Diabetic Neuropathy
  Tingling, Nerve Pain and Amputation

Diabetic neuropathy could be the reason your feet are sensitive and your fingers tingle. This complication of type 2 diabetes explains your pain, loss of balance and even intestinal problems.

Nerve pain is the most common complaint among diabetics. Because it starts small, we often  ignore it until it has done major damage to our bodies.

Fingertips that tingle and feet that do not like to be touched are only the beginning. Neuropathies grow slowly, making it easy to put them out of your mind.

But you need to pay attention. Those symptoms are warning signs that diabetic neuropathy is getting worse.

Peripheral neuropathy starts with numbness in your toes and fingertips. You might drop things more often.

It gets harder to handle small things. If you cannot thread a needle or feel the needle in your fingers, you have peripheral neuropathy.

Numb Fingers

Doing medical transcription meant using a keyboard for many hours a day. I knew about carpal tunnel syndrome, so I used an ergonomic keyboard and did the exercises that were supposed to help.

Foods that fight chronic pain.

But my hands would still go numb at night. Then I began to notice this while typing.

Help for the diabetic neuropathy in my hands came from wearing simple open-fingered gloves from a Walmart pharmacy. They are sold next to the wrist and knee wraps.

I have a pair on today. Sometimes I wear them to bed because they keep my hands from going numb while I sleep.  The gloves fit loosely, which is a good thing.

Remember that diabetics should not wear anything that binds or cuts off circulation. Do not wear a tight wrist band at any time.

You must keep the blood flowing so your type 2 diabetic nerves are not damaged more.

Diabetic Feet

Protecting your feet is priority one because diabetic neuropathy puts them at risk.

Shoes that are too tight have to go. You need diabetic shoes with plenty of toe room, since sore spots and blisters are now your enemy.

You also need a podiatrist. I learned this the hard way. A sore spot appeared on the ball of my foot. I thought it was a plantar wart, but wart medication did not make it better.

So I did what I should have done first and went to my podiatrist. He said, "That's not a wart. You have something in your foot."

He removed the splinter, gave me a lecture and some antibiotics, and told me not to walk barefoot again. I never diagnose my own feet anymore.

We also need diabetic socks. They are not hard to find, and they are a comfort to burning, tingling feet. Here is more information on diabetic socks.

Since we have the same condition as millions of other people, the things we need are available at local stores now, not just specialty catalogs.

Neuropathy Can Improve

The sensitivity in your feet and legs is diabetic neuropathy. Some diabetics cannot even stand the weight of covers on their feet.

If you are one of them, there is a special tent you can buy that fits over the foot of the bed. It holds sheets and blankets away from your feet so you can sleep.

It is odd that some parts of us are numb while others get extra sensitive. Either way, this complication of diabetes may not be permanent. It can improve. 

The best treatment for diabetic neuropathy is to get your blood sugar into a good range. Keep it under the recommended hemoglobin A1C level of 7.

Paresthesias in my feet and hands have responded to blood sugar control.

Using insulin has helped because of frequent blood sugar readings and fast-acting insulin. But I believe weight loss and exercise have helped the most.

The pain in my feet and over sensitive legs has gotten better too. Doctors tell you that diabetic neuropathy can be slowed and even reversed. But you need to begin without delay.

Neuropathy, Do not Ignore It

Do not wait until you have lost something you cannot get back.

Lower blood sugar, exercise and antioxidants are the keys to improving all the types of diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetes doctors take peripheral neuropathy seriously because of its connection to amputation.

The number one cause of surgical amputation is diabetes, and surgeons say that half of those amputations could have been avoided.

Doctors tell us to watch for and prevent foot sores and blisters. Then sores will not continue into the bone, forcing them to amputate.

Four Ways to Improve and Prevent Neuropathy

Number one, keep checking your blood sugar. A hemoglobin A1C under 7 is best, and daily numbers under 150 meet that goal.

Second is exercise.  It strengthens your muscles and stimulates your nerves, which keeps them healthy too.

Walking, swimming, biking, dancing and jogging involve the large muscles of your legs, improving blood flow.

The oxygen in your blood feeds your nerves. Exercise also keeps down swelling in your legs and feet that constricts the flow of blood.

Number three is antioxidants. There is proof that foods like grapes, tea and even chocolate improve nerve health and fight the complications of diabetes in your body.

You will find thousands of ads for flavanoids and other antioxidants in supplement form. Most of them cost a lot.

But the best way to get antioxidants is to eat the foods that contain them. It is much cheaper and tastes better.

Number four, peripheral neuropathy responds to massage with lotions and oils.

Lotions with capsaicin (a natural extract from cayenne peppers) improve sensitivity in feet and legs.

Doctors tell their arthritic patients about capsaicin because it relieves pain and stimulates blood flow. Find it over the counter in the pharmacy aisle near the athletes' foot creams.

You might need latex gloves because capsaicin can irritate the skin in between your fingers and around your cuticles. Or simply wash your hands well afterward.

Fight Neuropathy

How exercise beats Alzheimer's in diabetics.

As you age with diabetes you will face diabetic neuropathy. You may avoid the complications if you do the things listed above, but they may show up anyway.

Know these types of neuropathy so you will not be frightened when they appear.

Autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves that control your heart, blood vessels and digestive system.

Proximal neuropathy is nerve damage that leads to muscle wasting.

Focal neuropathy is sudden pain that strikes like lightning and can mimic a heart attack.

Return to diabetic complications from diabetic neuropathy.

Retinopathy leads to type 2 diabetic blindness. Keep it from happening to you.

You can avoid diabetic nephropathy and renal dialysis.