10 Ways to Help Nerve Pain in Diabetic Feet – DIABETIC SOCK CLUB

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10 Ways to Help Nerve Pain in Diabetic Feet

Neuropathy is a worldwide debated topic and its effective management is much more than that. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most painful conditions one can suffer from. In this article, we have discussed the 10 best ways you can help reduce (And even eliminate) your nerve pain if you are suffering from diabetic neuropathy. From concoctions to essential oil therapies, important dietary changes, we have revealed A-to-Z of how to effectively manage various symptoms of diabetic pain in the feet. While some of these are established ways, others are still under review and research and have a little scientific basis. Hence, medications remain the primary way of neuropathic treatment and the ways mentioned below are only complementary options you can consider to reduce the pain. 

10 Best Ways To Help Nerve Pain in Diabetic Feet

Exercise and yoga

A few investigations have now shown that yoga is an incredible choice to help battle diabetes. To decrease high glucose levels and help control blood glucose. Furthermore, yoga helps control pressure, which likewise diminishes high glucose levels. Breathing activities and reflection is a simple and practical approach to help battle diabetes. 

Additionally, yoga diminishes the danger of creating cardiovascular illness, which may then lessen insulin opposition disorder. Insulin obstruction condition implies that your body doesn't react to the insulin it makes normally, causing a multifold rise in the degree of sugar in the blood. This can prompt type 2 diabetes. The thought is to help manage pressure chemicals, as this will assist with both pulse and blood glucose levels. Yoga also has immense potential in slowing or reducing paralysis of muscles and other parts.

Aerobic, light stretching, and balance are the three choices of exercise to combat neuropathy pain. However, warming up before getting into an exercise session is important as it will reduce the chances of injuries. Simple dynamic stretching can even be immensely helpful in fighting neuropathic pain. It boosts energy, activates nerves, improves flexibility, and also muscle coordination. Aerobic exercise triggers the production of natural or endogenous endorphins that are the natural painkillers of the body. If you are just starting, you can try it for 10 minutes and then work your way up.  

Brisk walking, swimming, and cycling at least for 30 mins 3 times a week is recommended, although 7 days a week is best if you are already diabetic. These are not only good for neuropathic pain, but also in preventing various other organ dysfunction in the long run. Swimming and cycling are great cardio too. Stretching like hamstring stretches and calf stretches can be helpful in diabetic neuropathic conditions to alleviate the pain.

Some doctors also prescribe balance training that is known to relieve joints and muscle stiffness. Such exercises improve nerve function and improve balance that helps prevent falls resulting in loss of nerve sensation. Side leg raise and calf raises using a chair or other supports as a prop can be a good starting point. 

Not only this, exercise aids in retrieving nerve function in individuals who cannot feel the sensation. Talking about exercising when you are diabetic, then follow some rules. If you are jogging or running, wear good quality running shoes. Some of the daily activities may not be good for you. Seek advice from a trained professional before starting any new exercise.

Topical pain massage creams

Generally, for the management of neuropathic pain, doctors prescribe pain-relievers like non-addictive analgesics or opioids. However, drugs from both these classes come with different side effects with opioids being the worst - causing withdrawal symptoms and addiction. In this light, topical analgesics that bring about temporary numbness in the neuropathic area relieving pain have become widely popular today. There are two reasons for this popularity. One, topical analgesics are easy to apply and do not cause any serious side effects on the body, unlike opioids and NSAIDs. Second, some topical analgesics or pain management creams that are available today in the market have the added benefit of aiding in the reversal of nerve damage. Though fully damaged nerves cannot be completely reversed back to their normal stage, some Advanced Neuropathy Creams like the DSC Advanced Cream are known to help reverse the damage to some extent. 

Apart from such Advanced Neuropathy Pain Cream, there are also a wide variety of common analgesics available in the market in the form of creams and oils to be applied to the pain area. For example, lidocaine is the most widely used analgesic cream which is known for its local anesthetic effect causing numbness in the pain area within a few hours of application. Lidocaine is also available in the form of patches which is the most prescribed pain management option. A typical lidocaine patch lasts for around 24 hours and a few hours of the gap needs to be considered before applying the second patch. These patches are formulated to deliver the drug over a sustained time hence giving relief from the pain throughout long hours of use. 

Other topical pain-relieving creams like capsaicin that cause burning feeling over the pain area are also popularly used that give relief from neuropathic pain, especially over the feet. However, there are some precautions to be taken before using any such topical pain-relieving ointments. You must ensure to give a few hours (if possible, a day) of rest to your body and refrain from using these medications. This will only be better in the long run since a few gap hours can prevent your body cells from becoming under sensitive to the drug. This will raise the body’s limit of pain and you will need heavier doses of the same drug later on. Moreover, you must not ensure not to apply the creams over burnt, itching, injured, or abnormal skin areas. Lastly, before using any product, be it natural, ayurvedic, or allopathic, ensure to perform a patch test.  

Essential Oil therapy

Essential Oil therapy is a complementary treatment used with the main medication combination. Although it does show some effects in the management of neuropathy pain as patients indicate, it should not be used as the main medication leaving behind all other medicines or treatments. Essential oil therapy for neuropathy is just a complementary option since there are much less scientific data or research studies to strongly claim it works. Research, the only handful of which are available, shows that essential oils are a great option to relieve symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. According to a 2017 study, a group of people receiving both medical treatment and essential oil massages several times a week for 4 weeks showed less neuropathic pain than those who only received medical treatment but no essential oil therapy. 

Some research suggests that the relief of pain from essential oil massages in neuropathic symptoms but could be because of the massages and not the oils. This is the reason science or rather medical science doesn’t recommend such therapies to be the primary basis of neuropathy management. Whatever it is, essential oil massages are widely popular globally in all kinds of neuropathic patients. 

The most common essential oils that are used to relieve neuropathic pain, especially in diabetic neuropathy are lavender, geranium, rosemary, blue chamomile, lemongrass, cinnamon, ginger, lemon eucalyptus, bergamot, tea tree, and so on. Most patients use a combination of different essential oils in a prescribed dilution. You can surely depend on essential oil massages 2-3 times a week as a complementary system however the duration for which the pain-relieving experience lasts depends on various factors. It may depend upon the stage of nerve damage, your age, other medical conditions, the massage duration, the choice of essential oil(s), and the quality of the essential oil. 

However, there are some studies that suggest that certain essential oils do have both anti-inflammatory properties and analgesic properties that aid in relieving pain. Studies also show these oils help in repairing nerve damage however the mechanism of action or uniformity of effect on all patients is still unclear. The best essential oils for nerve pain and tingling caused due to neuropathy are said to be lavender, frankincense, peppermint, marjoram, and Roman chamomile.

Control of blood glucose

High sugar levels in the blood can give rise to many diseases. One serious effect of this is nerve damage. Diabetic neuropathy mainly strikes the nerves of your feet and legs. But it can also affect the hands and arms. You may feel pain and numbness. Sometimes, a tingling in your feet and toes can also be a sign of this condition. It can affect your digestive system, blood vessels, urinary tract as well as your heart. Therefore, it becomes necessary to guard against it in time.

To avoid nerve damage, it is necessary to keep blood sugar levels under control. If it is ignored for too long, it can cause disability. In very severe cases, it may also cause amputation of the limbs. The most dangerous thing is that you may not even know that you are experiencing nerve damage until it is too late. This is because the symptoms can sometimes be misleading.  Let us know how blood sugar control can help prevent such types of nerve damage caused by diabetes.

Controlling blood glucose levels is the best way to prevent diabetic neuropathy. Make sure that your blood glucose levels are within a normal range. If it fluctuates, talk to your doctor. He can change your medicine. You need to check your blood glucose levels regularly throughout the whole day to know how much insulin you ought to be taking. In any event, you should check your blood glucose level four times each day: generally before every meal (3 times) and before sleep time (1 time). However, since this is not feasible, regular blood tests every few months may be done. Watching your blood glucose level assists you with knowing whether you need to rearrange insulin or your dinners to keep your level in a sound reach. Also, be sure to go for the A1C test every six months.

You can follow these home remedies to control your blood glucose level. Completely change your diet if your doctor thinks it is your diet that is shooting up blood sugar levels. Switch white rice, pasta, white bread with whole grains, fruits, vegetables, salads, high-protein, lean meat, pulses, legumes, high-fiber like quinoa, barley, etc. Diet change and exercise is the best way of lowering blood sugar levels. Reduce intake of carbohydrates to only sufficient amounts and eliminate sugars from your plate. Try portion control techniques if it is suitable in your case. However, always consult an experienced and registered dietician or doctor before commencing these changes in your daily life. 

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a method to treat pain and relieve discomfort. The needles used in acupuncture are inserted into pressure points on the body to stimulate the nervous system. This releases endorphins (the body's natural pain-relieving hormones) into the muscles, spine, and brain. Change how your body responds to pain. Most people with neuropathy turn to acupuncture to relieve chronic pain. Acupuncture also stimulates blood flow to repair nerve damage. Although research is still ongoing to test the effectiveness of acupuncture. A pilot study on reliable neuropathy conducted acupuncture treatment in 2007, which confirmed that acupuncture as an alternative therapy, compared with patients receiving traditional care, more neuropathic patients improved their symptoms.


Acupuncture is nothing but a way of activating or triggering the body’s natural healing mechanisms. Due to this natural mechanism, acupuncture is known to be having fewer or no side effects. However, certain things need to be considered before starting with this therapy like the use of clean needles and consulting an experienced and reliable acupuncture practitioner.


If you are seeking alternative or any replaceable treatment for neuropathic pain, other than traditional treatments, acupuncture can help. Make sure you work with licensed and authorized acupuncture practitioners. Before starting acupuncture, consult your doctor. Please consult your doctor about the cause of your neuropathy. Without proper medical diagnosis and professional treatment recommendations, acupuncture can worsen pain symptoms or cause harm.


Regular foot care

The health of your feet plays an important role in neuropathy - not only to alleviate but also to reverse the nerve damage to some extent. It is very important to take care of your feet as soon as you are categorized as diabetic or diabetes-prone. On the other hand, if the nerve damage has already occurred, then you need to be alert for any further injuries. This is because you may not feel pain because of numbness caused due to neuropathy, but your injury may further nerve damage and other complications. Here are some tips that can help you care for your feet, especially for diabetic neuropathy:

  1. Cut your nails regularly and pat your feet - cutting your nails regularly will keep away dust, infectious agents, etc that will reduce chances of infection. Not only this, patting your feet and keeping them clean will reduce cracks in your feet, which is a classic sign of diabetes.
  2. Use lotion and apply it between your toes as well - keeping your toes clean and applying lotion from tie to time will prevent cracks from developing. Cracks, if left untreated or ignored, can lead to nerve damage in the skin. Cracks can also cause deep injuries that bleed or pain. Hence, it is important to keep your feet moisturized from time to time. 
  3. Wash your feet gently with soap and warm water daily - Clean your feet with warm water, soap, and hydrogen peroxide (OTC) if possible. This will remove all dirt, germs, and dead skin layers. Exfoliation of the feet is important to keep it sufficiently clean and healthy however going too harsh over the skin will only cause more harm than good. Hence, ensure you handle the feet carefully and gently exfoliate taking ample time. Do not hurry or rub harshly which can worsen your nerve damage (if already present), or initiate nerve damage.
  4. Dry them properly before applying lotion or wearing shoes - After cleaning your feet, do not put on shoes or socks immediately. Make sure they are adequately dry, apply lotion, and wait till it is absorbed fully. Make sure there is no moisture or wetness on your feet before wearing shoes or socks. Otherwise, germs can grow inside the socks and shoes causing a foul smell. Not only this, but germs can also add to the nerve damage and worsen the condition.
  5. Talk to your doctor if you need to wear any special shoes for diabetic neuropathy - today, you get a lot of different kinds of medicated shoes that claim to help in neuropathic pain and prevent nerve damage. It is important to always consult your doctor before you start wearing any of these shoes. Since there are a lot of companies selling or manufacturing these, most of the time, there is very little reliability on their positive effect due to lack of close quality control. It may even worsen the nerve damage if the design is faulty or the fabric is not suited for the feet or walking. Thus, before choosing any neuropathic shoe, always consult your doctor and receive recommendations if possible.
  6. Even if it is not necessary, always wear comfortable shoes - Even when you are walking inside your house or doing regular chores and think slippers or shoes are not important, they are very essential for neuropathic and diabetic individuals. Always wear comfortable footwear whether you are inside or outside your house. Avoid high heels or heels altogether if you are diagnosed with diabetes and/or neuropathy. Heels are very dangerous for nerve endings in the case of neuropathic individuals and have serious potential to harm the delicate nerves on your feet. 
  7. Avoid walking barefoot - Avoid walking barefoot even while inside the house or on a carpet. Neuropathic feet draw serious attention to prevent any further injuries caused by a small prick or germs entering through your skin. Even a small prick or glass piece stuck to the superficial layer of skin can cause immense damage to the nerve endings on the skin.
  8. Ensure you are walking over even or safe ground so as to prevent any injury to the feet.
  9. Massage your feet gently with essential oils, therapy salts, or warm water often in a week - Massaging relaxes the feet nerves, enhances blood circulation, loosens any tight passage in the path of the nerve, and has the potential to slow or reverse nerve damage.   

Quit Smoking & Drinking

Another home remedy for pain relief is to limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol can exacerbate nerve damage, sometimes the cause of neuropathy. It is also believed that it can relieve neuropathic pain. Reportedly, drinking alcohol is the second-leading cause of developing neuropathy. So, if you are drinking too much and have diabetes (or not!), it might be enough time for you to reconsider. Quitting alcohol can even reverse nerve damage already caused in neuropathic patients and help lead a pain-free life. Not only this, alcohol can even worsen your nerve pain if you already have neuropathy.


Likewise, smoking can not only worsen nerve pain in already diabetic or neuropathic patients but can also cause neuropathy in fully healthy individuals. Although smoking does not cause neuropathy in all individuals, it is still a major factor in the development of nerve pain. You must have heard your doctor telling you repeatedly to quit smoking but they don’t always reveal the ‘why’ but this is a major factor in helping you quit smoking. So, in case you are still struggling, you must know there are several pieces of research and real-life stories (available on Google) that show quitting cigarettes can actually reverse nerve damage fully and help you lead a pain-free life.


Meditation

There are several pieces of evidence where guided meditation, mindfulness practices, and leading a natural life has helped many neuropathic patients reverse their nerve damage and lead a pain-free life. Research also shows meditation to be effective in combating neuropathic pain although only a few mechanisms of its action have been known to date. Researchers believe that meditation releases stress from the body which in turn alleviates pain. People often feel relaxed, calm, and stress-free which activates the body’s endorphins - the hormones reducing pain. It is best to practice meditation under a licensed and experienced practitioner to reap its full potential. 

Maintain proper diet 

Diet is the most important aspect of the management of neuropathic symptoms. While we have already discussed the importance of keeping blood sugar levels under control through diet, other major dietary changes are also important and have shown promising results in patients worldwide. In fact, about 90% of patients report a drastic reduction in pain and other symptoms of neuropathy followed by a change in their diet. If you think you cannot cope up with a massive dietary change, which is the case in most individuals as their body needs to adjust, you can go for a gradual approach. Dietary changes might seem difficult at first but following such a healthy diet will not only prevent blood sugar from shooting up, but it will also prevent weight gain and add significantly to your health. 

Some foods that need to be avoided (completely, if possible) are refined carbs, high calories, and fats. Common fast-foods and snacks like sandwiches or burritos with eggs, bacon, sausage, cheese, etc come on this list. Also, cut off sugars in drinks like tea, coffee, cold drinks, etc. Instead, you can include healthier drinks like smoothies containing wholesome ingredients like nuts, seeds, oats, milk, proteinaceous foods, etc. Coffee or other similar drinks that can keep you awake at night can worsen the pain and should be totally avoided. On the other hand, healing teas like white willow, tea tree, and green tea can be used to replace your normal tea regime. Whatever it is, make sure it is mostly natural with less added preservatives, flavors, and colors. 


You may choose gravy foods that keep you full for long but most of the time, they contain fats, oils, etc. Thus, it is better to replace them with high-protein, high-fiber diets like salads, fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, pulses, etc. Diet is a major aspect of a diabetic patient’s life and proper maintenance can even prevent neuropathy from developing throughout a diabetic patient’s life. 


Not only should you maintain an approved neuropathic diet prescribed by a registered and experienced dietician, but you must also cut down on fast foods, cold cuts, processed meals, ready-to-eat meals, ready-to-cook meals, packaged food items, and even high salt intake. High salt intake impairs proper blood flow and in turn, causes numbness. Insufficient blood flow can even cause nerve damage or worsen the situation since there is no adequate removal of waste products from the area nor nourishment to the nerve cells.


Vegetables that are rich in pigments and contain anti-inflammatory properties like carrots, peppers, tomatoes, kale, spinach, bok choy are very good for such individuals. Pigmented veggies are also a rich source of antioxidants which are very effective in maintaining your body’s overall health as well as immunity. Whatever you take each day, ensure you are getting all the nutrients from your meal including all vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B-12 deficiency, if left untreated can cause permanent nerve damage. Some good natural sources of vitamin B-12 are eggs, fish, meat, low-fat dairy products, etc. Vitamin B group is essential for neuropathy since they help support normal nervous system function and intake in adequate amounts will even reverse nerve damage.


Colored and dark-colored fruits like berries, turmeric, passion fruit, and citrus fruits are very effective in neuropathic pain. Moreover, you can opt for multiple short eating regimes replacing heavy meals which can help alleviate pain, control blood sugar, and also prevent weight gain. Make sure you include seasonal fruits too in your daily diet.

Home remedies

A popular home remedy followed by patients worldwide is apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is rich in minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus, each of which is very essential to maintain a sound nervous system. Also, apple cider vinegar has anti-inflammatory properties which makes it an important asset for neuropathic pain. Ideally, you should be taking 2-3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar regularly with warm water for best results. You can also add some honey to it if you cannot stand its raw taste.


Another popular home remedy is drinking white willow tea. White willow tea is known for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties because of the presence of salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is the same compound from which aspirin is made and it has the analgesic property that helps alleviate pain. This is a healing tea that has shown miraculous effects for many patients. To prepare this tea, you can simmer 2-3 tablespoons of white willow bark extract in boiling water for 10 minutes and drink it after straining. This is a very effective pain-killer and can be replaced with your regular tea.


You can replace your regular tea regimen with these herbal concoctions and tea preparations that have pain-relieving effects. However, cut off ‘caffeine’ completely - tea and coffee both. If any product contains caffeine like regular tea, it should strictly not be consumed by any neuropathic patient.

Conclusion

As mentioned above, each therapy comes with advantages and disadvantages and should be consulted with your doctor beforehand. Nevertheless, all of these procedures show promising results in thousands and lakhs of neuropathic patients. While some help in the permanent management of symptoms, others only provide temporary relief. Among the most effective are yoga and exercise coupled with serious dietary changes that control your blood sugar level. Diet is the most important parameter to check neuropathic pain and should not be neglected. If you cannot introduce a huge change in your diet overnight, try going for a simple and eventual approach. But, in 90% of patients, dietary changes bring about the most relief from neuropathic pain. These are the long-term management procedures while essential oil therapy, warm water bath, concoctions, etc provide temporary relief from the pain. 

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