PCOS/Insulin Resistance Support - IR and Neuropathy/foot pain

View Full Version : IR and Neuropathy/foot pain

01-20-2013, 03:48 PM
I'm new- I was diagnosed last March with IR. About 20 years ago, I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, after 8 years and 100+ lbs of weight gain and eventually sleeping up to 17 hours a day and everything else that goes with it. Doctor I had at the time never did figure out to run a blood test, and I didn't know any better. An associate found the issue, and I promptly dropped a whopping 10 lbs when they put me on meds.
Anyway, about the time I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, I was also diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

As things have gone, and the weight loss has been a roller coaster and hard won to keep 45 lbs off (and still have 50-60 to go), I have begun to wonder if it was never Fibromyalgia at all, but IR all along. I was certainly enough of a junk food junkie to develop it. Two years ago, I had a total abdominal hysterectomy, due to a large mass and cysts.

When my GYN told me I was IR last year, he said my numbers weren't too terribly bad, and I could try diet to control it. So I went back to relatively low carbs and dropped 25 lbs (that I had regained in the first place). I went for bloodwork in Dec. and had my appt this last week- my numbers are not down.
Christmas season was tough, and I didn't stick with what I know, but I did not gain much, only about 2 lbs. But I had gone back to that devil, sugar.

Now, I'm sort of better with the sugar, I know what I need to do, but I've been only half committed to actually doing it.

What has been a common theme is neuropathy and foot pain. All along. Only it's gotten progressively worse in the last few months. Doc offered to put me on a low dose of Metformin, to which my first reaction was "no!".
I want OFF prescription meds, not on more!

However, as I sit here, spending yet another weekend NOT doing what I need or want to be doing because my feet hurt so bad, I found myself here, hoping that y'all might have some insight I can use.

If I go with the Metformin, will the foot pain go away? Will I finally be able to get my fingers and toes warm? Does it mean I have to stay on it forever, or would continued weight loss (I'm 48, it's a struggle to get it off) mean that eventually I could get off Metformin and remain symptom free?

Any input you have is most welcome. I just don't know what to do, but this is intolerable. I have life to live, paintings to paint, horses to ride, and all I want to do is stay curled up in bed!

01-20-2013, 04:02 PM
* was going to ETA that I try to eat organic as much as I can, use coconut oil and local honey...and then stumble and eat a chemical-laden Little Debbie's Oatmeal creme pie or something...but those stumbles are not often. Not much of a meat eater, don't eat beef or pork unless it's wild hog.

01-21-2013, 11:13 AM
IR and neuropathy are secondary effects of diabetes. Have you been tested for it? What was your A1C number?

Metformin balances your blood sugar in your system and if you're taking it and things improve in your body you may get rid of the neuropathy. The neuropathy, if I understand correctly, is your body's response to too much glucose in your body, so your nerve cells aren't working correctly and causing the pain in your foot. It's common in untreated diabetics, not just IR folks, which is why I'm worried your doctor hasn't been giving you the best advice.

Is he an endocrinologist?

Going on Metformin can be a life-long decision if you want it to be or you can get off it. The thing about Metformin is that it's trying to help your cells metabolize the glucose in your blood system because your pancreas is not producing the right amount of insulin.

So, if you stick to a strict diet that will help you lose weight and NOT spike your blood sugar, then yes, you can get off Metformin.

01-21-2013, 12:05 PM
thanks, Rana,
I do not know what my numbers are. Doc is my GYN and told me that my insulin was at 10, if that makes any sense?
I will get my bloodwork results and then I can at least share what it says. I began seeing him early last year, and he immediately ran the insulin test on me where you sit there and drink that orange syrup and they draw blood over an extended period of time (I don't know what the test is called).

At the time, he believed I could control this through diet. He still does, and indeed, I have been pretty careful (save December), and dropped 25 lbs in 2012. But December's numbers may or may not be the best indicator, since I WAS blowing it, entirely, for the month, and that's when I had blood tests again. I'm on a more even keel, but still not streamlining the way I ate, like I had been. It just never occurred to me that my foot pain and numbness might be something other than thyroid related.

My previous GYN passed away, and the GP I was using for years sold out...for lack of a better way to put it, he used to be a decent doctor, I think. But I wound up with several unattended issues and he laughed it off and ignored me, then washed his hands of me as fast as he could when I complained of abdominal pain..which turned out to be pressure from a near-football sized tumor on my uterus.
Which is how I wound up with my now-deceased GYN, who could not believe that GP hadn't noticed when he pushed around on my belly. He actually said, "I am embarrassed for my profession". In my opinion, the world lost a damn fine doctor when he passed. Which led my to my current GYN, who I believe is also a good doctor.
The doc who never found the hypothyroidism has not been my doc in 15 years.

Neuropathy, as I understand it, is also related to hypothyroidism- I've had it for 15-20 years-ish, but it's worse than it used to be, and I do notice that it intensity varies, depending on my sugar consumption. My trouble is avoiding the cravings for carbs when I already feel diminished.

I'm finding a lot of anecdotal information saying that the foot pain can also be related to IR- but granted, that is anecdotal. I find, though, that folks in their frustration will share what docs don't tell or maybe don't know yet, and a few years down the road, then it's common knowledge. Meanwhile, sufferers continue to suffer, in all too many cases.

No, I haven't been diagnosed with diabetes.
My hope is that while the Metformin does it's job, maybe I can focus on my diet without the pain to make me feel diminished while I do so. The one person I know who is on Metformin never showed any symptoms of IR, and hasn't noticed any change, except in labwork numbers.

01-22-2013, 11:28 AM
Hi Aianah --the label on the 10 matters!

Because if your A1C is a 10, then that means you're a diabetic. And your doctor needs to get you to an endocrinologist ASAP so they can recommend a course of treatment options especially if the neuropathy is affecting your foot -- and to determine if it's your hypothyrodism or not.

Also, a lot of women with PCOS end up hypothyroid but there seems to be a connecting between lack of vitamin D and magnesium. You may want to read up on it and ask your doctor for tests so you can determine if you need supplementation.

I did and I live in a relatively sunny climate.

The carb cravings are terrible -- I suffer through them myself when I let myself eat too many of them -- but it is worth it. Once you get past that first week or two of headaches, being uncomfortable, and so on, you won't get cravings anymore.

And it's not about ending everything cold turkey unless you have the fortitude to do that. I did it in baby steps and now I can't imagine how I used to eat the way that I did, even though it took a few years to get here.

Also, about showing symptoms -- EVERYONE is different. My IR symptoms were not standard either, but my endocrinologist could tell. And once he told me what they were, I was really sad that I didn't know because I could have gotten treatment earlier had I known it.

If you can, get to an endocrinologist, preferably a reproductive one because he'll know about women and PCOS.

01-22-2013, 12:15 PM
thanks, ma'am- I called yesterday and the nurse said she'd send my lab work results to me, so I should have that in a couple of days. I'm just parroting a number the doc related. I have no idea what precedes it on paper, I just know he told me my sugar and insulin were elevated, but not to the point of being diabetic.

I started 500mg of ER metformin this morning (with breakfast) and so far I mostly feel woozy-headed.
I've taken magnesium for years, to help me sleep- long before I learned how important it was to thyroid function. Since I took that insulin test, Doc has had me on 6,000 units of Vitamin D, which helps a lot. I had been thinking, in the last handful of years, that I needed to look at one of the full-spectrum lights for light therapy. And I live on the Gulf Coast of Texas- but the D helps, just not quite enough. I also take Iodine, and have learned the hard way that it does truly improve how I function.

I, too, have found that changing how I eat is a one-at-a-time item transition, rather than an all at once lifestyle change. I mentioned in another thread, I used to drink a 6 pack of Dr. Pepper a day. I was late 20s and very active and 125 lbs. Well, then all that changed.
I can't handle a single Dr. Pepper now, nor do I want to!
a sweet drink for me is ice tea with half, or less, the sugar of most sweet teas.

I believe in, and keep on hand, dark leafy greens, hormone free cheeses, nuts, some fruit on occasion. Fish when I can get it fresh caught (thank heavens for fishermen and hunter friends!). I'm big on organics and non GMOs and I don't eat much in the way of prepackaged foods- no cereals, seldom bread or crackers, I just don't eat that way anymore.

I don't know anything about PCOS, but having had a total hysterectomy, I didn't think it was anything for me to worry about, and when I did have all my working parts, I had never heard of it- it certainly may have been playing a role. I'll never know.

01-22-2013, 02:18 PM
Well, the thing about PCOS is that it isn't about your ovaries!

So many people do, because "Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome" seems to indicate the problem is in the ovaries. But the cysts are a symptom of the disease, rather than the actual disease itself. Eliminating the girlie parts isn't going to fix the underlying issue.

Maybe that's why this is such a hard disease to treat -- because there isn't one pinpoint problem that you can take out, fix, or whatever. It's a series of things that have to be observed, tweaked, changed, experimented on, and then re-observed, re-tweaked, and on and on and on.

Right now, the latest and greatest on PCOS studies believe it's an issue in the endocrine system -- which would explain the hormones levels being out of whack, the IR, and the association with hypothyroidism....

01-22-2013, 02:33 PM
well, that's interesting. It might explain why I had female issues to begin with. I wonder if IR, PCOS, and hypothyroidism are all triggered by the same things, and not truly separate issues at all.

01-22-2013, 03:01 PM
I recommend some online reading by PCOS Diva: http://pcosdiva.com/

Her blog has some really interesting information.

01-22-2013, 04:59 PM
I will go read, thank you.

01-23-2013, 07:16 PM
Okay, I have my results.
My glucose serum in Dec. was 93 and my A1C was 5.2
He ran a comprehensive metabolic panel. What else do I need to know about these numbers? I don't know what the 10 was that he was referring to, I don't see any 10 on here...maybe I misheard.

01-23-2013, 07:17 PM
ah..my insulin was 10.1

01-23-2013, 10:42 PM
Yay! Your A1C is in the normal range, so you're right -- no diabetes!

Your glucose serum, though, is slightly elevated (not diabetic) and that will go down when your lose weight.

I think you just have to see if the Metformin will do it's job on you and just keep reading about PCOS and doing your testing on different stuff in your body.

01-23-2013, 10:47 PM
thanks! I'm pretty relieved, too, to actually see the numbers and have some feedback as to what they mean. Maybe the next 25 lbs will see me back to normal levels.
I'm actually pretty excited about that, because once I drop another 9 lbs, I'll be lighter than I have been since the late 1990s. I was in better overall condition, I worked for a nursery and had muscles on muscles..lol

I'm just hoping the Metformin helps with the foot pain and neuropathy (although I've read it can cause it, too). Then I can start taking walks again, like I used to. And get on my pony. And I want to draw- and it's hard to want to do it with numb fingers.

01-25-2013, 11:48 AM
Good luck! I hope the Metformin helps, but if you think it's causing it, maybe mention it to your doctor?

01-25-2013, 11:53 AM
no, it's not causing it. I've only been on metformin for three days. So far it's causing mild nausea and horrible headaches. He put me on it in an attempt to alleviate the neuropathy and pain.

01-25-2013, 01:12 PM
This is so interesting. I rarely go to the doctor because I am uninsured due to a life long disease, sarcoidosis. I started having episodes of gout about 2 yr. ago but my dad and brother had this too. The only thing that worked for me was 4 ibuprofen 3 times a day for several days. Recently, I have constant pressure on the ball of my feet but I thought it was related to the gout. As long as it doesn't hurt I just ignore it. I have found that celery caps help with the gout. I am 63. But my feet hurt a little most days. I still exercise. When the gout is really bad I can hardly walk but that hasn't been the case since the celery.

01-25-2013, 05:28 PM
Carol, what I thought I had was plantar fasciitis. But months later and tons of stretches, it hadn't improved at all. This has been like standing on kaliche when I get up in the morning!

01-25-2013, 05:28 PM
oh- regular celery? As in eating it? I eat tons of celery..

01-25-2013, 07:12 PM
oh- regular celery? As in eating it? I eat tons of celery..That would be fine but I take celery seed capsules. I'm just wondering what that neuropathy thing is. I've had plantar fascitis, too, and it finally goes away. I got it the first time when I was exercising barefoot. Learned my lesson.

01-26-2013, 02:49 PM
hypothyroidism can cause neuropathy. I don't know this for sure, but it would make sense that when you couple that with IR, the possibility would increase?