Painful diabetic neuropathy is a common condition among both type 1 and type 2 diabetics. If diabetics keep their blood sugar levels in good control, however, they are much more likely to avoid developing neuropathy later in life, even years after they backslide from intensive therapy.
Physicians at the University of Michigan Medical School followed 1,186 insulin-using diabetics for 4 to 9 years. They divided the diabetics into two groups. One group kept "tight" control over blood sugar levels for at least 4 years. This means they checked their blood sugars multiple times per day, in the morning when they woke up, and before and/or after meals and before going to bed. The other group checked blood sugars no more often than once or twice a day.
The Michigan researchers found that the group that kept close watch on their blood sugar levels was about half as likely to develop neuropathy as those who checked their blood sugars only once or twice a day. Even when "tightly controlled" diabetics slipped into a more casual approach to monitoring blood sugars, they continued to benefit by having had at least a few years of lower blood sugar levels that they did not allow ever to go high.
Of course, many type 2 diabetics hardly test their blood sugar levels at all. To avoid neuropathy and other diabetic complications, however, it's enormously beneficial to know at all times whether diabetes treatment is on track. Simply taking your blood sugar levels four times a day can stop complications before they ever start.
Albers JW, Herman WH, Pop-Busui R, Feldman EL, Martin CL, Cleary PA, Waberski BH, Lachin JM; Diabetes Control and Complications Trial /Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications Research Group. Effect of prior intensive insulin treatment during the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial (DCCT) on peripheral neuropathy in type 1 diabetes during the Epidemiology of Diabetes Interventions and Complications (EDIC) Study. Diabetes Care. 2010 May;33(5):1090-6. Epub 2010 Feb 11.