Some experts estimate that diabetic neuropathy affects up to fifteen million Americans. Many of those suffering from this condition—irritating at best, painful and debilitating at worst—feel as if they have few treatment choices, relying on medication and sometimes living in excruciating pain as well as increased stress and anxiety as they try to cope in a world that is not always accommodating to their pain. Many people do not realize, however, that help for their diabetic neuropathy may exist outside of their physician’s office. For a lot of people seeking relief from the pain and inconvenience of diabetic neuropathy, a chiropractor might be the answer.
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Neuropathy, in general, is a term for a disease that effects the nerves. It can occur in any nerves throughout the body. When damage occurs in the nervous system it profoundly effects communication between the brain and the nerves. Ultimately this causes many serious health concerns, such as numbness, tingling, and pain. Some people appear to experience no physical symptoms at all but will simply lose all feeling in some areas or extremities altogether, such as lack of sensation in the feet. Sometimes, it can affect organs, and loss of sight and hearing can occur.
There are four basic types of neuropathy, but it is also often broken down even further by the originating cause, such as diabetic neuropathy or alcoholic neuropathy. The four types of neuropathy, along with a brief descriptions are:
- Peripheral Neuropathy—This type of neuropathy typically affects the extremities, such as fingers, toes, legs, feet, and hands. It refers to the nerves that are part of the peripheral nervous system, and not part of the brain or spinal cord.
- Cranial Neuropathy—When any of the twelve cranial nerves, exiting the brain, sustain damage, cranial neuropathy occurs. There are two types of cranial neuropathy. Optic neuropathy refers to when the optic nerve becomes damaged and creates issues with sight. Auditory neuropathy affects the nerve that carries the signal to the brain that affects the ability to hear.
- Autonomic Neuropathy—This type of neuropathy refers to damage of the involuntary nervous system. It affects areas of the body including the heart, perspiration, bowel and bladder function, and sexual response.
- Focal Neuropathy—This occurs when damage seems to focus on just one area of the body or one type of nerve.
How Can You Treat Diabetic Neuropathy?
There is no cure for diabetic neuropathy. Treatments aim at reducing the symptoms and minimizing discomfort. They also focus on slowing the progression of neuropathy and restoring function when possible. Treatment of diabetic neuropathy will also depend in many cases on the type of neuropathy present and the health issues that it is causing, as treatments will be targeted toward those particular areas.
For diabetics, keeping the blood sugar within the range recommended by your physician is one of the best ways to slow the progression of the disease, and can even aid in decreasing current symptoms. Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, as well as keeping blood pressure under control are other factors that can positively influence diabetic neuropathy. Medications are also sometimes prescribed for pain, and other treatments are specific to the main issue at hand, such as catheterization for bladder issues, diet changes for bowel problems or indigestion, or medications or injections for sexual disfunction.
In addition to all of these treatments, though, is another type of option that many people might not have considered before now, and that is to engage the services of a chiropractor. Chiropractic care is affordable and pain free. Best of all research supports its effectiveness on reducing the pain and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Read on to discover how a chiropractor can help with your neuropathy.
How Can a Chiropractor Help with Diabetic Neuropathy?
It surprises many people to find that a chiropractor could offer a source of relief from symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. But it really isn’t that surprising when you think about the fact that one of the main focuses of chiropractic care is the health and alignment of the spine and of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. If your back becomes misaligned, then any number of serious issues could occur, including damage to nerves. Add to that the fact that all of the peripheral nerves branch off from the brain and spinal cord, and a picture begins to emerge illustrating different ways in which a chiropractor might work well with diabetic neuropathy.
What Exactly Will the Chiropractor Do?
Most chiropractors believe in getting to the root cause of an issue instead of covering up symptoms with medications. They usually work under the assumption that if the damage is caught early on and assertively addressed, then damage from diabetic neuropathy is hopefully minimal. Some techniques administered by chiropractors might include:
- assessment of posture, work habits, and other factors that might cause nerve compression in the body
- medical massage
- strengthening exercises
- and much more.
Engaging a chiropractor does not mean you need to discontinue any other treatments you are currently using. On the contrary, chiropractors work in partnership with other providers, complementing other treatments that are working well for you.
If you are experiencing diabetic neuropathy and you have not yet consulted with a chiropractor, consider doing so right away. Your chiropractor may be able to suggest some treatment options you have not yet explored or considered. When with your physician and other medical providers, your chiropractor can be a valuable member of your healthcare team.
If you are interested in learning more about seeing a chiropractor to treat your diabetic neuropathy, please contact Epic Healthcare & Physical Medicine at (972) 355-0083. Our experienced staff can provide evaluations with the information you need to make the best treatment decision for your needs.