There are a number of things you can do at home to help us help you. The things you can do break down into two areas -- safety measures and therapies that support our treatment. Let’s talk about safety first:
1. If you can’t feel your feet, you need to be sure they are not getting scuffed, scraped, burned, cut or punctured. Do whatever you can to protect your feet and keep anything that could hurt them off the floor. Also, examine them regularly to be sure they are in good condition and stay in good condition. Treat any sores, cuts, burns, scrapes or punctures immediately and aggressively.
2. If you are having trouble with balance, restrict your movements to areas you consider safe, use a cane or other device to help you with balance, and, if possible, have another person help you when you are feeling dizzy or unstable.
3. Install safety handles on doors, stairs, showers and toilets. Use them if you’re feeling even a little dizzy or unstable.
4. Be careful around stoves, hot water faucets, sinks, tubs, microwaves, or any other places where you might get burned without knowing it.
5. Eat healthy meals. Remember, your Neuropathy is usually a reflection of injury to your overall body health. The more healthy you can make your body, the faster your Neuropathy will go away.
6. Monitor your blood sugar. Buy a monitor you can use at home and check your blood sugar level regularly. Limit your eating to low glycemic foods to keep your blood sugar under control. Your Neuroapthy hates normal blood sugar. It thrives on high blood sugar -- the same high blood sugar that makes you Diabetic and damages other parts of your body, too.
7. Eat low Glycemic Index Foods. One of the best ways to get your blood sugar under control is to eat only or mostly foods that are low on the Glycemic Index. These are foods that raise you blood sugar slowly when you eat them so your body has time to digest them properly. They’re foods like eggs and meat and fish and whole grain breads. They are not foods like candy, cookies, ice cream and soda. (All my favorites. ☺) For more information about the Glycemic Index and low glycemic foods, click here.
8. There are also drugs that some people use to force down their blood sugar, but we recommend that you use them only in emergency situations and for as short a time as possible. For most people with Type 2 Diabetes, it is very possible to control your blood sugar -- and lose weight and feel a lot better overall -- by eating a healthy diet and limiting what you eat to low glycemic foods. We suggest that you only take drugs to lower your blood sugar as a last resort.
9. Use a “bed cradle” or loop to keep sheets off your feet at night. It might make you more comfortable and help you sleep with a minimum amount of drugs.
10. Quit smoking, and quit or limit drinking. Drinking is a kind of mixed bag. On the one hand, true alcoholics are at increased risk of Neuropathy. If you’re an alcoholic, there are a lot of good reasons to stop drinking, including Neuropathy. But you knew that already, right?
On the other hand, alcohol is a powerful vasodilator. Vasodilators open up your blood vessels and they increase circulation, at least for a while. And that’s what we’re trying to do. So you’ll have to decide. Can you handle a drink or two at the end of the day? Or not? And does it make you feel better or worse? The doctors can’t make ALL the decisions. Whether to drink and whether you are a person who can drink responsibly will, eventually, have to be your own decision.
11. This might sound extreme, but avoid crossing your legs when you sit. That’s right. It slows down circulation in your legs. So does sitting for extended periods and tight fitting shoes. Get up and walk around at least once an hour and wear loose, comfortable shoes. Maybe even slip them off under your desk if you can do it without bothering your co-workers.
12. Experiment with gentle foot and leg massages to increase circulation. Also stretching and whole body massage. If one properly, they are safe, they feel good, and they will probably help -- at least a little.
13. Build a walk for at least 30 minutes every day into your schedule. An hour is even better.
14. Avoid caffeine. It is a vaso-constrictor. That means it makes your blood vessels smaller and reduces circulation to your muscles. Unfortunately, that means limiting coffee, regular tea, Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, “wake-up” drinks, “power” drinks, and a whole bunch of other fun foods. Start reading labels and try to limit caffeine.
15. Some doctors and patients suggest a cool soak from time to time if it makes you or your feet feel better. It won’t do much for your circulation, but if it makes for an enjoyable 15 minutes, why not? We recommend it.
There are a number of non-medical therapies that seem to help Neuropathy. You won’t hear them from most doctors, but we are not most doctors. If there’s anything that can or might help your Neuropathy, we will try to include it here and in our treatment.
1. These vitamins have been associated with improved health and slowing the progression of Neuroapthy -- particularly the first 3 listed.
Vitamin B-12 (methylcobalamin)
Vitamin B1 (thiamine hydrochloride or benfotiamine)
Alpha Lipoic Acid
------------ and also ----------------
Vitamin B9 (folate)
Glutathione (amino acid)
You’ll need to do some research on your own about which of these vitamins you might want to take and the amounts. In many cases, especially when you are ill, your body can use unusually large amounts of these nutrients -- amounts far in excess of the usual RDA (Recommended Daily Amount).
This is an area where we can help to some extent, but your own research will probably help more. Use Google. Read about these vitamins and their effects at high dosage levels. Then CAUTIOUSLY try taking them and noticing what effects they have, if any, on your body and your Neuropathy symptoms.
Unlike medications or drugs (which mostly mask symptoms), vitamins are building blocks your body can use to help repair itself. We are aggressively pursuing the research into vitamins or “nutraceuticals” and we will be adding them to our treatment protocols as soon as we are convinced they have a place there.
2. Some patients report relief from more aggressive massage and stretching -- the kind you might get from a Physical Therapist. We’d suggest you discuss whether you need Physical Therapy with your doctor here.
3. Look into special orthopedic shoes, splints, braces, orthotic inserts for your shoes, electrical socks, and other devices (especially electrical stimulation devices) that protect your feet, stimulate blood flow, help maintain muscle tone, and otherwise support our treatment. Our doctors will help you with suggestions as part of your treatment plan.
4. Look into other devices to make your home safer and you more comfortable. These devices are sold mainly for people with arthritis, but they can be helpful for people with Neuropathy, too. They include:
• Thick, rubber-handled kitchen utensils
• Long-handled "reachers" that can be used to reach for high objects as well as to grasp objects on the floor
• Button hooks to help button or unbutton clothing
• Devices that help put on and pull up socks
• Shoes with closures that make it easy to put them on and take them off
• Devices that pull up zippers
• Long-handled hair brushes and combs
For Neuropathy patients, please visit our Make An Appointment page and schedule your first appointment now.