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Wednesday, 2-Nov-2011 05:11 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Diabetic Nerve Pain

Diabetic nerve pain is the symptom of diabetes that people mention most. That's probably because nearly 70% of diabetics have some nerve damage. And diabetic nerve damage usually shows up first in feet.

That has some major consequences. More than 60% of non-traumatic amputations are reported by hospitals to be related to diabetes. And most of those amputations are toes and feet. They are directly linked to nerve damage, the kind that causes diabetic nerve pain. Amputation is too high a price to pay, and if knowing the cause and what to do about it can help, that is what this article is for.

It Starts With Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is a medical term that means nerve pain in toes, fingers, hands and feet. It shows up as numbness, tingling, burning, prickling, sharp pains and cramps, and loss of sensitivity to pain and temperature.

Along with loss of the sense of touch, you might have extreme sensitivity to touch, even light touch in your feet and legs. Some people can't bear the weight of a sheet on their feet at night. The problem is so widespread that there is a 'bed cradle' you can buy to keep the covers off your feet so you can sleep without pain but still keep your feet warm.

When diabetic nerve pain gets worse it can lead to loss of balance and coordination. Hands get carpal tunnel syndrome and begin to drop things. Feet get hammertoes, blisters, sores and infections that won't heal because the nerves and blood flow are not there. That's when doctors prescribe amputation to remove the dead parts so the living parts can survive.

When you visit your doctor for a checkup, do you wonder why he pokes your toes? It's a quick way to assess, or check for peripheral neuropathy. It's called the monofilament test. A short piece of stiff plastic that looks like fishing line is used to press against the skin of your toes, soles, the tops of your feet and ankles. If you feel it, good. If not, diabetic nerve pain and damage has begun.

Sometimes the doctor will use a tuning fork to find out if you can feel vibration in different parts of your feet. He will also check the pulses at your ankles, and feels the temperature of your feet.

All this helps him tell if peripheral neuropathy has begun. He'll ask if you've been seeing a podiatrist and if you inspect your feet every day. There's a lot of information on taking care of your feet available on

How To Stop Diabetic Nerve Pain

There are things you can do to prevent diabetic nerve pain. The first is the most important. Keep your blood sugar in good ranges as much as you can. A hemoglobin A1C under 7 means you are doing just that. Most doctors check type 2 diabetics with this test every three months.

Next, you need to exercise. Legs have the largest muscles in your body, and using them by walking, biking, swimming, dancing, and every other way you can think of, brings back the best returns for weight loss, stamina, strength, lowering blood sugar, and reducing nerve damage by stimulating the muscles around them.

The trouble is that legs are attached to feet, and if your feet hurt, exercising your legs gets tougher. It's more likely you'll avoid exercising if you have diabetic nerve pain in your feet.

It's hard to accept this sometimes, but it's true - foot pain is improved by exercise. That's exactly why good shoes are so important. Diabetic shoes will improve foot pain by supporting without binding.

Next are creams, patches and physical therapy. Capsaicin creams, which you can find on the store shelves beside the athlete's foot medications, have something in them that improves your diabetic nerve pain naturally. It comes from cayenne pepper.

If the cream makes your hands burn after you rub your feet with it, use some rubber or plastic gloves. You'll find them in the pharmacy section too. Don't give up if it doesn't work at first. It takes a couple of weeks of use, but it's worth it.

Lidocaine patches are applied to the skin of painful areas to numb the nerves. Aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflamatories like ibuprofen also help, and if you take them a few minutes before walking, you might be able to exercise longer. (Tylenol has no anti-inflammatory effect so it might not do much.)

Physical therapy, which is simply exercises and stretches tailored to a specific body part, can get you back up on your feet. And has lots of free videos of physical therapy designed for feet, ankles and legs. The stretches that help me the most are for the bottoms of my feet, the plantar fascia.

What you eat can help too. Antioxidants are found in the superfood family, mostly fruits and vegetables, and they have been shown to improve diabetic nerve pain and even reverse nerve damage. That makes them at least worth a try. The best ones have B vitamins in them. And a daily dose of vitamin D is great for pain too. How do you get it? From sunshine! How's that for free medication?

It's time for us type 2 diabetics with nerve pain to get back on our feet. We won't let diabetes take our toes, not without a fight.

Martha Zimmer invites you to visit her website and learn more about type 2 diabetes, its complications and how you can deal with them, as well as great tips for eating healthy that will make living with diabetes less painful.

Wednesday, 2-Nov-2011 05:10 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Type 2 Diabetes - Obesity And Insulin Resistance

Obesity is much more than just adding a few pounds or kilograms to your body weight. The excess weight causes a myriad of different medical complications. One of the major conditions that can result from it is insulin resistance which is where the body's insulin becomes less effective at lowering blood sugars.

Insulin resistance has been known by several names over the years. It was once referred to as syndrome X and even today is sometimes called the metabolic syndrome.

What causes some people to be more prone to insulin resistance than others? Although there are several factors that can be involved, including lack of activity and genetics, one of the main ones is being overweight.

Insulin, the hormone that is produced by the pancreas, is used by the body to convert glucose into energy. As food is broken down into glucose by way of the digestive system, it uses the bloodstream as a highway to take the glucose to cells throughout the body, where it is stored for energy needs. When food is eaten and glucose levels are rising, the pancreas reacts by releasing just the right amount of insulin. Insulin helps the cells to take in the glucose so that it can be properly used.

When insulin resistance occurs, the body is not adequately using the insulin it is manufacturing. It is just as the name implies: the body is resisting allowing the insulin to carry the glucose in the bloodstream into the cells, as it is intended. Since the body does not utilize the insulin in your bloodstream, it senses a deficit. In response, the pancreas does the only thing that it can: it produces even more insulin.

The added insulin meets the same fate as the previous insulin, in not being allowed into the cells where it can be utilized. The body says it is still low on insulin. The pancreas produces more. This vicious cycle goes on and on until, finally, the pancreas simply can't keep up and insulin continues to accumulate in your bloodstream. Excess glucose begins to build in the bloodstream also. This is why individuals who are experiencing insulin resistance will not only have high blood sugar levels, they will also have high blood insulin levels.

Having insulin resistance dramatically increases the possibility of developing Type 2 diabetes, as well as heart disease and other conditions. The common link between all of these diseases is excess fat. Scientists also know that once an individual loses weight, insulin resistance improves.

The area where excess weight can affect insulin resistance is when it is located around the waist... this is often referred to as belly fat or abdominal fat.

Once a person develops insulin resistance, can it be reversed? Absolutely. By implementing simple steps such as losing weight and belly fat by increasing your level of activity and following a healthy diet, these individuals can ward off progressing into Type 2 diabetes. Just because you are considered to be prediabetic, it is not a guarantee you will also develop Type 2 diabetes. You can take action and change all that!

Losing the excess weight allows your body to utilize it's insulin more efficiently. Once the cells are more sensitive to insulin, this, in turn, allows your body to allow the glucose to enter your cells for energy as it was intended.

Besides losing weight and exercise, medication is often prescribed to combat the condition. But medication should always be considered the secondary approach to fighting insulin resistance since losing weight and implementing an exercise regimen benefits so many others areas of your life as well. While medication will help to manage the condition, it should never be considered a long-term plan. It is more intended as a temporary measure until your weight and activity level can be increased to a more acceptable range.

Wednesday, 2-Nov-2011 05:09 Email | Share | | Bookmark
How To Take Care Of The Diabetic Foot

According to the American Diabetes Association, there are 25.8 million people living with diabetes. Diabetes is a condition characterized by blood sugar levels that are too high. Over time these high sugars cause complications that include heart problems, visual changes, kidney disease and nerve damage. One of the most common diabetic complications, is foot problems.

Diabetic patients suffer from many different foot problems such as infections, slow wound healing and amputations. These complications occur because hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar levels, cause damage to the nerves and the blood vessels in the feet. When this occurs, the patient cannot feel pain from open wounds and poor blood flow to the foot delays healing, resulting in foot infections that are difficult to treat and may need to be managed through amputations.

Good glucose control is the best way to prevent all complications from diabetes. To achieve this, the diabetic patient should eat the proper diet, check fingerstick readings regularly and completing routine blood testing to measure diabetes control. In addition, one of the most important ways to protect your feet from diabetic complications is by wearing proper orthopedic footwear.

When selecting orthopedic shoes consider these tips to find the perfect footwear!

Shoes should fit well but not too tightly. Shop at the end of the day to buy shoes that will accommodate for foot swelling. Also, look for footwear with a wide toe box to keep toes from rubbing.

Also, look for diabetic shoes with thick cushions and shock absorbing soles to prevent pressure sores on the foot.

Next find shoes with removable inserts so that orthotic devices can be inserted if these are recommended by your doctor to correct certain foot deformities, like bunions or hammer toes.

If you have diabetes, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist. This doctor is specially trained to inspect the diabetic foot for abnormalities, nerve problems and poor circulation. Only your podiatrist can recommend shoes that will best meet your individual needs.

Don't forget to take good care of your feet through daily foot inspections and careful cleaning. Wear quality socks that wick moisture and are free of holes and seams. Invest in quality orthopedic shoes that fit properly. Good sugar control goes a long way in preventing diabetic complications. Be sure to stick to the diabetic diet and take medications as prescribed. Daily sugar checks are also important to keeping your sugars under good control. These little steps go a long way in preventing diabetic foot ulcers, infections and amputations!


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