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March 2, 2013: Diabetes




This week, Dr. Cassaro discussed Diabetes and chronic pain.

Diabetes is a metabolic condition that can lead to a very wide and complex variety of pain conditions. Diabetics suffer from the same pain conditions, illnesses, and injuries as a non-diabetic; the difference is, Diabetes makes all pain worse, and the person with it more susceptible.


Q- What are some pain conditions associated with diabetes?

A- Diabetes can not only cause pain conditions but can make pain worse almost anywhere in the body. Here are some conditions that can be associated with diabetes:

  • Arthritis
  • Limb pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chronic headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (low GI)
  • Skin pain/changes (psoriasis)
  • Insulin and pain?
  • Nerve pain/irritability
  • Nerve sensitivity
  • Metabolic changes/hormonal
  • Circulation
  • Bones
  • Skin
  • Chest pain
  • Diabetic ketoacidosis
  • Numbness
  • Immune system problems
  • Digestion (upper GI)

Q- What is diabetic neuropathy?

A- Diabetic neuropathy is a chronic nerve pain condition. Diabetic neuropathy causes nerves to send exaggerated nerve pain signals. The pain is caused by too much insulin in the body.


Q- Can diet play a role in the severity of diabetic neuropathy pain?

A- Yes! Diet is one of the MOST important factors. A diet high in sugar, grains, and carbohydrates can lead to a much greater chance of getting diabetic neuropathy, and feeling more pain from it. Artificial sweeteners are also notorious for causing more nerve pain and irritation.


Q- Can diabetic neuropathy be treated?

A- Yes. In severe cases (those that cannot be fully controlled through diet alone), a spinal stimulator may be used to reduce/eliminate pain. A spinal stimulator is an implanted  surgical device that distorts the pain signals being sent to the brain.

In addition, alpha lipoic acid and all B Vitamins can help reduce pain. Also review the dietary considerations above.


Q- Can diabetes itself be reversed?

A- Yes. However, it is important to not that only type II diabetes can be reversed. Type I (or juvenile onset diabetes) cannot be reversed. Type II can be reversed through diet, weight loss, exercise, and sleep.


Q. What are some effective treatments for pain conditions associated with diabetes?

A. Treatments for pain will depend on the part of the body affected. Most importantly; if the diabetes is not treated, the therapies for other pain in the body will be ineffective. Treating pain conditions for someone who has diabetes is no different than someone without, except the diabetes must also be treated simoultaneously. Here are some treatments you might expect for the pain:


At Home Treatments
  • Epsom Salts
  • Vitamins and Minerals
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Diet
  • Eliminating foods
  • Topical medications
  • Inversion table
  • Braces/ Compression stockings
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Fish oil
  • Glucosamine
  • Heated pool exercise

Professional Treatments
  • Radio frequency
  • Injections
  • Metabolic treatments
  • Spinal Stimulator
  • Medications
  • Anti-Inflammatory medications
  • Surgery
  • Pro-circulation therapy
  • Diabetes reversal treatments

Q. Are there special treatments for pain conditions if a person has diabetes?

A. In most cases, treating pain in a diabetic person and a non-diabetic person are the same. In the diabetic, if the diabetes is treated, the pain usually goes away on it's own. If not, the diabetes must still be treated in conjunction with the pain condition for effective relief.