Overcoming Diabetic Neuropathy
If you have had diabetes for several years, or even if you are pre-diabetic, the latest research has revealed that you are three times more likely to develop Diabetic Nerve pain, also known as peripheral neuropathy. As a matter of fact, 70 percent of diabetics will develop diabetic nerve pain aka: peripheral neuropathy).
Diabetic nerve damage occurs as a result of your nerves being exposed to chronically elevated levels of blood sugar. Excess glucose circulating in the blood stream is extremely damaging to peripheral nerves. Elevated glucose levels also lead to increased inflammation and decreased circulation. All of this will increase the severity of your symptoms.
Symptoms of diabetic nerve pain you may experience may be numbness, tingling, and burning in the feet (sometimes even the hands). These symptoms usually start off very mild, but with time they will worsen, and additional symptoms can develop, as well. You may begin to lose your balance, resulting in falls. You may also experience sharp, shooting pain or chronic dull, achy pain in the legs or arms. Many people will also experience muscle cramping. Commonly, symptoms will be much worse at night, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
Most doctors treat the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy by prescribing medications to help deal with the pain. Commonly prescribed medications are Lyrica, Cymbalta (duloxetine), Neurontin (gabapentin), and even Ultram (tramadol), but, these remedies are only 40% to 60 percent successful in reducing the pain and symptoms.
The important fact to know is that these medications do not reverse the damage to the peripheral nerves. In fact, most doctors will tell you that Peripheral Neuropathy is permanent and “You Just Have to Learn to Live with it”. Fortunately, this is not true. Peripheral nerves can be repaired. This has been proven by highly respected and well accredited institutions like Harvard Medical School, and Massachusetts General Hospital -to name just a few.
So, what can you do to aid in the repair of your peripheral nerves? First and foremost, optimal control of blood glucose levels is number one. The better handle you get on maintaining healthy glucose levels, the less damage that will occur. The best ways to control your glucose other than medication is by managing your diet. You may be taking the best-known medications for glucose management but if your diet is laden with starches, processed foods and junk foods, the medications will still struggle to maintain appropriate glucose levels. By the way, the levels you should be striving for is between 80 mg/dL – 115 mg/dL (fasting) or 135mg/dL 2 hours after a meal (post prandial). This can be achieved.
The second thing you want to do to increase your insulin sensitivity is supplement with Alpha Lipoic Acid. There is a tremendous amount of research showing that Alpha Lipoic Acid decreases your Hemoglobin A1C (HbA1c) and decreases your glucose levels. Research has shown that taking 300mg twicer per day is very effective.
Another extremely effective tool at repairing damaged peripheral nerves is the use of Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT). This form of treatment has been researched by Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. Many other scientists have also researched the validity and efficacy of this treatment and found it to be reliably successful.
How Does Laser Treatment for Neuropathy Work?
This new technology, Low Level Infrared Laser therapy for neuropathy was introduced to the U.S. in 2002. The reality is that this technology has been around for over 40 years. It has been successfully used in Europe, Asia, Australia and Russia since the 1960s. There have been over 2,000 published research reports and over 100 double blind studies confirming the effectiveness of Low Level Laser Therapy for repairing damaged peripheral nerves.
The research studies have proven that LLLT treatment can play a significant role in diminishing symptoms, while repair to the nerve occurs. Here’s, what studies have revealed about Low Level Laser Treatments:
- Reduces Pain by stimulating cells to produce endorphins – a natural painkiller
- Reduces Inflammation by as much as 75%
- Decreases Swelling by stimulating lymphatic drainage
- Increases Blood Flow/Circulation by stimulating the formation of new capillaries in damaged tissue. This promotes better oxygen deliver, which is responsible for speeding up the healing process, closing wounds and reducing scar tissue
- Promotes Faster Healing by stimulating cells to increase the production fo two major healing enzymes and improving oxygenation to the tissue by as much as 75%. The LLLT also increases healing by stimulating the mitochondria of the cells, allowing for 40% more energy for the repair process.
- Re-vitalizes Cell Membranes to allow the transport of essential nutrients across cell walls, thus allowing a healthy new cell to grow. Nutrients can not cross an injured or sick cell wall, which slows the healing.
- Stimulates Re-growth and Repair of Neural (nerve) Tissue
There are many different types of lasers on the market but, according to the research, not all will be effective in the repair and regeneration of peripheral nerves. Here’s what you need to know about the LLLT you may be using.
LLLT come in a wide variety of wavelengths of the infrared light. These wavelengths can range from 300 nm to 1400nm. In order to elicit healing of the neural (nerve) tissue the range of LLLT must be between 800nm – 100nm. This range will allow for deep penetration into tissues. This is of extreme importance because nerve tissues lie deep within the body.
Laser therapy has shown great promise in several other countries and now the U.S. is just beginning to scratch the surface of this treatment.
Painful diabetic neuropathy is a frequent problem when you have diabetes. Symptoms such as tingling, burning, and numbness might affect your sleep and quality of life. Current treatments, usually medications, don’t heal, and only partly alleviate your pain. Laser therapy shows promise in reducing your pain.
This blog has been provided by Dr. John Coppola, D.C. and Dr. Valerie Monteiro, D.C. Dr. Coppola and Dr. Monteiro are the founders of the San Antonio Neuropathy Center, and Precision Sport & Spine. They are the leading experts in the field of neuropathy and specifically drug free nerve repair. They are the authors of the critically acclaimed book "Defeat Neuropathy Now .... In Spite of Your Doctor. The doctors have over 25 years of clinical experience.
If you would like to reach the doctors regarding a specific health problem, you may email them at [email protected].
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