According to the American Diabetes Association, 8.3 percent of the United Statespopulation is living with diabetes. Dr. Scott Gottlieb of Gramercy Pain Management inNew York City offers his insight as to what diabetic patients should ask their doctor.

1.  How does diabetes cause pain? 

The reason patients feel pain is because the diabetes attacks the small blood vessels which ultimately damage the nervous system. The pain that patients are feeling comes from the damaged nerves.

2. What are the symptoms of diabetes? 

The symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include but are not limited to: increased thirst and hunger, dry mouth, nausea, abdominal pain, frequent urination, fatigue, heavy breathing and frequent infections of the skin and urinary tract. The symptoms of Type 2 diabetes a patient can experience are similar to Type 1 diabetes with the addition of possible blurred vision, numbness or tingling of the hands and feet and sores that are slow to heal. 

3.  What kind of treatment is available to help with diabetic pain? 

There is a wide array of medications available to try to help with diabetic pain such as Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory (NSAIDS) pills like Aspirin and Advil. Anti-seizure drugs such as Lyrica or Nerontin are also available to help with pain because it can calm sensitive nerves. Along with NSAIDS and anti-seizure drugs, antidepressant medications can alleviate the pain as well. For patients who do not wish to take pills orally, there are also topical creams available. 

4.  If I do not want to take pain medications, what other types of ways can pain doctors alleviate diabetic pain? 

If the patient does not wish to take pain medications, the pain management doctor can work with the patient to come up with a diet/exercise regimen and a possible regimen of massage, acupressure, or biofeedback to help with the pain.

5. What non-traditional methods could help with diabetic pain? 

The non-traditional methods to help with diabetic pain include regimens of diet/exercise, massage, acupressure or biofeedback (a technique that trains people to improve their health by controlling certain bodily processes that normally happen involuntarily).

6. How can diet/exercise help with diabetes and diabetic pain? 

It is important for a diabetic to always eat a balanced diet. Instead of choosing carbohydrates that consist of only white flour, eat whole-wheat, which are considered “slow-release” and “high-fiber” foods that benefit a diabetics health more than white flour. Also, patients think that when they have diabetes they have to avoid sugar at all cost. Wrong. Diabetic patients can eat sugar, but in moderation and not everyday. Exercise is just as important as maintaining a balanced diet. Any type of physical activity such as hiking, walking, biking and swimming can control diabetes.  

About Dr. Gottlieb:

Dr. Scott Gottlieb is a pain management expert and the founder of Gramercy Pain Management.  He is the director of Pain Management at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary (NYEE) and has treated over 3,000 patients. Dr. Gottlieb is board certified in both pain management and anesthesiology. He has offices in both Manhattan and Montebello, New York in Rockland County. 

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