Nearly everyone has experienced the tingling feeling of “walking on pins and needles” after having sat in an awkward position for a while. Though some believe this sensation is caused by restricted blood flow to the lower extremities, your foot falling asleep actually has more to do with compressing your nerves in a certain area. When you change position, your nerves slowly return to normal and start communicating with the brain again.
Now, imagine living with the possibility of permanently losing feeling or experiencing chronic pain or tingling in your feet. This condition is known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy – a particular type of nerve damage that happens due to the toxic effects of high blood sugar and poor circulation. Unfortunately, 60-70 percent of those with diabetes will suffer from some sort of nerve damage in their lifetime.
The good news is that reversing neuropathy is possible with the proper self-care. If you are already suffering from the loss of feeling in your feet or have other symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, talk with your doctor about implementing some of the measures listed below.
- Control your blood sugar. This is the single, most important factor in reversing neuropathy. After all, high blood sugar is what causes nerve damage and nerve pain the first place. Keeping your blood sugar under control can stop future damage and reduce pain in the meantime.
- Stay active. Consistent exercise improves blood flow to the legs. Therefore, implementing a program of regular walking may nourish damaged nerves back to health. Exercise also helps reduce blood sugar, making diabetes easier to control overall.
- Supplement with vitamin B. Vitamins B-1, B-12, B-6, and folic acid are essential for nerve health. However, it’s important not to take more than 50 milligrams of vitamin B-6 per day, as high doses can cause toxicity and make the symptoms of neuropathy even worse.
- Supplement with oil from the evening primrose plant. This oil, which is rich in omega-6 fatty acids, may boost the repair or regrowth of damaged nerve cells. It’s available in pill form, and it may be necessary to take up to 12 capsules per day to see results.
- Take a warm bath. While submerging your extremities in warm water alone won’t aid in reversing neuropathy, it will provide relief from mild nerve pain. Warm baths boost blood flow to the legs and feet. And, because baths are relaxing, they can help make pain easier to tolerate.