Diabetes is one of the most common diseases on the face of the earth, and it is responsible for a whole host of side effects and complications. One such complication is diabetic neuropathy, and it’s this ailment that we will be looking at today. Diabetic neuropathy can be constant, it can be severe, and it can be notoriously difficult to treat.
Because it has a reputation for being so tough to treat, this often leads to people wondering whether diabetic neuropathy can be reversed.
We will be looking to answer that very question in today’s article. Below we’ll look in more detail at what diabetic neuropathy is, how it is managed and treated, potential complications, and whether it can be reversed. So, if you’re ready, let’s make a start.
What is diabetic neuropathy?
Before we can look at whether or not this condition can be reversed, we first need to bring you up to speed with what the condition actually is.
Diabetic neuropathy is best described as being a fairly common, and very serious complication of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
It is a form of nerve damage which is the result of fluctuating blood glucose (sugar) levels within the body. Primarily it is high blood sugar levels that are to blame.
Normally it is a progressive disease which sees its symptoms progressively worsen with the passing of each year. It has been found that individuals that are obese, people with high cholesterol levels, people with high blood pressure, and people with high blood glucose levels are the most susceptible, along with those with diabetes of course.
It typically affects the extremities, with the hands and feet being most commonly affected.
Ordinarily, symptoms manifest themselves in the form of numbness, tingling, weakness, and varying degrees of pain.
Some experience mild pain, while others experience more severe levels of pain. In very severe cases and in cases of peripheral neuropathy, the extremities may become infected or injured and amputation may be the only solution.
Managing diabetic neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy can be managed in a variety of different ways. Some of the most effective ways of managing the disease require the patient to perform various forms of physical exercise.
Low impact cardiovascular exercise, so things like walking or leisurely cycling are great for enhancing blood vessel health and boosting circulation.
Yoga, meditation, and Tai Chi are also great for managing the condition, as they help to calm the mind and relax the body.
This is very beneficial for the nervous system plus these types of activity have also been found to reduce blood pressure, stress, and inflammation, which are all contributing factors to the progression of diabetic neuropathy.
Treating diabetic neuropathy
As well as managing the condition, there are also ways of actively treating diabetic neuropathy as well. Some great treatment options include:
- Stabilizing blood sugar levels – One of the best ways of helping to treat diabetic neuropathy is to keep your blood sugar levels stable. As mentioned, one of the main causes of this condition is dangerously high blood sugar levels. Therefore, if you wish to treat it you should aim to keep blood sugar levels stable. If you use insulin or medication for your diabetes, make sure you take it. Try to eat fresh and healthy produce, and avoid foods that are very high in carbohydrates or those that contain simple sugars.
- Drugs – If possible, you should try to use drugs as a treatment option only as a last resort. If you feel that your pain is too severe, painkilling opioids and similar drugs all work very well at alleviating the pain, though they only mask it.
- Physical therapy – Physical therapy is a great option for people affected by diabetic neuropathy, as this type of treatment can help to alleviate pain and discomfort, while simultaneously reducing the risk of drug dependency.
- Electrical nerve stimulation – Electrical nerve stimulation is a painless treatment option that is useful for people experiencing stiffness, numbness, and tingling in the extremities.
As mentioned, diabetic neuropathy can vary from person to person in terms of severity. A few potential complications associated with the condition, however, include the following:
- Loss of limbs – Damage to the nerves can cause people to lose feeling in their limbs. Patients may experience foot sores and ulcers which could therefore become infected and go undetected for a long period of time. The infection may spread and could cause necrosis of the tissue, meaning that amputation would be the only option.
- Reduced blood pressure – Generally having low blood pressure is seen as more favorable than high blood pressure. However, if blood pressure levels drop too low, you may also be at risk. If your nerves become damaged, those that control blood flow may be affected and this could cause a severe drop in pressure. This can lead to light-headedness, dizziness, and even fainting.
- Perspiration – Damage to the nerves can also cause disruptions to the sweat glands. This can affect the body’s ability to regulate its temperature. Those suffering from diabetic neuropathy often experience profuse perspiration, especially whilst eating, or at night in bed.
Other complications include:
- Sexual dysfunction
- Damage to the joints
- Urinary tract infections
So, can diabetic neuropathy be reversed?
In a word – No. Unfortunately, as of this moment in time, there is no way of reversing diabetic neuropathy.
The good news, however, is that it can easily be treated and managed, with many options being non-invasive, pain-free, and extremely viable and effective.