Pain Relief for Diabetics with Chronic Leg Pain
Poorly controlled diabetes over a period of time damages blood vessels, nerves and by extension major target organs. Some of these organs include the eyes, heart, kidneys, stomach, eyes and the nervous system. Fundamentally the peripheral and autonomic nerves are damage.
These diabetic complications are called diabetic neuropathy. 20 – 30% of diabetic patients will develop symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. For others this diabetic complication may be missed. Diabetic neuropathy indicates there has been nerve damage due to blood sugar levels being too high over a long period of time.
In a physiological way the nerve conduction speed in damaged nerves is slower than normal and we can measure that using the technology of electrophysiology.
There is a direct correlation between diabetic neuropathy and the quality of the metabolic control. The age of the patient and the number of months or years when he or she was first diagnosed with diabetes give an indication of the prognosis.
Peripheral neuropathy affects mainly the legs and feet. The classic symptoms of tingling, numbness, pain and burning are experienced. For this reason all diabetics must pay attention to foot care.
It is very important for all clinicians, health educators, complementary & alternative practitioners, care providers for diabetics to be aware of this diabetic complication which affects the nerves. Patient education is extremely important for the diabetic to understand the seriousness of diabetic neuropathy and how to prevent or control this.
TENS THERAPY FOR PREIPHERAL NEUROPATHY
The TENS unit is a portable battery powered device used for pain relief of muscular and nerve injury. The hand held unit has two electrodes that are connected to the skin. The unit sends low voltage stimulating pulses across the surface of the skin and along the nerve strands. The stimulating pulses help to prevent/block pain signals from reaching the brain. The TENS device also helps to stimulate the body’s production of Endorphins which is the body’s natural pain killers.
SECONDARY PREVENTION MEASURES
- Diabetics who have been diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy should consider the recommendation regarding micronutrients namely vitamin B and L-lipoeic acid. Early signs of nerve damage can be improved. It is however always advisable to discuss supplements with your nutritionist and doctor.
- Some diabetic patients can be managed with non-drug therapy. Diet, counseling and close monitoring of the blood sugar levels allow some diabetics to live a good quality of life. Controlling blood sugar levels is the most important prophylaxis to prevent complications including diabetic neuropathy.
- It cannot be over emphasize how important foot care (daily inspection, comfortable shoes, hygiene) and exercise are for the overall good management of the diabetes.
If you are a diabetic experiencing pain in the lower legs and have been diagnosed with Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy, discuss with your doctor using TENS therapy to relieve and manage the pain. Having your home device gives you 24/7 pain management to ease the pain in the lower limbs is empowering for diabetic patients.