One of the most common complications in people with Type I and Type II diabetes is diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Characterized by numbness or pain in the fingers, hands, feet, and toes, what causes this condition and how it is treated is often misunderstood. These three keys to diabetic nerve pain are not only essential to understanding the annoying numbness or painful tingling, they also offer clues in how to treat it.
Three Things You Should Know About Diabetic Nerve Pain
- Poor Blood Glucose Control is a Problem
Every doctor and specialist will tell you that poor blood glucose control causes a host of additional health complications in people with both Type I and Type II diabetes. When you eat food that contains carbohydrate – whether it is from a donut or a carrot – your pancreas begins producing insulin to unlock the energy found in that carbohydrate. The body can then metabolize it into energy in order to function properly. In both Type I and Type II diabetes, high blood glucose levels trigger the liver to produce an acid called a ketone which signals to the body to begin burning fat rather than carbohydrate. Unfortunately, this process does not allow for enough energy for the body to function the way it should. What results is less vital parts of the body, such as nerves in the fingers, toes, hands, and feet, are sacrificed for the maintenance of more important systems, such as respiration and digestion. When blood glucose is kept within a normal range, the body’s systems are allowed to function the way they should, preserving the nerves in the body.
- Exercise is Important
Since diabetes carries with it an increased risk of diabetic nerve pain, it is important to encourage blood to flow throughout the body as efficiently as possible. This is best done through regular, moderate exercise. Not only does exercise allow for increased blood flow to the hands, fingers, feet, and legs, it also reduces inflammation, improves mood, enhances cardiovascular health, and significantly improves pain. Exercise also helps you to control your weight and better manage your blood sugar, which are keys to stopping diabetic nerve pain from getting worse.
- Antioxidants are Awesome!
Remember how insulin plays a vital role in unlocking the energy potential of carbohydrate in our diets? This process requires our cells to remove electrons from sugar, amino acids and fatty acids and bond them to molecules found in our bodies. What results is an unstable particle known as a free radical. If left unchecked, free radicals can cause stress to our bodies resulting in conditions such as diabetic nerve pain. Fortunately, eating whole foods rich in antioxidants can keep free radicals in check and allow the body’s systems to function properly. Diets that include adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables are important in keeping blood glucose under control and nerve pain at bay.
Diabetic nerve pain is not an inevitable part of living with Type I and Type II diabetes. Combining a healthy diet, exercise and appropriate blood glucose control can lessen the likelihood of developing this uncomfortable and often painful condition.