Pain associated with diabetes is normally caused by damage to the nerve cells. It effectively “starves” these nerves by eating away at the blood vessels that feed them. Since it begins with the smallest and most delicate nerve cells, diabetic pain most often begins in the feet or hands. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy, or nerve pain associated with diabetes in the extremities, can cause tingling, numbness, burning, or pain sensations in affected areas. Sometimes, the loss of sensation in the feet can be so great as to lead to unrecognized (and therefore untreated) foot injuries or sores.
The most important thing you can do to ease your diabetic pain is to control your blood sugar levels.
Keeping constant and normal blood sugar levels can help relieve pain associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy and may even be able to reverse certain symptoms. To better control your blood sugar, you should:
- Avoid high sugar foods, such as sweets and candy
- Limit the amount of refined grains that you eat, such as white rice, bread, or pasta
- Abstain from alcohol as it can worsen pain symptoms and affect blood sugar levels
- Eat small, frequent, and healthy meals and snacks to keep your blood sugar levels constant
- Indulge in fresh fruits and vegetables and other high fiber foods, such as whole grains
- Check your blood sugar levels often
Besides maintaining a more constant and normal blood sugar level, also make sure that you are receiving enough vitamin B12 in your diet. Vitamin B12 is essential for nerve health and a deficiency can actually worsen diabetic pain symptoms. If you don’t receive enough vitamin B12 in your diet (most often found in fish, eggs, or poultry), consider talking to your doctor about supplements.
As with every new diet or lifestyle change, it’s best to discuss your options with your doctor beforehand. Your doctor can suggest certain diets or options that may be best for your specific condition. He or she may also suggest talking to a dietitian–an expert in food and nutrition–or an endocrinologist for more guidance. An endocrinologist is a doctor who specializes in the study of the endocrine system. Since diabetes is a disease that affects the endocrine system, an endocrinologist is often highly specialized in the treatment for and care of diabetes.
Do you suffer from diabetic pain? How do you manage your diet in order to control your pain?
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