A majority of people who suffer from diabetes are affected by type 2 diabetes. Diabetes occurs when your body either ignores insulin or your pancreas won’t create enough insulin. This can trigger multiple health problems.
The onset of type 2 diabetes can be delayed, possibly even prevented, with a healthy lifestyle. If left unchecked, diabetes can lead to serious health problems which include kidney failure, heart disease, circulatory problems and nerve damage, just to name a few.
Once diabetes starts affecting the nerves (also known as neuropathy), individuals may experience one or more of these symptoms:
• Loss of muscle control and sensation
• Numbness, tingling, burning or pain in toes, feet, legs, hands and fingers
• Sharp cramps
• Extreme sensitivity to touch
• Loss of balance or coordination
Losing sensation can be a dangerous situation for some diabetics because small cuts and bruises go undetected, which can trigger infections that can spread to the bone due to a weakened immune system.
In these situations, a physical therapist can help reduce the risk of injury, regain muscle control and improve the quality of life.
Can It Be Treated?
Unfortunately, there is no 'cure' for diabetic neuropathy. Most treatments focus on slowing the progression of the neuropathy by controlling blood sugar using lifetyle modification techniques. Physical therapy is crucial since regular exercise plays a big role in the management of diabetic neuropathy.
The management of diabetes requires self-discipline and regular monitoring of one's glucose levels. In addition to maintaining a healthy weight and controlling blood sugar, it's important to exercise regularly, control blood pressure (take all your prescribed medication at the right time), quit smoking and minimize alcohol.
If you suspect that you, or a loved one, might have diabetic neuropathy, call our office and we will guide you towards your next step.
Physical Therapy & Diabetic Neuropathy
Physical therapists play an important role in controlling your diabetes and the damage it can cause with a structured exercise and injury prevention program.
The process starts with an evaluation to determine the extent of damage to your nervous system. The treatment objective is to retrain your muscles to function the way they are supposed to. This may involve a combination of exercises to challenge your muscles, electrical therapy, positioning techniques and support from your family members.
This makes the physical therapist a critical component of your healthcare team and your biggest ally in the battle against diabetic neuropathy.