Damage to the nerves in your feet, legs, hands and arms is commonly referred to as peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy is the medical term that describes nerve damage and the painful symptoms that come with it. These painful symptoms might include tingling, numbness, burning, aching or shooting pain.
Peripheral neuropathy is considered a progressive condition, meaning that it gradually gets worse over time unless the cause of the nerve damage is addressed. Here are 7 ways to manage peripheral neuropathy to help optimize your heath.
1. Blood Sugar Control
Even if you do not have prediabetes or diabetes it is important to think about your blood sugar. High blood sugar is the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy. At least 20% of individuals with prediabetes and 50% of individuals with diabetes have symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. High blood sugar damages nerves and the small blood vessels that supply nerves with essential nutrients and oxygen.
To help control your blood sugar, avoid foods that are highly processed, contain added sugar, sugar sweetened beverages (i.e. soda) and fried foods. Instead, focus on colourful fruits, vegetables, healthy fats (i.e. avocado, unsalted nuts) and lean proteins.
2. Protect your Feet
Many people take their feet for granted until they cause pain and limit mobility. Make sure that your shoes fit properly and consider using compression socks to improve blood flow. Also, make sure that you do not go barefoot. Peripheral neuropathy can cause loss of sensation in the foot and this increases the risk of foot injuries that can go undetected. Such injuries can lead to serious infection and potentially amputation.
3. Daily Activity
Being physically active every day helps to manage peripheral neuropathy three different ways. First, physical activity helps to control blood sugar to reduce the risk of nerve damage. Second, physical activity helps to increase blood flow to all peripheral nerves. This is important for delivering important nutrients to nerves. Third, physical activity teaches nerves to interact with muscles and other nerves. This can promote nerve growth and new nerve connections.
4. Frontline Nutrition Therapy
While nutrition is important for overall health and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels but for many people with peripheral neuropathy additional support is needed. Frontline Diabetes Supplement is the most comprehensive nutrition therapy for supporting nerve health and also addressing painful symptoms naturally. Frontline was developed by Dr. Evan Lewis, an international leader in nutrition and nerve health, based on his clinical research program.
5. Evaluate your Sleep
Sleep is one of the most effective ways to manage peripheral neuropathy, however, most North Americans are not getting enough sleep. Ideally, we should all be getting 7.5 hours of sleep per night. This is important to make sure the body is able to recover and adapt. It has also been shown that people who do not get enough sleep have lower insulin sensitivity and have cravings for more sugary foods. Both of these factors can make peripheral neuropathy much worse.
Working with a physiotherapist can help to address the painful symptoms of peripheral neuropathy and also improve mobility. This might include strengthening muscle groups that are affected by neuropathy or working to improve balance in the case of an individual with numbness or loss of sensation in the feet.
7. Review your Medication
Individuals with peripheral neuropathy should have their medications regularly reviewed by their MD and pharmacist. This review is important to make sure the dosing is correct, the medication is still necessary and there are no dangerous drug interactions. It is important to be aware that some medications such as Metformin, have been found to cause neuropathy symptoms by creating vitamin deficiencies. If you are living with peripheral neuropathy, it is possible that your medications could be the cause or contributing to this health condition.