Diabetic neuropathy is one of the most anticipated complications of diabetes that causes damage to the nerves. The most experienced symptoms include numbness, tingling, and pain in the feet and hands.
Diabetic neuropathy occurs in about 50 percent of people with diabetes and can affect up to 80 percent of those with long-term diabetes. It’s usually caused by damage to the tiny blood vessels that supply nerves with nutrients and oxygen.
You can manage diabetic neuropathy, but you can’t cure it. The treatment goal is to reduce the pain and symptoms so you can live as independently as possible.
How Is Diabetic Neuropathy Diagnosed?
Diabetic neuropathy often develops gradually, so you might not notice any symptoms until your condition has already progressed significantly. Your doctor will examine your feet and hands and ask you about any pain or numbness you experience while walking or performing other tasks like buttoning a shirt or turning a key in a lock. If they suspect diabetic neuropathy, they may order additional tests to confirm their diagnosis.
The commonly ordered additional test is electrodiagnostic testing, which measures how well your nerves conduct electrical signals — one way for doctors to detect nerve damage. This test can help determine if an injury has damaged specific nerves involved in movement control.
Types of Diabetic Neuropathy
The four types of diabetic neuropathy are;
This type affects your feet and legs, causing numbness, tingling, and pain. It’s the most common form of neuropathy.
This type affects your digestive system, bladder, and other organs. It can cause diarrhea, constipation, and impotence in men.
This type affects your arms and legs, causing muscle weakness and loss of coordination.
Focal (also called focal mononeuropathy)
This type affects a single nerve in one area of your body — such as a finger or toe — causing muscle weakness or loss of sensation in that area only
Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment Options
Diabetic neuropathy can cause many other problems because it affects how well you feel, moves, see and hear. Treatment focuses on controlling blood sugar levels so that nerve damage doesn’t worsen over time.
Treatment for diabetic neuropathy often involves a combination of medications, nutrition, and physical therapy. Based on your overall health and symptoms, your doctor will determine the best course of treatment for you.
Medications for Diabetic Neuropathy
Antidepressants are commonly prescribed for pain relief. Other drugs include anticonvulsants (such as gabapentin), tricyclic antidepressants (such as amitriptyline), and local anesthetics (such as lidocaine).
These drugs can help relieve some of your symptoms, but they don’t prevent further nerve damage. Your doctor may prescribe other medications, depending on what’s causing your pain and other factors such as age, weight, sex, and medical history.
Your physician may advise you to make dietary changes to help reduce the risk of diabetes complications such as heart disease and stroke. Some examples of dietary changes include eating more fruits and vegetables while reducing the amount of fat in your diet (no more than 20% of calories from fat).
Your doctor may also recommend increasing your physical activity by exercising for 30 minutes a day on most days of the week. If you are experiencing challenges controlling your blood glucose levels, consult your doctor about the use of insulin or other medications. These medications can help keep blood glucose levels within a healthy range.
In addition to taking medications, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet can help prevent or delay complications from diabetes. These lifestyle changes can also improve blood sugar control, reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and control weight gain—all of which help manage diabetic neuropathy:
Diabetic neuropathy treatment is determined by the type and severity of your symptoms. You may be able to control your symptoms with medication, diet changes, exercise, or other treatments. It might not be curable, but it is certainly manageable. For more information fill out the form below or contact our team.