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The Link Between Diabetes and Neuropathy

diabetic neuropathy

The Link Between Diabetes and Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a widespread complication of diabetes. It occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the nerves. Diabetic neuropathy can cause a range of symptoms, from mild to severe. Sometimes, it can lead to serious problems, such as foot ulcers and amputations. Fortunately, there are options available that can help relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

What is Diabetic Neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur in people with diabetes. People with diabetes can develop nerve damage anywhere in the body, but it most often happens in the legs and feet because they are farthest from the heart. This is why diabetic neuropathy is also called peripheral neuropathy. 

There are 4 Types of Diabetic Neuropathy: 

1. Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral Neuropathy is the most common type of diabetic neuropathy. It affects the nerves in the toes, feet, legs, hands, and arms. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, pain, and weakness in these areas. 

2. Autonomic Neuropathy

This type of neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, digestion, and sweating. Symptoms include orthostatic hypotension (a sudden drop in blood pressure when standing up), dizziness upon standing, constipation or diarrhea, urinary difficulties (including incontinence), and erectile dysfunction in men. 

3. Proximal Neuropathy

This type of neuropathy affects the nerves in the thighs, hips, or buttocks. Symptoms include pain or weakness in these areas. 

4. Focal Neuropathy 

This type of neuropathy comes on suddenly and affects specific nerves or groups of nerves. Symptoms vary depending on which nerves are affected but may include weakness or paralysis in certain muscles, pain in one area of the body; double vision; changes in pupil size; or loss of sensation in certain parts of the body such as the hands or feet. 

someone holding their foot due to numbness and tingling caused by peripheral neuropathy

Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy

The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can range from mild to severe and depend on which nerves are affected. Some people have no symptoms at all, while others may experience pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness that can make everyday activities difficult to do. In some cases, symptoms may come on suddenly, while in others, they may develop gradually over time. 

Complications from Diabetic Neuropathy 

Diabetic neuropathy can lead to several complications such as foot ulcers (sores), infections, and amputations; autonomic nervous system problems such as gastrointestinal disorders; urinary tract infections; and sexual dysfunction. 

Foot ulcers are a severe complication because they can lead to infection, sometimes resulting in amputation if not treated promptly and adequately. Fortunately, there are options available that can help prevent or treat these complications. 

4 Ways to Manage the Pain

1. Improve your blood sugar levels. 

Controlling your blood sugar levels is the most important thing you can do to manage diabetic neuropathy pain. Keeping your blood sugar levels under control will help prevent further damage to your nerves and may even help reverse some of the damage that has already occurred.

2. Take care of your feet. 

Diabetic neuropathy can cause loss of sensation in your feet, which increases your risk for foot ulcers and amputations. To help prevent these complications, you should inspect your feet daily for cuts, sores, or blisters. You should also wear shoes and socks that fit well and protect your feet from injury.

3. Exercise regularly. 

Exercise can help improve blood sugar control and increase nerve function. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Walking, biking, swimming, and light weightlifting are all excellent options.

4. Manage stress levels. 

Stress can make diabetic neuropathy pain worse, so it’s essential to find ways to relax and de-stress regularly. Some relaxation techniques may help include yoga, Tai Chi, meditation, and deep breathing exercises. 

Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes that occurs when high blood sugar levels damage the nerves. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, including pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness. Diabetic neuropathy can also lead to severe complications such as foot ulcers, infections, and amputations. Solutions, like our state-of-the-art program, are available that can help relieve symptoms and improve your quality of life. If you have diabetes, monitoring your feet for signs of neuropathy is crucial to be proactive in preventing complications.

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