated blood sugars can cause some of these sugars to attach to protein molecules, causing chronic pain.
As a regular reader of these posts, you understand—in part, at least—the importance of controlling carbohydrates in our diets.
There are two forms of carbohydrates. Simple carbohydrates include things like refined sugar, which is commonly contained in cookies, cakes, sodas, ice cream, etc. You probably also know that these items are forbidden on the NeuropathyDR Diet Plan!
There are also complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are manly starches like those found in fruits, vegetables, and grains.
The most dangerous part of high carbohydrate consumption is that it simply causes us to gain weight unnecessarily. The mechanism by which this happens is relatively complex.
In a nutshell, high carbohydrate consumption causes our bodies to produce excess insulin. Production of extra insulin actually causes a number of things to occur, but the most important is lowering of blood sugar by driving excess calories into fat cells.
This is how excess carbohydrates in our diet causes us to gain weight, seemingly very rapidly.
Another factor which many patients are unaware of is carrying excess body fat can elevate blood sugars and triglycerides over time. Even mildly elevated blood sugars can cause some of these sugars to attach to protein molecules. This is responsible for making us feel very stiff and sore.
This also makes it more difficult for our bodies to regulate insulin levels.
Of course, this response is dramatically altered in patients who are diabetic, creating all types of dangerous health effects, including eye disease, kidney disease, and of course peripheral neuropathy and other forms of chronic pain.
The good news is, pre-diabetes and borderline diabetes can often be controlled—and sometimes reversed—by improving the quality of diet.
The sooner we spring into action, the better our chances of impacting our current and future health.
There are, however, two circumstances in which higher carbohydrate consumption maybe needed.
Number one, is if you take insulin. If you take insulin, you need to know that changing your diet, and certain dietary supplementation, especially with thiamine or vitamin B1, can influence your blood sugar and insulin requirements. That’s why need to work very carefully with prescribing healthcare professionals.
Also, if you are an athlete in training, you will need to consume more carbohydrates than average. To avoid excess weight gain, avoid overeating, and emphasize the complex carbohydrates, such as those contained in fruit and vegetables, as opposed to simple sugars.
Also try to confine higher carbohydrate consumption to within one hour before, and perhaps after, strenuous physical activity.
For more information on coping with neuropathy, get your Free E-Book and subscription to the Weekly Ezine “Beating Neuropathy” at http://neuropathydr.co