More About Diabetic Neuropathy

If you are living with diabetes, chances are you are no stranger to neuropathy.  While some (even those who do have nerve damage) might experience no symptoms at all, about 60 to 70 percent of diabetics experience pain, soreness, loss of sensation, tingling in the extremities, and even digestive problems—or other conditions related to organ complications—all symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.  Diabetes is, in turn, one of the most common causes of neuropathy overall. 

Risk of developing diabetes-related neuropathy actually increases with age and extenuating health considerations (such as being overweight), partially because people who have problems with glucose control for extended periods of time—25 years or more—are more susceptible.

So what causes people who have diabetes to develop neuropathic symptoms?  Research is occasionally unclear on the subject, but it is generally agreed that exposure to high blood glucose (high blood sugar) has a negative effect on nerve condition.  Of course, this is in addition to other conditions or lifestyle factors commonly associated with causing or exacerbating neuropathy, such as injury, metabolic inconsistencies, inherited traits, or substance abuse.

Sometimes Called Pre-Diabetes Metabolic Syndrome is rampant in our society...

There are a few kinds of neuropathy associated with diabetes, the most common being peripheral neuropathy (this is the type usually referred to when people simply say “neuropathy;” but we’ll get to the other types in a moment).  Peripheral neuropathy is characterized by pain, numbness, tingling, and loss of motor function, among other sensation-related symptoms.  This type is written about extensively, and can greatly impact quality of life for its sufferers.  The good news is, most treatment and therapy for neuropathy addresses this kind, and many are very effective!

Focal and proximal neuropathy result in muscle weakness and pain, and typically target a specific nerve grouping.  These types of neuropathy are commonly characterized by weakness in the legs, causing difficulty standing and walking.

Autonomic neuropathy, as the name implies, causes changes in autonomic bodily functions.  These include bowel and bladder functions, sexual responses, and digestion.  Autonomic neuropathy can be life-threatening in extreme cases, as it also affects nerves that serve the heart, lungs, and eyes.  Especially troubling to diabetics is the resulting condition of hypoglycemia unawareness, which can obliviate the symptoms most diabetics associate with low glucose.

A comprehensive foot exam is recommended at least once a year for diabetics, to check for peripheral neuropathy.  Once diagnosed, the need for more frequent exams becomes important.  Additional to diabetic amputation concerns, your doctor will want to test your protective sensation by pricking your foot with a pin, or running monofilament across your skin.  If you have lost protective sensation, you could be at risk to develop sores that might not heal properly, leading to infection.

For other types of neuropathy, a NeuropathyDR® clinician will perform a check of heart rate variability to detect how your heart rate changes in response to changes in blood pressure and posture, or even an ultrasound, which can detect whether other internal organs such as the kidneys and bladder are functioning properly.

Tight blood sugar control and a healthy diet is the best way to control diabetic neuropathy, as well as other diabetic conditions.  Even if you don’t have symptoms of neuropathy, checkups with a NeuropathyDR®-trained clinician can help spot warning signs of factors that could endanger your nerve function or even be life-threatening.  In addition to dietary considerations, your clinician can also help any symptoms by prescribing appropriate medication for pain you might experience.

If you have diabetes, you are at risk!  If you have symptoms, or think you might, don’t let it go unchecked.  Remember, the sooner neuropathy is diagnosed, the easier it will be to treat and to slow the progression of this degenerative condition.  Your NeuropathyDR® clinician is trained to identify the various types of neuropathy and recommend the treatments that will help you retain your quality of life.  If you are not already in-touch with a NeuropathyDR® doctor, contact us to find one in your area!

http://www.medicinenet.com/diabetic_neuropathy/article.htm

http://diabetes.niddk.nih.gov/dm/pubs/neuropathies/

http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/neuropathy/

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetic-neuropathy/DS01045

 

 

Neuropathy and Exercise

If you suffer from neuropathy, you know that the pain, muscle control problems, and overall health complications can make even everyday activities harder to manage.  For some, the prospect of exercising while suffering from neuropathy will seem not only unrealistic but an almost ironic misplacement of priorities.  Exercise is important for everyone, though, and in sufferers of neuropathy, can help control blood sugar and actually slow down the progression and symptoms of the condition!

Exercising regularly greatly decreases anyone’s risk of diabetic neuropathy, and has been shown to control symptoms and deterioration in sufferers by elevating overall blood flow to the limbs and controlling cardiovascular atrophy.  Depending on your specific type of neuropathy, areas affected, and the extent of the damage, you will have to adjust conventional workout routines to accommodate the condition.  Ask your NeuropathyDR® clinician if you have questions, and be sure to consult them before beginning any workout program.  Your clinician will inspect your feet and legs for signs of potential problems, and will help you make sure your shoes are properly fitted so as to avoid neuropathy-related injuries.

Additionally:

  • Use silica gel or air midsoles
  • Use polyester or polyester/cotton blend socks to keep your feet dry
  • Avoid any workout clothes that rub against your skin in the same area.

Ann Albright of the Division of Diabetes Translation in Atlanta cautions that neuropathy patients will want to steer clear of most repetitive or weight-bearing exercise, such as running, walking, or extensive weight training (although some sources advocate weight training as beneficial, in moderation).  So which exercises are the most beneficial while reducing risk?

Don't Neglect Stretching and Core Activities...

Swimming is one of the best exercises, as it is an activity adaptable to any age, fitness level, or degree of neuropathy symptoms.  Swimming is also a full-body, “no-impact” workout, and so is less harmful to your joints, legs, and feet than most other forms of exercise, without sacrificing circulation (ask any lap swimmer and they’ll tell you—swimming has no problem getting your heart rate up!)  As such, it is highly recommended for almost anyone.

Bicycling, rowing, and use of a stationary bicycle are other excellent, low-impact activities that can be safely integrated into a neuropathy treatment program. Some organizations have even developed exercise programs for senior citizens suffering from neuropathy, incorporating a heavy emphasis on seated exercises.

If you don’t have regular access to facilities or equipment for more extensive exercise, there are some basic exercises you can do almost anywhere that can help your neuropathy!  Here are some to try:

  • For your hands, touch the pad of your thumb with your index finger, running the finger down to the base of your thumb. Then, repeat the movement with the index, middle, ring, and little fingers. Do this exercise several times.
  • For your legs and feet, straighten one knee and point your foot.  Flex your ankle five times, then circle your foot five times in each direction, clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • To increase balance, try this exercise: from a standing position, rise up slowly on your tiptoes, and then rock backward onto your heels. Keep your knees straight, but try not to lock them.

Additional precautions are vital for neuropathy patients to observe.  After every workout session, patients should remember to check their feet and any relevant extremities for blisters, irritation, or sores. These could be vulnerable to infections, which themselves could elevate risk for amputation.

It is important for neuropathy sufferers to be mindful of their heart rate and blood pressure.  Especially if you suffer from autonomic neuropathy, which can greatly increase risk of heart failure or cardiac arrest, be aware of your limitations when it comes to safe exercise.  Don’t worry—there’s a way for everyone to exercise safely.  If you have any doubts, consult your NeuropathyDR® clinician to review your workout plan.

Finally, be sure to monitor your body temperature.  Neuropathy sufferers are at high risk when it comes to overheating, since some types of neuropathy can reduce the body’s ability to temperature-control.  Consult your clinician if sweating seems overly profuse or the opposite, less than normal.

If you have any questions about exercising with neuropathy, contact us!  We can answer your questions and help put you in touch with a NeuropathyDR® clinician who can help you in person.  Have a great workout!

 

http://www.ehow.com/how-does_5162775_exercise-peripheral-neuropathy.html

http://journal.diabetes.org/diabetesspectrum/98v11n4/pg231.htm

http://www.livestrong.com/article/99573-exercise-peripheral-neuropathy/

http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20189334,00.html

http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20188832,00.html

 

Neuropathy and Exercise

If you suffer from neuropathy, you know that the pain, muscle control problems, and overall health complications can make even everyday activities harder to manage.  For some, the prospect of exercising while suffering from neuropathy will seem not only unrealistic but an almost ironic misplacement of priorities.  Exercise is important for everyone, though, and in sufferers of neuropathy, can help control blood sugar and actually slow down the progression and symptoms of the condition!

Exercising regularly greatly decreases anyone’s risk of diabetic neuropathy, and has been shown to control symptoms and deterioration in sufferers by elevating overall blood flow to the limbs and controlling cardiovascular atrophy.  Depending on your specific type of neuropathy, areas affected, and the extent of the damage, you will have to adjust conventional workout routines to accommodate the condition.  Ask your NeuropathyDR® clinician if you have questions, and be sure to consult them before beginning any workout program.  Your clinician will inspect your feet and legs for signs of potential problems, and will help you make sure your shoes are properly fitted so as to avoid neuropathy-related injuries.

Additionally:

  • Use silica gel or air midsoles
  • Use polyester or polyester/cotton blend socks to keep your feet dry
  • Avoid any workout clothes that rub against your skin in the same area.

Ann Albright of the Division of Diabetes Translation in Atlanta cautions that neuropathy patients will want to steer clear of most repetitive or weight-bearing exercise, such as running, walking, or extensive weight training (although some sources advocate weight training as beneficial, in moderation).  So which exercises are the most beneficial while reducing risk?

Don't Neglect Stretching and Core Activities...

Swimming is one of the best exercises, as it is an activity adaptable to any age, fitness level, or degree of neuropathy symptoms.  Swimming is also a full-body, “no-impact” workout, and so is less harmful to your joints, legs, and feet than most other forms of exercise, without sacrificing circulation (ask any lap swimmer and they’ll tell you—swimming has no problem getting your heart rate up!)  As such, it is highly recommended for almost anyone.

Bicycling, rowing, and use of a stationary bicycle are other excellent, low-impact activities that can be safely integrated into a neuropathy treatment program. Some organizations have even developed exercise programs for senior citizens suffering from neuropathy, incorporating a heavy emphasis on seated exercises.

If you don’t have regular access to facilities or equipment for more extensive exercise, there are some basic exercises you can do almost anywhere that can help your neuropathy!  Here are some to try:

  • For your hands, touch the pad of your thumb with your index finger, running the finger down to the base of your thumb. Then, repeat the movement with the index, middle, ring, and little fingers. Do this exercise several times.
  • For your legs and feet, straighten one knee and point your foot.  Flex your ankle five times, then circle your foot five times in each direction, clockwise and counterclockwise.
  • To increase balance, try this exercise: from a standing position, rise up slowly on your tiptoes, and then rock backward onto your heels. Keep your knees straight, but try not to lock them.

    Gentle massage & manual stimulation in the clinic helps speed recovery...

Additional precautions are vital for neuropathy patients to observe.  After every workout session, patients should remember to check their feet and any relevant extremities for blisters, irritation, or sores. These could be vulnerable to infections, which themselves could elevate risk for amputation.

It is important for neuropathy sufferers to be mindful of their heart rate and blood pressure.  Especially if you suffer from autonomic neuropathy, which can greatly increase risk of heart failure or cardiac arrest, be aware of your limitations when it comes to safe exercise.  Don’t worry—there’s a way for everyone to exercise safely.  If you have any doubts, consult your NeuropathyDR® clinician to review your workout plan.

Finally, be sure to monitor your body temperature.  Neuropathy sufferers are at high risk when it comes to overheating, since some types of neuropathy can reduce the body’s ability to temperature-control.  Consult your clinician if sweating seems overly profuse or the opposite, less than normal.

If you have any questions about exercising with neuropathy, contact us!  We can answer your questions and help put you in touch with a NeuropathyDR® clinician who can help you in person.  Have a great workout!

 

http://www.ehow.com/how-does_5162775_exercise-peripheral-neuropathy.html

http://journal.diabetes.org/diabetesspectrum/98v11n4/pg231.htm

http://www.livestrong.com/article/99573-exercise-peripheral-neuropathy/

http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20189334,00.html

http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20188832,00.html