What is Diabetic Neuropathy and Its Symptoms
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can happen if you have diabetes. High blood sugar (glucose) damages nerves throughout the body, though it most commonly affects the hands and feet. As many as 50 percent of people who have diabetes also have diabetic neuropathy.
If you were recently diagnosed with diabetes, you likely have questions about neuropathy and how it can affect you. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent neuropathy or slow its progression. Below you’ll find more information about diabetic neuropathy, its symptoms and your treatment options.
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a complication of diabetes. Although the exact cause is not known, it’s believed that several factors contribute to neuropathy, including high blood sugar, metabolic factors and inherited factors.
For instance, when your blood sugar is high, it causes chemical changes in the nerves and stops them from transmitting signals. It can also damage blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.
Also, people who are overweight or have high triglyceride cholesterol levels are more likely to develop neuropathy. If you have diabetes, neuropathy can occur at any time. In fact, it might even be the first sign that you have diabetes.
What are the Symptoms of Neuropathy?
There are four main types of neuropathy: peripheral neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, proximal neuropathy and mononeuropathy. The symptoms you experience depend on the type of neuropathy you have (you can have more than one type). For example, some types of neuropathy affect the hands and feet first, while others cause damage to a specific, single nerve.
Here are the main signs of diabetic neuropathy:
- Reduced ability to feel pain
- Tingling or burning
- Sharp pains or cramps
- Muscle weakness
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Serious foot problems like ulcers
- Increased or decreased sweating
Treatment Options for Diabetic Neuropathy
There is no known cure for diabetic neuropathy. Rather, the goals of treatment are to slow progression, relieve pain and manage complications.
To slow progression, you’ll need to keep your blood sugar levels under control. This is key to minimizing nerve damage. You will work with your doctor to determine the best target range based on your age, overall health and how long you’ve had diabetes.
If you’re already experiencing pain from diabetes, your doctor will recommend treatment. Treatment often includes anti-seizure drugs and antidepressants. Lifestyle changes and alternative treatments can also be helpful, such as exercise and managing stress levels.
Finally, your treatment plan will include managing complications and restoring function. The treatment you’ll need depends on the complications you’re having, such as urinary tract problems, digestive problems and low blood pressure.
Learn More about Treating Diabetic Neuropathy
If you are currently struggling with symptoms from diabetic neuropathy, contact Jersey Rehab for an appointment. We focus on decreasing pain and better managing our clients’ symptoms – and we can do the same for you! Sometimes a new perspective is what you need to get your symptoms under control.