Diabetic neuropathy is the result of nerve damage caused by diabetes. Diabetes is also a major cause of neuropathy that affects half of all diabetics!
Diabetic neuropathy most commonly affects the nerves in the feet and hands. High blood glucose levels and level of lipids in the blood can lead to nerve damage over time. Most patients with diabetic neuropathy are unaware they have nerve damage until the doctor notice it during a regular examination or when complications arise.
Types of diabetic neuropathy
- Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type and usually affects the feet and legs, but can also affect the arms.
- Autonomic neuropathy damages the nerves that control your internal organs, causing problems with your blood pressure, digestive system, etc.
- Focal neuropathies characterized by the injury of a single nerve, most commonly affecting the hand, head, trunk, or leg.
- Proximal neuropathy is a rare type of nerve damage in the hip, buttock or thigh. The damage usually affects one side of the body.
Symptoms depend on the type of diabetic neuropathy you have.
About one third to one half of diabetics have peripheral neuropathy. Symptoms vary from person to person! But the most common symptoms are numbness, tingling, and discomfort. Symptoms may develop on both feet at the same time.
Furthermore, almost half of the patients experience significant foot pain and increased sensitivity to pain! Neuropathic pain is frequently greater at night resulting in disrupting sleep patterns, and these symptoms can have a significant impact on health and wellness for the following reasons:
- Weakness causes foot abnormalities such as hammer toes and bunions.
- Damage to the foot may go unnoticed due to numbness.
- They can all contribute to the formation of a foot ulcer.
Causes of diabetic neuropathy
High blood levels of glucose and lipids are one of the main causes of neuropathy. Studies have shown that controlling blood glucose level in people with type 1 diabetes can reduce neuropathy by 60%, while this percentage decreases in people with diabetes from Type 2, but controlling lipid levels may reduce the incidence of nerve damage in people with type 2 diabetes.
Diabetic neuropathy treatment
Unfortunately, damaged nerves cannot be repaired, but your doctor may prescribe pain relievers. However, the risk of further foot problems can also be minimized by:
- Checking the feet regularly for any early signs such as cracks in the skin, signs of infection or deformity.
- See a podiatrist as soon as you notice a problem, because treating foot ulcers early increases your chances of healing.
- Maintaining healthy feet and nails
- Choosing the right socks and shoes for your feet
- Avoiding activities that may injure the feet
- Ensuring that your shoes are free of stones, sticks and other foreign objects before wearing them
Prevention of diabetic neuropathy
- Maintain the blood sugar levels within your target range
- Exercise regularly.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Quit smoking.
- Maintaining blood pressure and blood lipids at a healthy level by changing the diet and adhering to the medications prescribed by the doctor.
- Consult a podiatrist immediately when any symptoms appear such as pain, numbness or tingling in your hands or feet.
- Examination of the feet at least once a year by a podiatrist at Health and Style Medical Center.