On Wednesday, November 2, 2016, I will have the opportunity to teach those suffering with Peripheral Neuropathy caused by diabetes the art of self massage to help get circulation moving in the lower extremities of the legs and feet. The DAWN (Diabetes Awareness and Wellness Network) will be hosting an open house and I’ve had the privilege to be asked to come and offer this session. Please feel free to be my guest at the Third Ward Multi Purpose Center.
There is an estimated 20 million people in the United States who have some form of peripheral neuropathy. A large majority of the sufferers are individuals who live with diabetes. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a condition caused by long-term high blood sugar levels which cause nerve damage. Some people will show no symptoms but for others, symptoms may be debilitating. Out of the 20 million people who suffer from neuropathy, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, between 60 and 70 percent of people who live with diabetes suffer with neuropathy.
Generally people who suffer with neuropathy are affected in the legs, feet, toes, hands, and arms. Sometimes individuals are unaware that they have diabetes until they feel the numbness and tingling in their limbs which usually can first appear in the feet and legs. A common symptom of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is numbness. Sometimes it gets so bad that you may not be able to feel your feet while walking. Other times your feet may tingle or burn.
Massage therapy is known to treat a wide range of medical conditions and situations. It can be used for a variety of health-related purposes such as pain management, prevent injuries, restore healthy immune system, reduce stress, and increase relaxation. Here are a few massage techniques that sufferers of neuropathy can perform on themselves:
- Always first inspect your feet. Look for discoloration such as bluish purple spots, redness, sores and cracks in skin. Be sure to check closely between toes. If you cannot reach your feet to pull up to look closely at, use a mirror on the floor. Take about 2 minutes to do a thorough check. If anything looks abnormal be sure to contact your health care provider.
- Spend about one minute on each foot rubbing each foot with light pressure using the whole hand, not just the finger tips. As you massage, go a little deeper and a little deeper. Make sure you listen to your body for pain management.
- Once again using the whole hand, begin compression on the foot, pressing each one with both hands at the same time. Make sure you get under the foot also. Do this for about one minute for each foot also.
- End each session with a goooooood stretch for each foot. Using your hands, pull each foot to the left then to the right. Next gently push the foot up toward the leg then down toward the floor. A good flexing exercise for the ankle that will get circulation moving toward the foot is to lift the foot off the floor and write each alphabet in the air with your foot.
Whenever possible, throughout the day, take off your shoes and rub your feet on the floor, bend and wiggle your toes. Roll and tennis ball under the sole of your bare feet, perform your range of motion exercises (writing alphabets with foot), and massage feet deeply.