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Chiropractic Care for Diabetic Neuropathy 

Published Date: 
November 15, 2023
Healthcare professional checks the nerve response on the bottom of the patient's foot.

Nerve damage is a common complication among people with diabetes. When someone with diabetes develops nerve damage as a result of the disease, it’s called diabetic neuropathy. It’s possible to have just one type of diabetic neuropathy or multiple types. Most of the time, the condition develops gradually over time as the body becomes more damaged from high blood glucose levels. For many, no symptoms or problems are noticed until after a lot of damage has occurred.

Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent diabetic neuropathy from developing. Should it develop, treatments are available to help you manage neuropathic pain and discomfort. Chiropractic treatment is one of the most effective tools available for managing diabetic neuropathy and other complications of diabetes.

Living with Diabetic Nerve Pain

There are several tools available to help people living with diabetic nerve pain. Some of the most commonly used tools include:

  • TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) Massager: These foot massage devices send electrical pulses through the skin to ease pain signals and temporarily relieve pain.
  • LED Wraps/Devices: These pain treatment devices send light through the skin to reduce swelling and increase circulation, helping relieve pain.
  • Nerve Stimulation Devices: These devices send mild electrical pulses into the spine to calm the nerves and help with pain relief in the arms, legs, feet, and toes.
  • Footwear: Wearing well-fitted, comfortable shoes is one of the easiest ways to manage diabetic neuropathy in the feet. Comfortable footwear allows you to improve your quality of life and move throughout the day – helping you manage other symptoms of diabetes.
Closeup of a foot with redness indicating burning and tingling.

4 Types of Diabetic Neuropathy 

There are four types of diabetic neuropathy, including:

1. Peripheral Neuropathy

This is the most common type of diabetic neuropathy that first affects the feet and legs and then the hands and arms. Symptoms include:

  • Tingling or burning sensation
  • Numbness or reduced ability to detect temperature changes or pain
  • Sharp, jabbing pain
  • Pain that worsens at night
  • Extreme sensitivity
  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of reflex response
  • Foot problems, including infections, ulcers, deformity, and bone damage

2. Autonomic Neuropathy

Diabetes affects the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system controls the digestive system, blood pressure, heart rate, sweat glands, and more. Symptoms of diabetic autonomic neuropathy include:

  • Hypoglycemia or low blood sugar unawareness
  • Constipation or diarrhea or both
  • Bladder problems, including frequent UTIs or loss of bladder control
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Gastroparesis, which causes nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and a false sensation of fullness
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Increased or decreased sweating
  • Sudden changes in blood pressure
  • Problems regulating body temperature
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Changes in the eyes’ ability to adjust to light or dark or distance changes

3. Proximal Neuropathy

Proximal neuropathy affects thigh, hip, buttock, and leg nerves.  Symptoms usually only occur on one side of the body and include:

  • Severe pain in the buttock, thigh, or hip
  • Weak or shrinking thigh muscles
  • Chest or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty rising from a sitting position

Symptoms might improve over six months to a year. 

4. Focal or Mononeuropathy

Mononeuropathy affects a single, specific nerve, usually in the face, torso, leg, or arm. Symptoms depend on the nerve involved and include:

  • Severe pain
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Facial paralysis
  • Pain in the shin or foot
  • Pain in the front of the thigh

Symptoms tend to reduce or disappear over a few weeks or months.

How Chiropractic Care Helps Improve Nerve Function

Chiropractic care can be beneficial for improving nerve function for a diabetic patient. This applies to nerve damage caused by diabetes, infections, autoimmune diseases, and other issues. Chiropractic treatment helps improve nerve damage by promoting the body’s natural healing response.

Chiropractor treating a man.

Chiropractic treatments aim to remove issues that interfere with communicating messages sent from the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the body.

Common Chiropractic Techniques for Treating Neuropathy

Some of the most common chiropractic techniques used to treat neuropathy in diabetic patients include:

Cold Laser Therapy

This type of therapy is most commonly used for treating neuropathy. It utilizes a medical device that emits colorful wavelengths of energy into the body’s muscles, nerves, and ligaments. Cold laser therapy stimulates blood flow and increases the nutrients and oxygen at targeted points in the body—successful cold laser therapy results in the repair of nerve fibers.

Therapeutic Ultrasound

Ultrasound is an imaging technique that uses sound waves to help the body build healthy tissue. It’s painless, non-invasive, and can help with neuropathy and other medical conditions.

Chiropractic Adjustments and Manipulations

These are two of the most common treatment approaches used by chiropractors—adjustments correct issues in the spine to relieve pain and create alignment. Misalignment in the spine interferes with nerve signals traveling down the spine. Manipulations and adjustments allow the muscles to relax and stretch, relieving body tension.

How Chiropractic Care Benefits Diabetics

Chiropractic care is highly beneficial for improving the condition of the nervous system. It helps to reduce inflammation, which allows neuropathy pain to ease gradually. It’s one of the best alternatives to more invasive diabetes treatment, including medication.

Foot care for diabetic neuropathy.

Chiropractic manipulation and adjustment help manage symptoms, including loss of sensation and the tingling sensations and pain that are so common in neuropathy.

Often, mild cases of neuropathy can be improved with just a single chiropractic adjustment. It’s also helpful to treat neuropathy and diabetes on an ongoing basis with regular chiropractic care. Chiropractors target the main cause of neuropathy and offer in-office and at-home exercises and lifestyle changes to help people better manage their disease.

Dr. Eric Neumann D.C.

Dr. Eric Neumann grew up in Alberta, Canada where he majored in Chemistry at the University of Calgary. During his time at University, he obtained licensure as a Massage Therapist. It was clear that hands-on healing would be his calling. After suffering multiple sport-related injuries he became interested in Chiropractic. Dr. Neumann graduated from Western States Chiropractic College in 2009. He has since specialized in the treatment and management of acute spinal injuries.

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