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Causes and Treatment of Diabetic Nerve Pain - Neuropathy
you want to know what
causes the nerve damage and thus diabetic nerve pain?
explanation for all types of neuropathy
Diabetic nerve damage and the pain are caused by too much sugar
in the blood. The sugar hurts the nerve cell's outer
sheath (the protective outer cover).
cells have three main parts: cell body, axons, and dendrites (or
terminal). (See diagram below)
Nerve damage occurs when the
outer sheathing or the myelin (protective covering) of
nerve cells degenerate. This is similar to an
electrical wire that is covered with insulation, and
the insulation is beginning to crumble. Without
insulation the unprotected wire will start
This short-circuiting will cause all the unpleasant
and painful sensations that people who are suffering from nerve pain go through. When
the nerve damage continues to deteriorate, the nerve
does not relay the nerve impulses and the sensation of
numbness will occur.
Diabetics will suffer from this nerve pain and
it is a major complication of the disease. It is the higher than normal sugar levels that creates
the damage which is why controlling blood sugar is so important. It is an
The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy depend on the type of nerves — motor, sensory, or autonomic — that is damaged. Some people may experience numbness, tingling, and pricking sensations, sensitivity to touch, or muscle weakness. It is the cause of numbness in the fingers and even left arm pain and tingling.
Others may suffer more extreme symptoms, including burning pain (especially at night), shooting pain, muscle wasting, paralysis, or organ or gland dysfunction. Small fiber neuropathy affects the nerve endings in the fingers or toes. When a motor nerve is affected, you get muscle weakness and wasting.
The symptoms of nerve damage and thus what is referred to as diabetic neuropathy are often slight at first. In fact, some mild cases may go unnoticed for a long time.
Numbness, pain, or tingling in the feet and ankles or legs may, after several years, lead to weakness in the muscles of the feet and burning feet.
Diabetic neuropathy can flare up suddenly and affect specific nerves so that an affected individual will develop double vision or drooping eyelids, or weakness and atrophy of the thigh muscles. Nerve damage caused by diabetes generally occurs over a period of years and may lead to problems with the digestive tract and sexual organs, which can cause indigestion, diarrhea or constipation, dizziness, bladder infections, and impotence.
The loss of sensation in the feet may increase the possibility for foot injuries to go unnoticed and develop into ulcers or lesions that become infected, not to mention having trouble with coordination.
Treatments for Neuropathy
Pros: There are several drug treatments for neuropathy. There are
medications such as Lyrica and Cymbalta that are given cover up or block
the pain. Lyrica is an anti-seizure medication. It is used for neuropathy as
it stops the nerves from talking to each other so you don't feel the pain.
Cymbalta is an anti-depressant which is
used because it lowers a person's awareness and thus their awareness of the
pain. One drug occasionally used is Prednisone and also Elavil.
Cons: You have to continue to take the drugs to
the body of vital nutrients and there is a problem withdrawing from it (see Prednisone)
Amitriptyline (Elavil) it lowers
the awareness of the nerve damage but as with all medications, they have side effects that don't enhance your
Additionally, Cymbalta as an anti-depressant can very often
be difficult to get off
without side effects. For info on Cymbalta
Long term these drugs can cause more damage due to side effects and deficiencies it can create.
For side effects of the different drugs go to www.drugs.com
If you are taking any mediation that has a side effect of
neuropathy, you should talk to your doctor to see if there is an alternative
Pros: Combines a footbath with an electrical current. Claims
to open up nerve channels and stimulate circulation to the
Cons: Cost Claims to rebuild
nerves, but no information on how except that it increases circulation.
Pros: The ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture
has been known to help with the symptoms of neuropathy. There is
apparently an ability to improve circulation with this method that would give
similar relief. There is also acupressure which works on the same
principles as acupuncture. For more information go to Acupuncture
Cons: Acupuncture sometimes does not help with
Alpha lipoic acid:
Pros: This is as an anti-oxidant which will help protect the nerves
so no further damage is done to the body. It
can help with the symptoms. In order to help it needs to be taken with Acetyl
l-carnitine. There is evidence that they work together well in helping the body
use nutrients to repair the nerves, but the vital B vitamins need to be taken
Pros: Herbs can make your neuropathy feel better, but aren’t used by the body to repair the nerves. Thus, you need to keep taking them to continue the relief. There are some herbs which shouldn’t be taken more than a few months like Feverfew or Ashwagandha.
Cons: There are problems with herbs. They can
interact with any other medications that you are taking. They can have side
effects. Herbs are similar to drugs in so far as (in therapeutic dosages as
found in the herbs that you can buy) they make the body do what it wouldn't
normally do. While you can use herbs in your salad and in tea without problems,
when you take herbs in a supplement, they are extracts which are far stronger
dosages. Herbs should be taken separately as if there is a problem, you can
isolate what herb is causing the problem. The combination of herbs found in
some supplements prohibits you from doing that.
Remember, herbs are not vitamins. They are natural
substances, but they aren't the vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids &
amino acids that the body needs to function, create energy and to repair
Herbs can make your neuropathy feel better, but aren't
used by the body to repair the nerves. Thus, you need to keep taking them to
continue the relief. There are some herbs which shouldn't be taken more than a
few months like Feverfew or Ashwagandha.
When taking any herbs, check with your pharmacist.
Pharmacies have databases where they can check for interactions and side
Glutamine & B6:
Pros: Although no scientific evidence, some people with chemo
induced neuropathy have said they had some relief.
Cons: There is, however, some
concern that it may stimulate tumor growth.
Anodyne Therapy: Infrared light to increase circulation and stimulate
production of nitric acid. It is supposed to relax the arteries and
eliminate free radicals. Pads are put over the injured areas. Pain is
supposed to be relieved with increased circulation and more nitric oxide in the
blood. Can treat common injuries.
Con: Relieves but doesn't address the cause.
Homeopathic Formula: Homeopathy can give
temporary neuropathic pain relief without side effects or interactions with
Cons: They relieve the symptoms but
don't address the
Topical creams: There are many different
creams available that will bring relief from neuropathy pain. They can be
applied as needed. Capsaicin is a common ingredient. It is used to
relieve pain for arthritis, muscle pain, joint pain, as well as nerve
pain. It can address the inflammation.
Cons: They relieve but don't address the actual
cause. Must continue to use it for relief.
Cold Laser Treatment or Low Level Laser Therapy: It
will give relief from pain. It is non-thermal and won't burn the
surrounding area. It is trying to increase cellular activity. The laser delivers electric pulses to the target area which delivers a jolt
that matches the pulse at which the body perceives pain. It claims to
create a reduction in pain by causing the production of natural pain killer
Cons: Again doesn't address the actual cause of
the pain, so is relief only.
Various blends of B vitamins and other
Addressing different "nerve support"
vitamins that are brought out from time to time including those supposedly
formulated by a medical doctor. There are lots of different ideas about
relieving the symptoms of neuropathy. There are many formulations.
A lot of them are putting different vitamins together and even do include B1 in
the form of benfotiamine and B12 as methyl B12. They even will give mega
doses to try and help the nerves. Some have small amounts of B1
& B12 - which are the most important B vitamins for nerve health.
B1 & B12 are important for nerve health. Check that the amount in
the formula is not low. One formula even had B12 listed as 1 mg. Not sure what
they think that would do for your nerves.
The body needs specific B
vitamins working together to build nerves. For instance, folic acid is
needed to activate the B12. B6, B9 (folic acid) and B2 are needed for B1
to be absorbed. Some of these blends include both B vitamins
and alpha lipoic acid when one needs to be taken with food and the other on an
empty stomach. It is valuable to understand why each ingredient was put
in the formula and whether it will help or just cover up symptoms, is missing
ingredients or are good
to take together.
Here is an article on what creates
B-Vitamins Liquid Delivery
Some brands will tell you that their formula is better because they are in
Liquid is NOT better. Liquid is variable.
When you measure it out its variable and you don't get the exact formula each
time you take it.
Tablet or capsule is very specific and is a superior delivery for building
If the problem is taking a pill, get capsules which can be emptied into food or
None of the above treatments, however,
will build healthy nerves. You can cover up the symptoms and you
can make a person feel less pain, etc. by taking drugs or herbs, but you aren't addressing the cause of the problem which is the health of
We always recommending building health and nerves are
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Building Health Nerves: Healthy nerves
don't create burning or cold sensations when there is nothing hot or cold
around. They don't create sensations for no reason and the communication
between the brain and the muscles work to correctly move and keep the body
For information on building Healthy
For information on what
the nerves need to be healthy
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causes of nerve damage