Technology has come a long way in reducing the impact of diabetes on people’s lives. Long gone are the days of daily urine testing and sharpening needles. Newer technologies like smart blood glucose meters, insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors have given people better tools to self-manage their condition, a key to living healthier lives and avoiding diabetes complications. However, while the rates of diabetes-related heart disease and stroke have decreased over the last 20 years, complications still impact millions of people with diabetes. Even those who receive excellent medical care and do their best to manage their condition can still develop complications such as heart disease, eye disease or a type of nerve damage called painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN). Fortunately, there is hope, as many of these conditions can be managed.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a painful complication of diabetes, here are 5 tips to help you on your journey.
1. Talk to your doctor about a treatment plan.
Communicate openly and honestly with your healthcare team. Even if your diabetes may be under control, painful complications can still drastically impact your quality of life and should be discussed with your care provider. Work together to develop a treatment plan designed for you. Talk about work and family responsibilities, the impact of your pain on these activities, what motivates or demotivates you, and achievable steps to support both your physical and emotional health. If the pain is impacting your daily life, consider talking to your primary doctor about adding a pain specialist in your area to your team.
2. Focus on keeping your blood glucose in range.
Complications can happen to anyone: it’s not a reflection of how well you’re managing your diabetes. Try not to let the frustration of developing a complication cause you to give up on your blood glucose (BG) control goals. Spending more time with your blood glucose between 70 and 180 mg/dL will help you feel better on a daily basis, prevent future complications and, in some cases, even slow the progression of a complication after onset. Frequently monitor your glucose with a blood glucose meter or continuous glucose monitor and manage your carbohydrate intake to help you stay in range. If you require insulin, work with your healthcare team to balance your carbohydrate intake and insulin dosages, and learn how to promptly address the highs and lows that are bound to occur in a body that no longer produces enough of its own insulin.
3. Embrace new technologies.
In recent years, there has been an explosion of diabetes innovation — from apps to help you count carbs and plan meals to better tools for managing complications. For example, the FDA recently approved HFX™ for PDN, a Senza spinal cord stimulation system that uses 10kHz Therapy to treat pain from diabetic neuropathy. The device uses mild electrical pulses to the nerves to interrupt pain signals to the brain, relieving the burning, pins-and-needles pain associated with PDN. Talk to your doctor about your biggest diabetes challenges and what technologies might be best for you.
4. Find your support system.
Managing diabetes is a challenge, but you don’t have to travel the journey alone. Find others who share similar experiences online or offline. Look for groups who can provide understanding, encouragement and education to support you where you are. Alternatively, you may benefit from hearing other people with the complication share how they have overcome their pain to live healthier lives.
5. Stay optimistic but realistic.
Developing a diabetes complication is not a sign of failure nor a reason to despair. You can still live a full and happy life. It is important to take the condition seriously and you’ll likely need to make adjustments to your routine, based on discussions with your healthcare team. But a positive outlook will help you adapt and stay motivated.
November is American Diabetes Month, and the American Diabetes Association is asking people with diabetes to take The Big Step Up and take their health into their own hands. If you’re living with painful diabetic neuropathy and want to see if HFX for PDN can help you take The Big Step Up to thriving with diabetes, visit HFXforPDN.com.