Some people with diabetes and the nerve pain -- or peripheral neuropathy that comes with it -- find relief in surprisingly simple ways. Sometimes a nice, warm (but not hot) bath is enough to relieve stress and nerve pain. If you have neuropathy, by the way, you might want to have someone else test the water to make sure it's not too hot. A massage can also help. Other people turn to biofeedback, meditation, relaxation techniques, or hypnosis -- all of which have been proven to help.
"These methods of alternative medicine have shown tremendous promise," says Tom Elasy, MD, director of the Diabetes Clinic at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. "I have many patients who have pursued alternative approaches, and I get very positive feedback about the results."
What kind of exercise is safe -- and fun -- if you have nerve damage from diabetes, called diabetic neuropathy? And how can you stay motivated after that first flush of inspiration fades?
"It depends on where you're starting," says Dace L. Trence, MD, an endocrinologist and director of the Diabetes Care Center at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. "For the person who has been doing nothing, you would certainly want to start doing something that's comfortable and enjoyable and...
It is possible, through biofeedback, to train the body to decrease the severity of diabetes nerve pain. This involves consciously controlling a body function that is normally regulated by the body -- like skin temperature, heart rate, or blood pressure.
It may sound like science fiction, but evidence of the benefits of biofeedback is quite good. It's been used to help control migraine pain, epilepsy seizures, high blood pressure, and other common problems.
How does it work? You wear sensors on your head and elsewhere that let you "hear" or "see" certain bodily functions such as pulse, digestion, body temperature, and muscle tension. The squiggly lines and/or beeps on the attached monitors reflect what's going on inside your body. Then you learn to control those beeps and squiggles. After a few sessions, your mind has trained your biological system to learn the skills. It is not hard to master, say experts.
Meditation to Relieve Diabetes Nerve Pain
Meditation is a therapy offered in many pain treatment centers for diabetes and other painful disorders. Research shows that meditation can lower blood pressure and improve heart rate, breathing, and brain waves. Tension and tightness seep from muscles as the body receives a quiet message to relax.
The soothing power of repetition is at the heart of meditation. Focusing on the breath, ignoring thoughts, and repeating a word or phrase -- a mantra -- makes the body relax. People describe feeling warmth, calm, even a sense of heaviness while they meditate.
While you can learn meditation on your own, it helps to take a class. A teacher can guide you -- and help you reach that deeper, more relaxed state.
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