If you have diabetes, there is a 50 percent chance you will end up with peripheral neuropathy. This condition is characterized by numbness, tingling, and pain. It usually effects your feet and lower legs. It is caused by the high amount of sugar in your blood damaging nerves. It can keep you from sleeping, affect your daily activities, and cause mood swings. Unfortunately, once the nerves are damaged, there is no cure. You can work to keep the problem from worsening and there are a few options for managing the pain.
Initially, you may be able to get by with over-the-counter pain relievers. If these do not help, your doctor may prescribe a variety of medications to help manage your neuropathy pain. To keep you from becoming dependent on pain killers, he or she may start by prescribing anti-seizure and/or antidepressant drugs. You may also use creams or ointments containing capsaicin to decrease the strength of the pain as the signals reach the nerves. Of course, your doctor will also be keeping an eye on your blood sugar levels and working with you to adjust the medication and keep your diabetes under control.
A transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) unit is a small, battery-operated device. You carry the unit in a pocket. Two electrodes connected to the unit are attached to the spots on your body that has the most pain. You program the unit to emit currents in different wavelengths and frequencies. These little jolts change the pain signal as it travels to your brain so you do not feel the pain in the same way, or as intense.
An acupuncturist inserts tiny needles into specific areas to help relieve pain. There are two theories on why acupuncture works to relieve neuropathy pain management. The Chinese feel the needles disrupt the flow of energy, relieving the pain. Western medicine believes the relief is felt because the needles stimulate the release of endorphins. It doesn't matter which you believe, it can't hurt to try it.
Controlling your diabetes is the best way to keep from suffering with diabetic neuropathy. However, even people who always take their meds and watch their diet can eventually end up with this complication. You do not have to suffer. Don't spend your nights tossing and turning, losing sleep. This will only make your blood sugar harder to control. Talk with your doctor about the different options available to manage the pain. Also, consider contacting a pharmacy such as Potter's House Apothecary, Inc, for ideas about which medications might help.