Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: 6 Key Lifestyle Changes That Can Help

Nov 17, 2023
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: 6 Key Lifestyle Changes That Can Help
Up to half of people with diabetes develop some nerve damage called peripheral neuropathy. If you have diabetes, learn how to manage and even prevent this potentially serious complication. Read on to learn more

November is National Diabetes Month, so our team at Sunshine Spine and Pain Specialists, PLLC —  namely Dr. Peter Fernandez and Dr. Amanda Fernandez — wants to focus on this important and prevalent condition.

One of the greatest concerns with diabetes, which affects more than 37 million people in the US, are consequences like peripheral neuropathy. Nerve damage caused by diabetes affects up to half of people with the chronic disease, and, more alarming, it accounts for about 50% of amputations.

In the face of these concerning numbers, our goal is to provide our clients with best practices in managing and preventing diabetes-related peripheral nerve damage.

Why the nerve damage?

When you have diabetes, the glucose levels in your bloodstream are unregulated and often high. These high sugar levels can damage the delicate blood vessels that supply your peripheral nerves and lead to blockages (atherosclerosis) in your arteries.

As a result, peripheral nerves, especially those in your lower limbs and, to a lesser extent, in your upper extremities, become damaged. This damage can lead to slow-healing ulcers, leaving you vulnerable to infection. If you have trouble fighting the infection, your risks for amputation increase as it’s sometimes the only way to prevent the infection from spreading and becoming life-threatening.

Techniques for managing, slowing, and preventing peripheral neuropathy

Now that we understand what we’re up against regarding peripheral neuropathy, let's explore the best practices you can use to better manage the issue.

1. Control your blood sugar

The most important thing to prevent or control nerve damage is to monitor your blood sugar levels. Work with your primary care provider to ensure you have the tools to keep glucose levels within healthy ranges.

2. Exercise and diet

A good exercise regimen and eating healthy are best practices for everyone, but they are even more vital for people with diabetes. The key to protecting your nerve health is ensuring your blood flows freely. So, get moving — even just a 30-minute walk each day  — and ditch the junk food for healthy fruits, vegetables, and grains.

3. Get the proper footwear (and legwear)

Wear shoes that don’t create friction and allow your toes to spread out. Comfort, not fashion, is king here. Also, wear compression socks to improve lower limb circulation.

4. Check your feet often

Before bed, check your feet for issues like open wounds. Early detection of these minor issues can prevent them from becoming major ones.

5. Massage your feet and calves

Another great way to encourage good blood flow and nerve health is to massage your feet and calves at the end of each day.

6. Uncross your legs

If you like to sit with your legs crossed or in another position that can limit blood flow, it’s a good idea to get your legs uncrossed and straightened out.

Between your efforts at home and our neuropathy treatments at our practice, together, we can make a significant difference in your health.

For more information about diabetic peripheral neuropathy, please contact our office in Sarasota, Florida. You can call 941-867-7463 or use our online booking request form.