Why Can’t Diabetics Use Heating Pads?
Heating pads are truly a great help when you feel cold or body pain. However, if you have diabetes, don’t even try to use one on any part of your body without consulting your doctor. Why is that?
Diabetic people suffer from peripheral neuropathy, which then makes them less sensitive to pain, which is why can’t diabetics use heating pads. Nevertheless, don’t worry. We’ll give you tips and guidelines on how to use them safely, plus alternative ways to relieve those back, neck, and shoulder pains.
What Is Neuropathy?
One of the causes of having neuropathy is diabetes. This is a kind of disease that results in the malfunctioning and weakness or numbness of nerves.
Diabetics commonly suffer from joint pain. This is why you can’t just allow your loved ones with diabetes to use a heating pad, particularly the electric type as it may lead to burning their own skin.
Then again, there surely are proper and safe ways to use heating pads for body pain. Before we discuss those methods, though, let’s first talk more about why can’t diabetics use heating pads.
Why Can’t Diabetics Use Heating Pads?
Don’t get upset if your doctor won’t allow you to use a heating pad for that body pain. Because diabetics are known to have numb nerves and low sensitivity to pain, they’re just preventing the risk of getting your skin burned.
If you’ve noticed, people with diabetes have a very slow process of healing their wounds, which is especially true if and when the wound is infected. In fact, some cases may even lead to amputation.
Another reason why diabetics can’t use heating pads is that they may not feel the real temperature of the device. Soaking the whole body or even just the feet in a hot tub is not recommended too, as they may think or feel they’re getting just a little warm of it.
Some may think that electric heating pads are safe to use as it has an auto shut-off feature, but they tend to malfunction too. With that said, how do diabetic people treat their body pain?
Safety Tips When Using Heating Pads
Due to damaged nerves, diabetic people usually suffer from cramps as well as joints and body pain, particularly in the legs and arms. Although heating pads are NOT advisable to use for diabetic people, some insist on continuing to use one.
Here are the tips that you can do to use it safely:
- Buffer your skin by placing thick towels in between your skin and the heating pad.
- When using a heating pad or heating blanket, don’t ever use it on your skin with over 100 F temperature.
- If you have open wounds, never apply heat or cold treatment as that may cause slower healing of wounds.
- Don’t sleep with a heating pad on, particularly electric types. This may cause your skin to get burnt when it accidentally malfunctions.
- When using a heating pad on any part of your body, monitor your skin. Remember, diabetics tend to lose sensation on some parts of their body at times. So, make sure to check your skin every few minutes.
- When using a heating pad regardless of the type, be mindful and ALWAYS use it with caution.
How to Properly Use a Heating Pad
It is said that heating pads are not to be used by people with diabetes, especially the ones who suffer from neuropathy. However, there are some doctors who still allow their patients to use a heating pad to relieve muscle or body pain but with precautions and close monitoring.
If you have neuropathy, but you’re reliant to using a heating pad for treating your body pain, make sure to follow your doctor’s orders correctly. In case you need reminders, here are the guidelines or the proper ways to use a heating pad:
- Determine where the pain is coming from before wearing a heating pad. If you’re feeling the pain from the neck, then it is better to use a heating pad that’s designed for the neck.
- For back pain, position your back by slowly lying flat on the heating pad. Again, if you have neuropathy, make sure to check your skin every few minutes to avoid skin burn. In addition, don’t forget to place a cloth between the heating pad and your back. Lie on it for no more than an hour.
- For shoulder pain, there is also a heating pad designed for it. However, in case you have the regular type, just lie down flat on your back on a firm surface and place the heating pad on the back of your shoulders. If you’re using an electric heating pad, set it to medium heat only.
- For gallbladder or menstrual pain, using a heating pad is a great pain relief too. Just place the heating pad on top of your abdomen and set it to medium heat. Extend the heating pad by moving it sidewards where the gallbladder is located to distribute the heat evenly.
If you’re not comfortable with the idea of using heat to relieve your body of pains, you can also try to treat your body pain in natural ways. Here are some suggestions:
- Practice and maintain good posture.
- Since diabetics commonly suffer from foot or leg pain, always wear comfortable shoes or slippers. We suggest wearing low-heeled or flat shoes.
- Exercise daily to prevent back pain. Having a proper diet and daily exercise is truly good for everyone, after all.
- Take over-the-counter medication like pain killers in case the pain is not going away after some stretching or using a heating pad. Consult your doctor if symptoms persist.
- Never apply the heating pad directly onto the skin.
- Don’t use it for more than an hour straight unless prescribed by your physician.
Heating pads provide us with many reasons why they’re helpful and beneficial to use. However, it is unfortunate that some people are not allowed to use them for body pain. Most doctors’ advice is not to use heating pads on diabetics, particularly those with neuropathy as it may be risky and may cause burning of the skin.
Again, once a diabetic person gets wounded, it takes a long time to heal, or worse, the wound gets infected. Therefore, before using any sort of heating pad, consult your doctor first. He can also suggest other methods to treat body pain.