Burning! Tingling! Numbness! Warning: treat your body like a temple, not a woodshed. Remember: YOU are the most important asset you have; treat yourself accordingly.
In the early stages of diabetes, when patients feel fine, they don’t often make huge strides to prevent possible complications of diabetes. Like many of life’s disruptions, neuropathy is a wake up call. In general, neuropathy is a disease of the nerves and causes tingling , burning or numbness in certain areas of the body, especially the feet. Diabetes is one of the most common causes of peripheral neuropathy. High blood sugar levels can cause structural breakdown of nerves. The best way to understand neuropathy is through this analogy: nerves are like the greedy, little children in a candy store. Our nerve cells will take glucose (the sugar molecule) from the bloodstream and try to metabolize the glucose whether the cell is in need of energy or not. This alternate metabolic pathway will yield products that are damaging to our nerves. Medications to lower blood glucose levels can only do so much. Controlling diet and nutrition are paramount to minimizing this complication. This involves working with a nutritionist or primary care physician to develop a realistic diet for lowering blood glucose and to minimize fluctuations in glucose. Patients should also be encouraged to remain as active as possible. Note: It is best to be cleared by a doctor before initiating an exercise regimen.
Treatment options for diabetic neuropathy are limited. Duloxetine (anti-depressant medication) and pregabalin (an anti-convulsant) are approved in the U.S for treatment of painful neuropathy but do not address the underlying pathology of the disease or improve sensation. Ready for this? L-methylfolate, methylcobalamin, and pyridoxal-5’-phosphate are the biologically active and immediately bioavailable forms of folate, Vitamin B12, and Vitamin B6, respectively. This is available as a medical food in a pill form. Deficiencies of Vitamins B12 and B6 may contribute to nerve defects and folate improves circulation. Metanx is a medical food that provides nutritional management for patients with diabetic neuropathy to restore the imbalance in the metabolic processes responsible for vascular (circulation) and neuronal (nerve) repair.
In conclusion, neuropathy can be a debilitating disease. Together, both the patient and the physician can come up with a plan to address and combat neuropathy.