Pain. Tingling. Numbness. If you have a type of nerve damage from diabetes called diabetic peripheral neuropathy, chances are you've experienced these symptoms, especially in your hands and feet. The discomfort can affect your mood, sleep, and overall quality of life.
Prescription medications can help. But research shows that they only ease the pain by about 30% to 50%. How can you bridge the gap? Learn how you can get relief now -- and prevent the condition from getting worse down the road.
Managing type 2 diabetes means being good to yourself.
“Diabetes requires self-care to do it well,” says Robin Goland, MD, diabetes research director at New York-Presbyterian Hospital. “While many women are comfortable at taking care of others, it can be hard for them to take care of themselves.”
Your first line of defense is a healthy diet and exercise plan, so talk to your doctor about creating one that will likely include:
Getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity on most days. Anything...
If you bring your blood sugar into the healthy range (a hemoglobin A1C reading of 7% or lower), you'll reduce your risk of nerve damage by 60%, according to research from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "Healthy blood sugar levels can slow the process and ease the pain of diabetic neuropathy," says Aaron I. Vinik, MD, PhD, the director of the research and neuroendocrine unit at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
How can you keep your blood sugar in check? First, talk to your doctor. "A rapid drop can actually make the pain worse," Vinik says. Your doctor can suggest changes to gently bring your levels down into the healthy zone, like:
Eat a diet high that's in fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and whole grains; contains a moderate amount of fish, poultry, nuts, and beans; and has a very low amount of red meat.
If your doctor prescribes medication for your blood sugar, take it as recommended.
Take an Over-the-Counter Pain Reliever
Acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen can ease mild to moderate pain caused by diabetic nerve damage, says Kimberly Sackheim, DO, a clinical assistant professor of rehabilitation medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center's Rusk Rehabilitation. "But speak with your physician if you take them regularly," she says. Some of these drugs may raise your risk of heart attack, stroke, or kidney damage.
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