Numb To The Touch - Learning The Nature Of Diabetic Neuropathy.



I first learnt about neuropathy after my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and started to have numbness and loss of sensation in her fingers following multiple rounds of chemo.


We began to get very concerned when it became increasingly difficult for her to do buttons up or tie shoe laces.


We were told by her medical team that there was not a lot we could do but to try exercise and maybe reflexology. In hindsight, this information was poor at best and as the condition progressed, so did her stress and worry.


One of the amazing things that came out of breast cancer was the support network, and it was these people that provided tips and guidance to hopefully slow down or stop the advancement of her neuropathy.


Our now close friend Edith, mentioned that she had acupuncture and this had helped her and many other patients. Upon taking this to our oncologist, we were told there was little research to back up this claim and she was almost opposed to the idea.


Despite this, we decided to try it as we had nothing to lose. Within one week her neuropathy had gone. Nothing else changed during this week that could have contributed to her neuropathy disappearing. We were surprised to say the least, but It showed us that western medicine didn’t always have the answers.



I know what you’re thinking; “that was a long intro to an article on ‘diabetic neuropathy‘ that hadn’t yet discussed the actual topic“.


Sorry, but we take from our own experiences and I’m hoping this will be the only time I’m exposed to neuropathy.


That being said; neuropathy is a common complication of chronically high blood sugars, which leads to nerves being injured. Half of all diabetics will develop neuropathy.


Depending on the affected nerves, symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can range from pain and numbness in your legs and feet to problems with your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels and heart. mayoclinic.org

There are 4 types of neuropathy and It’s possible to have more than one.


It’s very important to note that it is commonly recognised that maintaining strict glycemic control, I.e. great blood sugars in target range and over long periods - can often slow or even prevent this condition. Please keep that in mind.


Peripheral Neuropathy


This is the most common type of diabetic neuropathy. It affects the feet and legs first, followed by the hands and arms.


Common symptoms are numbness, tingling, burning, sharp pains, muscle weakness and loss of balance.


Autonomic Neuropathy


Your autonomic system encompasses your eyes, heart, bladder, intestines, sex organs, and stomach. If your nerves are affected in these areas, it can lead to the following;


- Erectile dysfunction

- Increased or decreased sweating

- Gastroparesis (delayed stomach emptying

- Constipation

- Uncontrolled diarrhoea

- hypo unawareness (the lack of awareness that your blood sugars are low).


Please note, again, strict glycemic control can prevent or slow this process.



Radiculoplexus Neuropathy


This can affect the nerves in the lower half of the body. The buttocks, thighs, hips and legs.


The symptoms are weakness and pain in your lower part of the body, difficulty rising from sitting, swelling and weight loss.


It is more common in type 2 diabetes and older adults.


Mononeuropathy


This occurs when there is damage to a specific nerve in your body. It can be very painful at first but you may well not have any long-term problems.


It can affect your chest, thigh, back or lower leg. This neuropathy can also impact your eyes and face, so it’s important to always consult your doctor if you have any burning, tingling or weakness; as well as sores, cuts, dizziness, problems with digestion, or sexual function.


The overwhelming risk factor for all types of neuropathy is uncontrolled blood sugars. Once you have one complication, it may well lead to another.


There are other risks associated with neuropathy such as smoking, kidney disease and obesity, so it’s wise to live as healthy as possible, otherwise, complications could be like waiting for a bus. Nothing comes for ages, then three turn up at once.


Taking care of ourselves


Take heed of the old adage; Prevention is better than cure.


For neuropathy, this is indeed the case. So what can we be doing to avoid this nasty condition?


1) Strict glycemic control.

2) Proper foot health - check them everyday and keep them clean and dry.

3) Regular exercise.

4) oh, and maybe try acupuncture.


That’s it. It’s not brain surgery..


(it’s more complicated than that - it’s managing diabetes).


Nathan

Believe the hypo

www.believethehypo.com



References:

www.mayoclinic.org

betterhealth.vic.gov.au

healthdirect.gov.au





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