It's true, spring is around the corner! While this can mean longer days and warmer temperatures, it can also be very dangerous for clients that have diabetes or neuropathy.
For many clients who have been less active over the winter months, this transition to spring can cause them to overextend themselves. For clients with diabetes or neuropathy, nerve damage is a year-round concern; however, there might have been changes in nerve health over the winter months. Not all nerve damage causes pain, many people can develop numbness or a loss of sensation that could go undetected. Also, the nerves that control the heart and blood vessels can be damaged as well.
The nerves that control the heart and blood vessels are part of the autonomic nervous system. Clinically speaking, damage to these nerves is called Cardiac Autonomic Neuropathy (CAN). The autonomic system controls many essential systems in the body including the heart, blood vessels, digestions and bowel movements. Early-onset of CAN can be hard to detect, but it is as common as peripheral neuropathy.
While physical activity is the best strategy for helping to manage diabetes, protect nerves and keep the heart healthy, I have some suggestions to support a safe and effective return to physical activity for clients with diabetes and neuropathy.
1. Repeat Clinical Neuropathy Assessment for clients with diabetes to identify any changes in symptoms.
2. Refresh foot inspection routine to ensure clients are performing this regularly at home.
3. Check clients' shoes to make sure they are good condition
4. Remind clients to ease back into physical activity, including walking and yard work.
5. Recommend blood sugar control or neuropathy support as needed.