neuropathy pain relief (foot, toe & finger exercises & treatments)
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To watch a video, instead of reading this post, on how to reduce neuropathy pain with natural methods, scroll to the bottom of this page.
For some people, neuropathy means tingling or numbness in the toes or fingers. For others, neuropathy causes pain in one or more body parts, such as the hips, legs, toes and/or fingers. Neuropathy is usually caused by high blood sugar over a long period of time, but neuropathy can be caused by medications, numerous other ailments, or having diabetes for many years, even with good blood sugar control.
I’ve had Type-1 diabetes for over 20 years now, and even with consistent exercise, healthy eating, counting carbs, glucose testing and being told by doctors that my A1C, the average blood sugar test, is fantastic (the last one from 2 months ago was at 5.5% which averages at 111 mg/dL), I still ended up with painful neuropathy in my fingers and toes, due to poor blood flow. Without adequate blood supply, our bodies don’t heal, and the body parts that don’t receive sufficient blood, with all its nutrients, those sections of the body can die (called necrosis). For this reason, it’s really important to exercise and take additional courses of action for those that have neuropathy, in order to prevent necrosis, infection, and amputations. If you have any black spots on your skin, go the emergency room immediately.
While I am a certified personal trainer, and a certified strength and conditioning coach, I am not a doctor, podiatrist, or physical therapist, so consult with a specialist to make sure the exercises and treatments I use, would be appropriate for you.
If something hurts, stop. I’ve heard of stories where diabetics broke bones, and had ulcers, and didn’t even know it. Ask your doctor if the following exercises and treatments that I have been using would be okay for you to do.
Here are exercises to help reduce neuropathy pain:
- foot shakes
- take shoes off to do toe, ankle, and calf raises to use full range of motion (stand on a cushy yoga matt, or carpet so you don’t slip)
- toe lifts and heel lifts
- Alternating flexing and pointing toes
- Wide, controlled ankle circles
- Straight arm finger flicks
- calf raises
- calf stretches
- foam roll the calves with a soft foam roller (you can foam roll the hips and glutes too, not shown in video)
- hip raises
- Hip rotations
Here are treatments to improve blood flow & reduce pain:
- Staying hydrated with water (I drink tea too)
- Infrared/red light therapy (the one in the video is from Joovv)*
- Elevate feet with a pillow when sitting or lying down
- Keep bedsheets loose to allow the feet and toes to move freely
- Moisturize your feet and toes after your daily shower with an unscented certified organic lotion to ensure it doesn’t contain any chemicals. You can add a certified essential oil for additional moisture and healing. Put on comfortable, fitted socks to lock in moisture and keep your feet clean.
- Massage the bottom of your heel and the sole of the foot with a clean lotion (see above) and/or essential oil (watch video for details)
Does drinking water help with neuropathy pain relief?
Staying hydrated with water and/or tea prevents toxic buildup and inflammation, plus drinking water helps with circulation and transports nutrients. Don’t let yourself get dehydrated!
How can diabetics reverse and/or reduce neuropathy pain?
If you are a diabetic, keeping your blood sugar as steady as possible, without letting it get too high or too low, can sometimes reverse neuropathy.
What’s the best natural painkiller for neuropathy?
The best painkiller for neuropathy is a healthy diet, stable blood sugar levels, and daily exercise. To stop neuropathy pain, or to reduce it, healthy food, like fruits, vegetables, beans and greens, allows our bodies to repair itself.
Which foods make neuropathy pain worse?
Foods like potato chips, animal meat, soda, alcohol, dairy, and fried foods make neuropathy worse. If we keep eating processed food and animal meat, we are adding more inflammation, so the sicker we get, regardless of our genetics. We all have some control over health, so do what you can to improve it any way you can.
Let me know if you have any questions.
For more info on diabetes, check out my book, which details my story of being diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes at age 30, the struggles I went through and how I managed to keep my blood sugar and weight where it needed to be, in The High Five Diet https://thehighfivediet.com (another book, specifically to help diabetics manage blood sugar is coming out in 2021).
Click the YouTube video play button below to watch the exercises, to get more detailed explanations, and additional information:
*Here’s the link to the newer version of the infrared/red light therapy machine I’ve been using: https://joovv.com/products/joovv-go-2-0
Dr. Jo, physical therapist & doctor of physical therapy. Videos: https://youtu.be/loUuq7rPTH0 and https://youtu.be/sLn6OoH12uY
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