Diabetic neuropathy refers to the nerve damage that occurs in patients with diabetes due to the persistently high blood sugar levels. It usually affects the nerves in the legs and feet.
The common symptoms of this condition include pain and numbness in the legs with the sensation of pins and needles pricking the soles. In some patients, the symptoms are mild while in some, it can be highly painful and disabling.
If not managed properly, diabetic neuropathy may lead to complications like ulcers in the soles and increased risk of recurrent fungal infections and non-healing wounds. Hence, there is a need to take good care of your feet in order to ease the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
Here are the top 20 treatments that would relieve the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy and reduce the risk of complications.
Best supplements for the management of diabetic neuropathy
1. B vitamins
Vitamin B deficiency is the most common cause of diabetic neuropathy. B vitamins containing vitamin B1, B6, and B12 would ensure your body receives an adequate amount of these nutrients and support healthy nerve functions.
Research studies have also revealed that vitamin B supplementation can promote nerve repair, speed up the regeneration of nerve tissues, and improve nerve functions.
It may also help to reduce pain, control inflammation, and thus, prevent cellular damage linked to diabetic neuropathy.
2. Alpha-lipoic acid
Alpha-lipoic acid, popularly called ALA, would provide relief from the symptoms of nerve damage by producing a natural antioxidant effect.
It has been found to be effective for reducing the uncomfortable symptoms of neuropathy in the legs and hands including pain, numbness, itching, tingling, burning, and prickling.
Research studies have shown that Alpha-lipoic acid supplements can protect the nerves as well as other vital organs and tissues against oxidative damage thereby reducing the risk of diabetic neuropathy.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is one of the essential amino acids that the body needs to support the nerve functions. It also acts as an antioxidant and increases energy levels thereby reducing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
It is also revered for its ability to create new nerve cells, thus supporting the regeneration of nerves damaged due to high blood sugar levels.
According to research studies, acetyl-L-carnitine supplements can also help to reduce the symptoms of chemotherapy-induced neuropathy.
4. N-Acetyl cysteine
N-Acetyl cysteine supplements are recommended for patients who suffer from severe pain and loss of motor functions due to diabetic neuropathy. N-Acetyl cysteine is a form of amino acid that possesses powerful antioxidant properties.
It would reduce neuropathic pain and control inflammation thereby protecting the nerves against further damage.
Results of a research study have also suggested that regular use of N-Acetyl cysteine supplements could improve musculoskeletal coordination by restoring healthy nerve functions.
This can help to reduce the risk of falls and injuries commonly associated due to the loss of motor functions.
Curcumin is one of the most effective medicinal compounds in turmeric. It is revered for its anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant properties.
It may relieve tingling and numbness in the hands and feet and prevent damage to the nerves.
Research studies have shown that the use of curcumin supplements may also minimize inflammation and the resulting functional loss in patients with diabetes.
6. Fish oil
Fish oil supplements contain a rich amount of omega-3 fatty acids that can produce an anti-inflammatory effect and prevent nerve damage in patients with diabetes.
The potential benefits of fish oil supplements include relief from pain, numbness, tingling,and pricking sensation.
Fish oil may also slow down the progression of diabetic neuropathy and reverse the damage to the nerves by supporting the healing and repair processes of the body.
It would also work as a neuroprotective agent and stimulate the growth of new neurons. This effect of fish oil supplements would restore sensory and motor functions of the nerves to a great extent.
Calcium supplements can strengthen the nerves and reduce damage caused due to diabetic neuropathy.
It would also improve bone mineral density and increase muscle mass thus enhancing your musculoskeletal coordination.
Regular use of calcium supplements would help to reduce the risk of falls and protect you against the dangerous consequences of diabetic neuropathy linked to the loss of motor and sensory functions.
Research studies have revealed that the deficiency of magnesium may worsen the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
Regular use of magnesium supplements, on the other hand, would provide relief from the symptoms of this condition by correcting underlying causes such as uncontrolled diabetes.
Research studies aimed at assessing the benefits of Glutamine have revealed that the use of this amino acid could be beneficial for correcting neurological dysfunctions.
Glutamine may provide relief from the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. It would also relieve the side effects of chemotherapy linked to neurological dysfunctions.
Regular use of glutamine is recommended for the prevention of diabetic neuropathy and reducing pain, numbness, tingling, and pins and needle sensation caused due to this condition.
Glutathione acts as an antioxidant and protects the nerves against damage due to free radicals, toxins, and high blood sugar levels.
Preliminary research studies have suggested that glutathione would inhibit the progress of diabetic neuropathy by improving nerve functions and protecting the body against the side effects of diabetic medications.
Conventional medications for the management of diabetic neuropathy
NSAIDs or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like acetaminophen, aspirin, and ibuprofen are commonly prescribed to patients diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy. These medications work by reducing inflammation and help to relieve pain.
Patients may also use pain relievers like Capsaicin and anaesthetic agents like Lidocaine if the symptoms are severe.
Capsaicin is a natural compound present in bell peppers. It is believed to work by controlling the secretion of chemicals called prostaglandins that play a vital role in sending pain signals through the nerves.
However, Capsaicin would only reduce the neuralgic pain temporarily by preventing the nerves from carrying the pain impulses.
Antidepressants that are commonly used in the management of depression can be effective for relieving the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
Tricyclic antidepressants can help to relieve pain by regulating the balance of hormones in the nervous system.
Other types of antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) can also help to reduce pain by modifying the secretion of a chemical called serotonin in the brain.
13. Opioid pain medications
Opioid medicines like oxycontin and tramadol are recommended for patients who suffer from severe pain and discomfort due to diabetic neuropathy.
These drugs can provide immediate relief from the symptoms though they may not help to correct the underlying abnormalities.
14. Anti-Seizure Drugs
Antiseizure drugs like Pregabalin and Gabapentin that are used to inhibit epileptic seizures may be prescribed to relieve the symptoms of neuropathy.
These drugs can control the activities of the nerve cells in the hands and legs and thus, reduce the transmission of pain.
15. Capsaicin Cream
Capsaicin cream is one of the most effective topical medications recommended for patients with diabetic neuropathy. You can apply this cream on the affected part of the skin to derive relief from pain.
Capsaicin, a medicinal compound in bell peppers, is believed to work by masking the pain sensation though temporarily.
Most of these drugs only provide short-term relief from the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. This means the use of these medications may not help to correctthe underlying abnormality. Also, these medications are known to cause serious side effects.
Hence, it is advisable to use natural health supplements and diabetic foot care accessories in order to derive long-term relief.
Best Diabetic Foot Care Accessories
Diabetic neuropathy can affect the sensory functions of the nerves and reduce the sensations in the soles of your feet.
As a result, you would not even realize if a needle pricks your soles or if you have an ulcer, infection, or wound in your feet.
Hence, it is advisable to use diabetic foot care accessories that will keep your feet and soles protected. The use of these accessories is aimed at preventing the complications of diabetic neuropathy like athlete foot and non-healing ulcers.
16. Socks and Stockings
Compression stockings are perfect for patients with diabetic neuropathy. These stockings apply gentle pressure to the legs thus improving the blood circulation through this part.
Over time, this would help to reduce swelling in the legs and relieve leg pain caused due to neuropathy, ulcers, or wounds.
There is evidence that supports the use of padded socks and compression stockings.
Research studies have shown that the use of padded socks would also reduce plantar pressure and minimize nerve damage.
This is expected to slow down the progress of diabetic neurology to a great extent.
17. Shoes for diabetic neuropathy
Patients suffering from diabetes should refrain from walking barefoot. They should wear shoes or socks at all times to protect the soles of the feet.
You can choose special shoes designed to ease the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. These shoes work by reducing pressure on the soles and protect them against damage with their added padding.
Regular use of diabetic shoes, both outdoors and indoors, may also reduce the chances of developing pressure-related ulcers on the soles.
18. Moisturizer for diabetic foot care
Nerve damage caused due to diabetic neuropathy can result in excessive dryness of the parts. Over a period of time, as the dryness of the skin becomes worse, patients may develop itching that can lead to ulcers and abrasions.
These skin lesions may get infected or take a longer time to heal due to their weak immunity. Hence, patients are advised to apply moisturizers to prevent dryness of the soles and feet.
Regular use of moisturizers would reduce dryness of the skin and keep the parts well-hydrated thereby preventing abrasions, infections, and ulcerations caused due to itching.
Exercises for the prevention and management of diabetic neuropathy
Aquatic exercises like swimming can help to prevent diabetes as well as its complications including diabetic neuropathy.
Swimming for about 30 to 40 minutes a day is recommended as an effective approach to improve glycemic control. It would regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates thereby reducing blood sugar levels.
This is a long-term strategy that also helps to reduce weight and improve insulin secretion thus protecting you against the development of diabetic neuropathy.
Research studies aimed at evaluating the health benefits of yoga have revealed that this ancient practice of holistic medicine has the potential to slow down the development of diabetic neuropathy.
It would augment the blood flow and oxygenation to the foot and other parts of the body, improve neuronal activities in the vital tissues, and thus, reduce the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
It may also control inflammation and oxidative stress responsible for worsening the symptoms of this condition.
Yoga is also beneficial for creating self-awareness. It would help you be more aware or conscious of your dietary and lifestyle habits allowing you to incorporate healthy habits into your routine.
This will go a long way to improve your general health and prevent the risk of diabetes as well as its complications.
It is possible to prevent or slow down the progress of diabetic neuropathy by using these supplements and accessories. Regular exercising can also help to control your blood sugar levels and prevent the complications of diabetes including neuropathy, nephropathy, and cataract.