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Your Guide to Diabetic Neuropathy

Your Guide to Diabetic Neuropathy

November marks American Diabetes Month. This is a time to educate individuals about the various types of diabetes, the effects of diabetes, and ways to manage diabetes. There are multiple ways diabetes can impact someone, including a common condition called diabetic neuropathy.

What is Diabetic Neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur in individuals with diabetes. Throughout time, an individual's blood sugar can rise to dangerous levels and damage nerves throughout the body. Those diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy typically have pain in their feet and legs, but it can also impact the hands, arms, digestive system, heart, and sex organs.

It’s estimated that 50% of individuals diagnosed with diabetes will experience diabetic neuropathy as well, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Types of Diabetic Neuropathy

There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy:

  • Peripheral Neuropathy. This is the most common type of diabetic neuropathy that impacts nerves in one’s feet and legs. Symptoms can include pain, tingling, sensitivity to touch, or numbness in the feet or legs.
  • Autonomic Neuropathy. This type of diabetic neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions involving digestion, heart rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms can include:
    • Changes in blood pressure (either high or low);
    • Hypoglycemia unawareness (which is the unawareness of an individual’s blood sugar levels);
    • Difficulty swallowing;
    • Incontinence;
    • Diarrhea or constipation;
    • Sweating (either increased or decreased);
    • Sexual dysfunction; and,
    • Dizziness upon standing.
  • Proximal Neuropathy. Individuals with proximal neuropathy face pains in nerves connected to someone's thighs, hips, or buttocks. With this diagnosis, someone will typically feel pain in their affected area.
  • Focal Neuropathy. This type of diabetic neuropathy can affect any nerve in the body but is most common in the face, torso, or legs. Symptoms can include double vision, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body and pain in the affected area.

Diabetic neuropathy can lead to further health problems. People with diabetic neuropathy are at risk for the following:

  • Foot ulcers;
  • Amputations;
  • Heart disease; and,
  • Stroke.

Treatment for Diabetic Neuropathy

There is no cure for diabetic neuropathy, but there are treatments that can help manage the symptoms. Treatment options include:

  • Pain Relief. Over-the-counter pain relievers, including ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help relieve mild pain. Prescription medications may be necessary for more severe pain.
  • Blood Sugar Control. Maintaining good blood sugar control is essential for managing diabetic neuropathy. This can be done through diet, exercise, and medication.
  • Vitamins. Taking vitamin B6, vitamin B12, or alpha-lipoic acid supplements may help improve symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
  • Exercise. Exercise can help improve blood circulation and reduce pain. It is critical to talk to a doctor before starting an exercise program.
  • Electric Cell Signaling. This type of treatment delivers energy waves to where you have pain, tingling, or numbness. The energy waves target these areas and treat them at the source.
  • Surgery. Surgery is sometimes an option to relieve pressure on nerves or correct other problems causing pain.

By implementing one or more of these treatments, individuals with diabetic neuropathy can help relieve their symptoms and prevent further complications.

When Should I Contact a Doctor About Diabetic Neuropathy?

If you have diabetes, it is essential to be proactive and talk to your doctor if you begin feeling any pain or tingling that you haven’t experienced before. Treatment can help relieve symptoms and prevent further complications.

To best manage your diabetic neuropathy, reach out to the dedicated team at American Pain Consortium. Our experienced team will create a customized plan to treat your diabetic neuropathy conditions. Contact us online or by phone to set up your appointment: (888) 615-2726.