Diabetes is a health problem in the U.S. and worldwide. More than 10 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes. Studies show over 45% of people with diabetes have some peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy is an illness involving nerve damage from diabetes. Neuropathic pain, also called diabetic neuropathy pain, is a common complication of diabetes. People describe the pain as stabbing, burning, or shooting. Many patients complain of pain in their feet that often keep them from sleeping well at night.
Pain medications are helpful for some people, but they don’t work for everyone. Most consumers use complementary treatments to improve their body’s pain response. Holistic medicine might be safe and effective for managing neuropathic pain.
What is Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy is a problem with the nervous system. It causes weakness, numbness, and pain in the hands and feet. The most common type of neuropathy happens because of diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar levels damage the nerves in the body.
This condition is diabetic neuropathy or diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Other types of neuropathy include:
- Alcoholic neuropathy- a condition caused after drinking a lot of alcohol for years
- Autoimmune neuropathy- a condition that causes the body’s immune system to attack nerves
- Chemotherapy-induced neuropathy- a side effect of chemotherapy for cancer treatment
- HIV/AIDS-related neuropathy- a complication of HIV infection and AIDS
What are the Symptoms of Neuropathy?
The symptoms of neuropathy depend on which nerves are damaged. The most common symptoms are:
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet
- Burning, aching, or shooting pain in the hands or feet
- Muscle weakness in the hands or feet
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Difficulty walking or standing
What is the Typical Treatment for Neuropathy?
Your doctor’s treatment plan depends on the type of neuropathy and the severity of the symptoms. The first action is to control blood sugar levels to reduce nerve damage from diabetes.
Some treatments include:
- Medications to help ease the pain- including over-the-counter pain medications, prescription pain medications, and anticonvulsants
- Physical therapy to improve strength, balance, and coordination
- Surgery to relieve pressure on the nerves, such as a nerve decompression surgery
- Nerve stimulation- a technique that uses devices implanted under the skin to help block pain signals
What Are Some Natural Ways to Control Neuropathic Pain?
Patients use complementary therapies besides typical treatments for neuropathy. Patients with chronic pain are more likely to try complementary therapies. Complementary therapies for neuropathy include:
Research shows yoga may help reduce neuropathic pain. A review of studies found practicing yoga helped reduce pain intensity, frequency, and duration in people with neuropathy. Participants felt yoga improved the way their bodies handled the pain.
Yoga also helps ease depression and anxiety that chronic pain can cause. Yoga may help people with neuropathy better handle stress and reduce their level of depression and anxiety.
Massage is an alternative treatment that provides comfort and reduces pain. Research shows massage might help relieve neuropathic pain, but it’s unclear how it works. Massage may reduce stress hormones like cortisol, which can affect pain levels. However, more research is necessary to determine the benefits of massage for people with neuropathy.
Biofeedback may help people with neuropathy learn how to manage their pain better. This treatment helps people learn how to control their body’s functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. A review of studies found that biofeedback helped reduce pain intensity and improve quality of life.
Research shows that meditation helps reduce pain. One study showed that mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) was as effective as pain medication for reducing pain intensity in people with neuropathy. MBSR is a type of meditation that teaches people how to focus on the present moment.
Acupuncture might help control neuropathic pain. This ancient Chinese therapy uses needles to stimulate specific points on the body. A review of studies found that acupuncture was helpful in reducing pain intensity, numbness, and tingling. Acupuncture may also help improve quality of life.
Try CBD to Encourage Wellness
Natural remedies can be an effective way to control pain caused by neuropathy. CBD, a non-psychoactive chemical found in the hemp plant, may help ease neuropathy symptoms with few side effects. CBD oil is available online and in some health food stores.
What is the Best Way to Use CBD for Neuropathy?
Consumers can take CBD in a few different ways. The popular cannabinoid is available in several forms, including oral and topical administration. It’s crucial to find the best method for you and start with a low dose to see how your body reacts.
If you are interested in CBD for neuropathy, talk to your doctor first. They can ensure you don’t have any interactions with the medications.
A person’s quality of life depends on how they handle the pain. Soreness, inflammation, and discomfort can make it difficult to do everyday activities, such as working, caring for oneself, or enjoying time with family and friends. Using complementary therapies can help patients better control their pain and improve their quality of life. When used with traditional treatments, complementary therapies can help people with neuropathy manage their pain and improve their quality of life.
Combine Complementary Treatments for Maximum Relief
Using a combination of complementary therapies may provide maximum relief from neuropathic pain. Patients can use yoga, massage, acupuncture, biofeedback, and meditation to control their pain. CBD oil may also help ease symptoms. Talk to your doctor about the best combination of treatments for you.
How Do You Prevent Diabetic Neuropathy or Slow its Progression?
You can lower the risk of neuropathy by controlling your blood sugar levels. People with diabetes should check their blood sugars and keep a healthy diet and exercise routine. Keep your blood sugar under control to reduce and prevent nerve damage.
You should also get regular checkups from your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment of neuropathy can help prevent further damage to the nerves.
Besides treatments, patients can control how they respond to neuropathy. You can take stock of your life and become more aware of stressors. Patients should schedule time for relaxation and self-care.
The American Diabetes Association offers many resources to help people learn about complementary treatments for their neuropathy. You can find these resources on the ADA website.
Neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves, causing them to become inflamed and damaged. If you have diabetes, you should know neuropathy symptoms and visit a doctor if you have any concerns.
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