8 Self-Care Tips for Managing Diabetic Neuropathy

  • nerves
    Protect Yourself from Nerve Damage
    Nerve damage from diabetes—or diabetic neuropathy—can be serious. You might not feel small injuries, such as a cut or a blister on your foot. That means you may not treat foot injuries as soon as you should. Or you might have symptoms that make it hard to stand, walk, or do other everyday activities. Protect your health and try these self-care tips to prevent or manage your diabetic neuropathy and your diabetes in general.
  • blood sugar, diabetes
    1. Keep Your Blood Sugar Under Control
    Controlling your blood sugar is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or limit nerve damage. Staying on target means eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and following your schedule for testing your blood sugar and taking your medications. Work with your diabetes care team to understand what to do if your level goes too high or too low.
  • back pain
    2. Be Aware of Symptoms
    Know the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy and call your doctor at the first sign. Symptoms range from numbness to pain or tingling, often in your feet, or feeling weak when you try to stand up. But neuropathy can affect just about any nerve and system in your body. So talk to your doctor about any changes in digestion, bowel movements, urination, and even sexual function, or any sudden nerve pain in one area.
  • foot care, blister
    3. Do Daily Foot Self-Checks
    With diabetic neuropathy, you might not feel a cut or blister on your foot or realize it needs treatment. This can lead to infection. Do a self-check every evening to look for foot woes—check the tops, soles, and between each toe. If you can't easily see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone to help. Never ignore a problem you find, and if there's any delay in healing, see your doctor right away.
  • feet
    4. Be Proactive with Foot Care
    Wash your feet in lukewarm water with a gentle cleanser at least once a day. Dry thoroughly, especially between your toes, where trapped moisture can cause problems. Moisturize your feet to prevent cracks, but avoid the area between your toes. Trim your toenails with a straight edge to prevent ingrowth (more details to come). Always wear shoes, and make sure they won’t rub and cause blisters. Check with your insurance or Medicare about coverage for special shoes. Always wear socks to create a protective barrier between your feet and your shoes.
  • barefoot, feet
    5. Resist the Urge to Go Barefoot
    Never walk around without shoes or slippers, even at home. Going barefoot invites injury, especially when the feeling in your feet is impaired. Forget flip-flops, slides, and shoes with pointy toes. Before you put your shoes on, give them the once-over—look for wear-and-tear, especially on the inside, and rough seams that could irritate or injure your feet. Break in new shoes gradually, starting with only an hour of wear.
  • pedicure, feet
    6. Trim Your Nails With Care
    Trimming toenails will keep them from snagging hosiery and cutting into adjacent toes. Try a schedule of every six to eight weeks. When clipping nails, cut them straight across, but always follow the nail's natural curve. Use a nail file to smooth any rough edges. Never clip or cut down into the corners. If you have an ingrown toenail, or if a toenail has broken the skin on your foot, see a podiatrist promptly.
  • medication, pills
    7. Talk to Your Doctor About Medications
    Several medications are useful for treating diabetic neuropathy. Some of them are medicines that treat other diseases, but they also relieve nerve pain. These include antidepressants and antiseizure medications. Pain medicines, such as narcotics, can also help. Ask your doctor if one of them is right for you. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions for taking the medicine and call your doctor if you have any side effects.
  • cigarette-butts
    8. Don’t Smoke
    Not smoking is the best advice for many health issues, and diabetes is one of them. Smoking is a risk factor for diabetic neuropathy. It increases your risk for dangerous foot problems with diabetes because of its harmful effects on circulation. Get help if you have trouble quitting on your own. Your diabetes care provider may be able to prescribe medication to help you quit, or suggest a smoking cessation program to boost your motivation.
8 Self-Care Tips for Managing Diabetic Neuropathy

About The Author

  1. Diabetic Neuropathies: The Nerve Damage of Diabetes. National Institutes of Health. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/diabetic-neuropathies-nerve-damag...
  2. Diabetics: Keep Your Eye on Your Feet. Medical Board of California. Board of Podiatric Medicine.  http://www.bpm.ca.gov/consgde/diabetes_broch.shtml
  3. Neuropathy (Nerve Damage). American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/neuropathy/
  4. Steps to Prevent or Delay Nerve Damage American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/neuropathy/steps-to-prevent-or-delay.html 
  5. Diabetes, Foot Care and Foot Ulcers. Patient. Egton Medical Information Systems Limited. http://patient.info/health/diabetes-foot-care-and-foot-ulcers 
  6. NICE Guideline 19 Diabetic Foot Problems, Prevention, and Management. The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists http://www.scpod.org/news/nice-guideline-on-diabetic-foot/

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    Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
    Last Review Date: 2019 Aug 27
    THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.