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Treating Diabetes and Sciatica

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According to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, over 8% of the US population has diabetes. That number is rising, with the CDC reporting that a third of children born in 2000 are expected to develop the disease at some point in their lives. Lack of exercise and poor nutrition are responsible for the increasing rate of diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is by far the most common. Type 1 occurs due to an immune disorder that leads to the destruction of cells that produce insulin in the body. Type 2 diabetes is associated with either a lack of insulin production or the body’s inability to use insulin properly. Insulin is responsible for transporting glucose from the blood into the cells. A lack of insulin, or improper use of it, causes high levels of glucose to build up in the blood while cells do without insulin. Type 2 diabetes is a diet-related disease.

diabetes and sciatica

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One of the many complications that can result from diabetes is peripheral neuropathy, which is pain, numbness, or tingling in the limbs caused by nerve damage. The exact mechanisms are not known, but high blood sugar levels are known to impair nerve function. The 2011 fact sheet states that 60-70% of diabetics have some degree of nervous system damage. The sciatic nerve, the largest in the body, is commonly affected by diabetes. It runs from the lumbar spine to the foot on each side of the body.

Sciatica can be common in diabetics not only because of high glucose levels, but also because of obesity. Obesity is a risk factor for both diabetes and sciatica. Excessive pressure on the spine can compress intervertebral discs, which can lead to bulging or hernias. The intervertebral discs can affect the nerves as they exit the spine.

If you have diabetes and either experience pain, numbness, or tingling in your lower back running down your leg, you likely have sciatica. Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, constant hunger, fatigue and slow healing. If you’re experiencing these associated with sciatica symptoms but don’t know if you’re diabetic, it’s a good idea to get tested.

Treatment of diabetic sciatica

The best way to treat sciatica caused by diabetes is to treat diabetes. In our culture, medicine is often viewed as the first and last line of defense. However, medication should be viewed as a temporary measure, while diet and lifestyle changes are pursued as a more permanent treatment. Losing weight and giving your body foods that are easier to process can reduce or even eliminate the need to use medications to control diabetes.

The main focus of any diabetes diet plan is to keep carbohydrate intake low and constant as carbohydrates are converted to glucose in the body. It’s important to eat only a small amount of carbohydrates at a time and eat them at regular times each day to prevent spikes in blood sugar levels.

The fat levels must also be kept in check to relieve the pancreas and liver. Saturated fats should be strictly limited, while trans fats should be avoided altogether.

A nutritionist can help you devise a plan that will ensure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs while avoiding unhealthy foods. Light exercise will likely be part of your treatment; Incorporating a 30-minute walk into your day can boost your metabolism and help you lose weight.

Some herbal supplements may help lower blood sugar levels naturally, but studies on alternative medicine for diabetes are few and far between. Also, be sure to talk to your doctor if you’re considering a supplement to lower blood sugar. When these supplements are combined with medications, they can cause blood sugar levels to drop too low. See the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine page at Information on dietary supplements for diabetics.

Managing diabetes and the problems it causes requires a commitment to lifestyle changes. While diet and exercise may not initially be enough to manage your condition, they can reduce or eliminate your dependency on medications by allowing your body to function properly on its own.

Thanks to Amee LaTour

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