live with physical challenges.
I am NOT a DOCTOR!!! I don't even play one on TV!!! It is my goal to live a more healthy lifestyle. Living well and being happy is what this blog is all about.

"Nothing,' wrote Tolstoy, 'can make our life, or the lives of other people, more
beautiful than perpetual kindness."

- Gretchen Rubin

I write about my own experiences and what works (or does not) for me. Nothing I write is to be taken as medical advice.

Only your health care provider, personal physician,Disclaimer:
I am not a doctor - I don't even play one on TV! This
or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs.

Monday, December 17, 2012

All I Want for Christmas Is to be Pain-Free

Chiropractic massage helps get the
circulation going in your feet.
I have spent literally months researching neuropathy (yes, it is my favorite subject - thank you for asking).  Neuropathy, for those of you who do not know, is diabetic nerve pain caused by nerve damage.  It's the result of toxic high blood sugars and poor circulation.  Over time, as more nerve fibers are lost, nerves lose their ability to transmit sensation.  It can affect either the hands or the feet.  Mine is in just my right foot.  It's complicated further by sciatica and a rotated pelvis on the right side resulting in leg length discrepancy. 
Most of the health blogs will preach the same ol' sermon - Keep your blood sugars under control, watch your diet and exercise.  And, truth be told, they are probably the ones that make the most common sense of all.  However, every time I hear the "E" word - if I'm having a particularly bad day with my leg, I'm like, "Oh, right...  I'm gonna go out and walk a mile with this pain??? I really don't think so!"  I'll be honest, I struggle a little more all the time with walking, but I always put forth the effort to do it - because I'm not a quitter!  I'm stubborn!  Some days I have a cane - some days I don't - but one way or the other - I go!  Where there's will, there's a way, right?  I still have the will - hopefully I always will - have the will!!!

Look, my brain knows that logically it's a good idea to exercise.  It gets the circulation going and blood flow to the lower extremities is a good thing!  I get that, I really do!  But my question is, "Do they understand my pain level???" Sometimes I don't think they do!  They say things like, "Talk to your doctor about an exercise regimen that's right for you!"  I'm like, "Yeah - right.  I'm going to talk with my doc, (who I know goes to the gym like three times a day to work out) - about my petty little workout with my gimpy leg.  Uh-huh...  that's part of my plan - NOT!"

But my research on the subject led me down some interesting paths.  Some people say that the sunburn spray stuff helps neuropathy.  It apparently numbs the skin.  

There's also a very spicy pepper cream that lowers the amount of Substance P in the nerve endings when applied.  I don't know what that means, but it sounds very scientific.  You do have to be religious about using it to see results - apply it three or four times a day and know that for a few weeks, it will feel worse before it gets better.  That sounds promising, doesn't it? 

How about socks that contain magnets?  I read that these magnets relieved diabetic neuropathy in most cases.  However, they were less effective for foot pain due to other causes.  I have my doubts...  but okay.

A Podiatrist of 24 years created a homeopathic and herbal treatment that claims to relieve neuropathy. 

Some people wrote that they wear a specific brand of shoe with nubbies.  They say the nubbies help to increase blood flow.  Well, to have that affect, you have to walk, right?  I rest my case.  Moving on...

Massaging the affected limbs with gentle circulatory techniques can help to improve circulation, stimulate nerves and temporarily reduce pain.  Or, there is chiropractic massage which is wonderful.  If you're a brave soul, you could try acupuncture, which is known to proffer remarkable benefits as well.  Acupuncture reinstates balance and equilibrium in the body by manipulating the flow of the vital principle.

Then we have the alphabet list of vitamins that are recommended (which as far as I'm concerned should be under the heading "Eat Healthy" but maybe I'm off base).  Here we go:

Vitamin B:  B-1, B-12, B-6 and folic acid are essential for nerve health!  Just be careful with vitamin B-6, as you could suffer toxicity and actually cause pain and numbness in the hands and legs, as ironic as that sounds.  Do not take more than 50 mg. a day.  One other little tidbit for you - according to the Office of Dietary Supplements, a decrease of vitamin B-6 from alcohol abuse contributes to neuropathy and abnormal nerve sensations in the arms and legs.  I found that to be quite interesting. 

Vitamin C:  Insulin takes vitamin C in to cells, which lowers permeability of the capillaries and augmenting wound healing.  Diabetes drains out intracellular vitamin C, and disallows a diabetic of vitamin C's cellular protection.  Vitamin C is a potent anti-oxidant and is crucial to prevent oxidative damage to the cells of the body.

Vitamin E:  This is another powerful anti-oxidant that significantly reduces levels of free radicals, preventing damage.  Supplementation improves nerve function and conduction substantially.

Then there is Magnesium, which is an essential mineral that the body uses for protein, fatty acid formation, new cell creation, clotting blood, supporting muscle and nerve function and creating energy for the body.  You should get 400 mg. twice a day.  Most people are magnesium deficient.  Diabetic neuropathy is worsened when patients have a magnesium deficiency. 

This is why I eat high-alkaline foods!  The protection to my nerves and cells is so important to me.  You really are what you eat, folks!  I think I'll just do what I've always done - take my One-A-Day 50+ multivitamin and eat my veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, lean protein and whole grains!  

My friend Chris turned me on to some of the more holistic remedies out there, like evening primrose oil.  But I read that you have to take up o 12 capsules of primrose oil a day to see any results!  Yikes!  But there are some oils you can apply topically such as geranium oil and lavender oil.  Other homeopathic home remedies used to treat neuropathy include hypercum, cantharsis, belladonna and aconite.  Also, St. John's Wort can be used to treat nerve pain.  Skullcap is an herb used in alternative medicine that supports the nervous system with anti-inflammatory properties and sedative qualities. 

GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) is an omega-6 fatty acid, which showed significant improvements in a British study on over 100 diabetics for one year. Each participant had measurable improvement when given 240-480 mg. per day. The best GLA supplements for neuropathy are derived from evening primrose oil or borage oil. 

Thiotic acid, or perhaps better known as Alpha-lipoic acid, clears the free-radicals from the body, potentially reducing nerve damage.  In Germany it is used to treat nerve pain and damage from diabetes.  It's given orally or intravenously (600-1200 mg per day) and seems to be effective at reducing nerve pain in people with diabetes.  It's sold in tablet form as a supplement here in the States.  Typically 1200 to 1800 mg. a day is required to treat neuropathy.  What is this little miracle?  It's a fatty acid that is found inside every cell within the body.  Its role is to turn glucose into energy, which in turn is used by the cell as fuel.  Be patient though - it takes up to three weeks to begin seeing any improvement.

Herbal supplements that work well on neuropathy are combinations of ginko biloba, gotu kola and bacopa.  Ginko biloba is an antioxidant herb that increases blood flow to the tiny capillaries throughout the body, improving oxygen and nutrient delivery to areas affected by both diabetic neuropathy and retinopathy.  Gotu kola and bacoa are herbs that improve brain and nerve function.

Either a good omega-3 fish oil supplement or flax oil is helpful as well.  Taking enough is the challenge - at least 2000 mg per day of fish oil or 1-2 tablespoons per day of flax oil.  Sometimes it's helpful to take a concentrated DHA supplement as that is the omega-3 oil that strengthens and calms the nervous system.

Well, while there are many different options out there to choose from, it is imperative that you find the right one for you.  I've been on this hunt for a very long time and if there's one thing I do know, good old fashioned trial and error is the only way to find just the right treatment or remedy for you!  It was my purpose to showcase all the many options I've run across in my own journey.  If you suffer from neuropathy (and believe me, I feel your pain), I hope this post will help you make the best choice possible.

Enjoy cute little Melissa Lynn singing this classic Christmas song!  I changed the words to "All I Want for Christmas Is to be Pain-Free" - !


Today is NATIONAL MAPLE SYRUP DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  This would not be a food that I would indulge in, but just a little bit - remember moderation - would not be horrible.  Enjoy your day!



1 comment:

ArtTeacher1359 said...

I can relate to nerve damage or neuropathy. I found out a month ago that I have a form or neuropathy, not only in my hands, and trigger thumb, but a form called, gastroparesis. After taking and having 10 side effects, I got off Reglan--the medical practices way of handling gastroparesis. I am now taking an over-the-counter Vitamin World herbal treatment that works! Check it out: It is called, Zygest Multi-Enyme Digestive Care Full Specturm Formula. You can locate the photo of the box on their website. But it doesn't do too good of a job of showing the picture of how the fats, carbs and proteins are broken down into the stomach. I take one tab 3xs a day with Cranberry and Acidophilus for each meal. I still have to take stool softeners. It has changed my life.
Hope you can share some of this. If you need more info, I can provide. I don't always have too much time to read your posts, but scan and get the best of the first few sentences. Someday we will have to meet. God bless. Happy Holidays!