May 23, 2012

What Is Diabetic Neuropathy? - Part 2

Today, there is no cure for diabetic neuropathy. Optimistically I feel that medicine is closer than before. There is a host of treatments available and some may assist you in reducing the effects of diabetic neuropathy, while others may not help at all. The most effective treatment is maintaining blood glucose levels at or near normal. This seems to be impossible for about 50 percent of people with diabetes, as they will develop diabetic neuropathy.

With the studies still finding other causes, I am a little cautious about the statement that the metabolic causes of diabetic neuropathy are perfectly understood and documented. Treatments are yet still in the infancy state, but several are on the way. First, I will discuss some of the aids to help in reducing the pain and controlling some of the symptoms. Unless people start realizing that they need to manage blood glucose levels, diabetic neuropathy will, like diabetes, continue to get progressively worse.

The blog here by Gretchen Becker also explains part of the reason I am cautious about people understanding everything about diabetic neuropathy. We may be closer, but there is more that we may learn.

There are a few drug-related options as well as physical therapy for controlling pain caused by diabetic neuropathy.

Drug Options:
  • Antiepileptic Drugs: these are becoming a common drug for painful diabetic neuropathy. It has important side effects like sedation and weight gain.
  • Classic Analgesics: for those with a debilitating chronic pain condition, these drugs can offer immediate relief.
  • Trycilic Antidepressants: Very effective in decreasing pain but since the doses must be high for them to be effective the individual can become addicted t the dosage. Cardiac arrests are common when ingesting these drugs.
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Inhibitors: these are commonly used to target painful symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. They may also help depressive patients.
Physical therapy is the next area for investigation. With medications, physical therapy can help relieve pain and should be used to avoid drug dependency. Certain physical therapies can help alleviate pain, burning, and tingling sensations in legs, feet. Physical therapy may also help patients with muscle cramps, muscle weakness, and even sexual dysfunction.

Then there is electrical nerve stimulation, which is painless (although I can't attest to this), may help those suffering from stiffness. Electrical nerve stimulation may also help foot ulcers heal.

Regular massages or manual therapy involving stretching of the muscles performed by qualified chiropractors or massage therapists will inhibit muscle contractions, spasms, and atrophy due to poor blood supply. Muscle strengthening with specific exercises, such as swimming or even some aerobic exercises will help maintain muscle strength and reduce muscle mass reduction.

A good physical therapist will make sure that exercises for patients with diabetic neuropathy do not hurt their feet, which are usually sensitive. Therapeutic ultrasound is a method of stimulating the tissue beneath the skin's surface using very high frequency sound waves, can help some patients regain sensitivity in their feet. The latter did not work for me, but did for another patient and he had few problems for several years.

Events are unfolding in the world of neuropathy and neuropathic pain. I have two articles of which this is one and holds promise for those of us suffering from neuropathic pain. This medication, which will not be on the US market for several years, will help with neuropathic pain and epileptic seizures. It has been developed in Israel so it will be necessary to have it on the market there before FDA gets it hands on it. This should hold out hope for anyone suffering neuropathic pain.

The second article is about a food product available now by prescription. It is to relieve the numbness caused by neuropathy and restore much of the sensations deadened by neuropathy. This product is not a cure, but a needed bandage for neuropathy and the lack of feeling in your feet and hands. There are some questions that still need answering, as this could be the closest we have come to having a product that will reverse the effects of neuropathy. Read an article about it in the above link, or go directly to their website and read about it. Use the site for contact with representatives if you find a doctor that will prescribe the medication.

The complications of diabetic neuropathy can sneak up very quietly and sometimes be very devastating. So be very careful if you have or are treating diabetic neuropathy. If you lose sensation in your feet, the risk of infections can grow very rapidly if you do not check you feet daily. If you are not able to see the bottoms of your feet, have another family member check them for you, or if this is not possible, get yourself a mirror on a pole that can be used for this task. Get to a doctor if you have a cut that is not healing or a bruise that is not getting better.

Bladder and kidney infections need immediate attention and should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. Frequent nausea and vomiting can result in poor blood glucose management thereby make the neuropathy worse and you should also see a doctor. The last item is muscle damage or decrease that needs attention by a doctor. Do not let these complications of diabetic neuropathy get the advantage of you, but see a doctor and let the doctor make the decision about what needs to be done.

Next blog is the final of three parts.

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