Tips for Reducing Diabetic Nerve Pain
Diabetic nerve pain can be incredibly painful. Most people experience it as numbness and tingling, though others report burning and aching pains as well. Diabetic nerve pain is most common in the hands and feet, but over time, it can affect different parts of the body. The pain can be so severe, it negatively impacts your sleep, mood and overall quality of life.
Fortunately, there are medications that can reduce diabetic nerve pain, also called peripheral neuropathy. However, these medications are only about 30-50 percent effective, so they must be coupled with lifestyle changes and at-home remedies for the best results.
Below are some tips for reducing diabetic nerve pain and preventing the condition from getting worse.
Control blood sugar levels
If you don’t manage your diabetes, your blood sugar levels will get out of control. Excess blood sugar can damage your nerves and set you up for long-term nerve damage. So, regardless of whether you have pre-diabetes or diabetes, start making healthy changes to control your blood sugar. These include:
- Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products and whole grains
- Avoid red meat and processed sugars
- Exercise most days of the week for at least 20-30 minutes
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Manage your stress levels
- Take your medications
Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
When diabetic nerve pain sets in, you might try an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol or Advil. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you plan on using these medications regularly or if you are taking any other medications. They are not without risk and can lead to stomach problems, kidney damage and an increased risk for heart attack or stroke.
Soak in the tub
Taking a warm bath is a wonderful way to ease pain and promote circulation throughout the body. For added relaxation, consider adding essential oils or Epsom salts to your bathwater. One word of caution is to make sure the water is not too hot. Diabetes can cause a loss of sensation, so make sure the water is at a safe temperature.
Get enough vitamins
Your skin produces vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. Research suggests that this vitamin is very important for the body and can even protect against nerve pain. Most people should get 600 to 800 IU of vitamin D each day, so make sure you’re meeting this requirement.
Other vitamins to look into are vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. These vitamins play an important role in nerve health. For example, vitamin B6 helps the brain produce chemicals that send information through our bodies. To protect your nerves, you may need a supplement for B vitamins and vitamin C.
Smoking is bad for you in every way. Not only does it lead to certain cancers, but also it causes your blood vessels to constrict. As a result, it’s much harder for blood to move through your arteries. This means your peripheral nerves get less blood and nutrients, which can heighten pain.
Use capsaicin cream
Capsaicin cream can help relieve burning and stinging associated with nerve pain. For a higher-strength dose, you’ll need to get a prescription from your doctor. Some doctors prescribe capsaicin patches to wear over the affected area. But, even over-the-counter capsaicin cream is helpful at reducing pain levels.
It’s not easy to live with diabetic nerve pain. Some days will be harder than others, but it’s never too late to make healthy changes in your life. The best way to stop pain is to prevent it by controlling your blood sugar levels.
Doctor’s Choice has several great videos on our site specifically related to understanding diabetes and managing it. Be sure to watch them!