One of the worst diabetic neuropathy symptoms is burning feet. It keeps those suffering with neuropathy from getting any decent rest. When most people of diabetic neuropathy symptoms, the first thing that comes to mind is numb and painful feet. My patients have described neuropathy in feet as a skin-crawling sensation with pins and needles. Diabetics will also complain about the same problems in their hands, but it is much more rare.
The first areas affected are usually the feet in a sock-like distribution pattern. As time goes by and more nerve damage happens, the hands will become affected in a glove-like distribution pattern. When the damage is chronic the numbness moves into the thighs.
Neuropathy is Latin for “nerve disease." It is a general term for when nerves don’t work right because they are malfunctioning. Sometimes it is from a pinched nerve, other times it is from systemic disease. It’s important to get evaluated by a good neuropathy doctor to determine how serious the condition is.
Diabetic neuropathy symptoms are in a class of their own because they can get very complicated. Sugar regulation problems cause a cascade in the body and create an entire web of dysfunction. A lifetime of a meat, dairy, animal-based oil, and high-carbohydrate diet terrorizes your pancreas and wears it out. The organ can’t pump out insulin like it is supposed to so the sugar in your blood builds up. Some sugar (glucose) is good but too much is toxic. The high amounts of glucose irritate the blood vessels and inflame them.
Think of the glucose molecules like little pieces of sand that scratch the walls of the blood vessel. Over the years the constant irritation causes the body to lay down patches of cholesterol to help heal the walls of the vessel. Sometimes these fatty cholesterol patches oxidize and turn into hard lumps inside the arterial wall. This causes a narrowing of the vessel which in turns causes less blood flow to the hands and feet, giving you diabetic neuropathy symptoms. Think of your blood vessels like old pipes that have been narrowed by rust build-up.
The problem with diabetics is this narrowing is just the first step in a negative feedback loop. The more the glucose runs around the body, the more systemic inflammation it causes. Given enough time the inflammation will even constrict the blood vessels to the brain. The brain is a sugar hog and demands high amounts of oxygen and glucose to function well. If the brain doesn't get what it wants it starts shutting off blood to the feet and hands to re-route it to the head. So someone who is a diabetic is creating inflammation, which chronically starves the brain. Diabetic neuropathy symptoms get amplified once the brain gets involved and steals blood.
But it’s not over, it gets even worse. The nerves themselves have tiny blood vessels that help keep them alive. The swelling from the diabetic inflammation starts to damage those vessels too. Without their own healthy blood supply the nerves start to malfunction and wither away and die. This nasty negative feedback loop causes large fiber neuropathy, especially neuropathy in feet.
I have seen this cycle get exponentially worse when patients also smoke or take cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
In a nutshell, it all starts with inflammation from eating meat, dairy, animal-based oils, and high-carbohydrate foods. This is why many of my patients have told me that their drugs don’t help much. The drugs are just covering up symptoms; they are not stopping you from eating a meat, dairy, animal-based oil, and high refined carbohydrate diet, which is the real cause.
Large diameter afferent nerve fibers are the first to be affected by neuropathy. If the nerve is a C fiber it will give you a large, diffuse, painful burning area in the feet or hands. When A-Delta fibers are affected, the pain will be in a very specific spot on the skin instead of a large diffuse area.
The small diameter afferent nerve fibers are not as affected by neuropathy and only get attacked when large diameter nerve fibers have already been heavily damaged.
Once sensation leaves the feet very serious complications can occur. The leading cause of death in seniors is falls. When a person can’t feel their feet it increases their chance of falling exponentially.
Another terrible side effect of diabetic neuropathy is the development of Charcot joints. These neuropathic joints occur because people fracture a bone in a limb they've lost sensation in. As the person continues to walk on or use the broken joint it becomes deformed.
Eventually theses serious diabetic neuropathy symptoms strangle the blood out of the legs and can eventually necessitate amputation.
There is hope, but it depends on how serious the diabetic neuropathy symptoms are and how advanced the condition is. As long as you have not sustained 85% nerve damage, it is possible to restore function. Again, this is why you should find a good neuropathy doctor to assess how much nerve damage has been done.
The first place to start is a good plant-based diet that's low in processed carbohydrates. Controlling your consumption of animal products and processed carbs is priority #1. Stop throwing gasoline on the fire and eating foods that inflame your vessels.
Some other things I have seen work well in practice are using a high quality cold quartz laser. These have been shown to help those tiny nerve blood vessels to grow back. This allows good nutrient flow back into the withered nerve fibers which restores function and feeling. Using the low-level light therapy is almost like watering a tree so its roots grow nice and deep.
Diabetic neuropathy symptoms respond to high-frequency vibration. Large fiber neuropathy affects vibration and can make your skin feel numb. By using a vibration plate it makes those damaged nerves fire over and over, which helps rebuild them.
A device using Schumann resonance or 7.83 Hz has also been shown to be helpful as a diabetic neuropathy treatment to stimulate and heal the nerves. We have used a device that looks similar to an old school T.E.N.S unit but is very different. The device uses the same vibration that the earth makes (7.83 Hz) and nerves respond very well to the frequency.
A pinched nerve or subluxation can also cause neuropathy in feet or hands. A good chiropractor is the first place you want to go to rule out true peripheral neuropathy from a pinched nerve mononeuropathy.
I am amazed at how much great technology has come out in the last ten years, and is available to the public. Practitioners are now able to manage diabetic neuropathy better than they ever have. I look forward to what the next ten years will bring in the development of new devices and procedures.
Ultimately the diet has to be addressed or all of these devices are just stopgaps and temporary solutions.
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