Pain can be a very useful tool for our body to tell us that something is wrong, or that we need to protect ourselves. Pain signals from our hand when we accidentally touch the stove prevents a more serious burn. Pain signals from our sprained ankle encourage us to rest until healing has started.
But sometimes nerves can send pain signals when the nerve itself is faulty. Nerve damage or neuropathy can occur when the myelin sheath around the nerve cells deteriorates – think of the insulation layer around the electric cables feeding your toaster or your computer. As the nerve damage gets worse, they nerve might stop functioning (numbness) or might start sending false signals (tingling, itching or pain). Crumbling insulation means the wire can short-circuit.
High blood sugar levels damage the longest nerves first – such as those supplying your feet and hands. Some studies suggest that Carnitine may help to reduce pain and numbness, or even help nerves to regenerate.