Diabetes is likely one of the top 3 conditions we see most commonly in our practice. Millions of people in our country have acquired this condition, and until the population collectively does a better job of improving and controlling their diets, many more will progress into developing it. Diabetes brings enough daily problems in and of itself from the associated weight gain and poor energy, but the ones that develop the longer it sticks around are the bigger concern.
One of the complications of diabetes is peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is a result of nerve damage which often causes weakness, numbness and pain, usually in your hands and feet. People generally describe the pain of peripheral neuropathy as tingling or burning, but it could also feel like a loss of sensation compared to when wearing a thin sock or glove.
Peripheral neuropathy is a serious disease that affects both the nerves and the blood vessels that supply them.
The most common drug prescribed for people suffering with diabetic related leg pain is Lyrica, but as with most prescriptions, there are potential side effects from use, including:
- A higher incidence of hemangio-sarcoma (which is a cancer of blood vessels).
- It raises your creatinine kinase (leads to kidney disease)
- Lowers your platelet count
- Causes changes in the EKG that can lead to heart block
- Causes weight gain
- Causes swelling of the ankles
- Can cause life-threatening angioedema (swelling of the throat and face inhibiting breathing).
- Causes retinal atrophy as well as corneal inflammation and calcification. (meaning you can go blind as it progresses to macular degeneration)
Ironically, many of the above side effects are things that a diabetic patient is trying to avoid. The drug just increases the likelihood that you may get the side effects sooner. On top of that, any improvement the diabetic patient gets is short-lived and will commonly wear off after one year.
Fortunately, there are means to help sufferers of diabetic neuropathy that are natural and free from side effects. The first step is to get the blood sugars normal by controlling the diet. Right along with that is to add supportive nutrients to help minimize the damage to the blood vessels and their nerves. Basic vitamins such vitamin E and the B-complex family, especially B1, B6 and B12, have shown help in reducing inflammation and nerve pain. Acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha-lipoic acid are two other nutrients that have shown benefit in multiple studies, and the popular omega-3 fatty acids are well known to reduce inflammation and support a healthy nervous system.
If you are suffering from diabetes, working with a doctor who can help you not only lower your blood sugars naturally, but also offer strategies to reduce or prevent peripheral neuropathies, will help you in building a good foundation of true health minus the unwanted potential risks of side effects from prescription medications.