How Diabetes and Nerve Damage are Connected


May 23, 2023

Half of all people living with diabetes suffer from nerve damage, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC.) Medical professionals may call it diabetic neuropathy, and the symptoms may range from slight tingling sensations to intense, debilitating pain.

If you’re suffering from diabetes and nerve damage, you’re in the right place. Today, the Southeast Pain & Spine Care team will introduce you to the four primary types of diabetic neuropathy. Then, we’ll explain when to contact us for pain management. If you have questions about nerve damage and diabetes, don’t hesitate to contact us.

How Does Diabetes Cause Nerve Damage?

High blood sugar causes damage to blood vessels, and the nearby nerve cells don’t get the nutrition and hydration they need. Over time, they become damaged, and the results can be very uncomfortable.

The 4 Primary Types of Nerve Damage Associated with Diabetes

The most common types of nerve damage associated with diabetes include:

  • Peripheral nerve damage
  • Proximal nerve damage
  • Autonomic nerve damage
  • And focal nerve damage

Per CDC, many individuals with diabetes have more than one type of nerve damage. It is possible that you — or a loved one with diabetes — are coping with several types of nerve damage at once.

Peripheral Nerve Damage

Best described as a feeling of “pins and needles” in feet and hands, this type of nerve damage usually begins in both feet around the same time. Individuals might also present with the following:

  • Pain or increased sensitivity at night
  • Serious foot problems, like ulcers and sores
  • General numbness or weakness

Foot care is especially vital for individuals with diabetes and nerve damage because they may not feel sores or ulcers. Daily foot inspections are important for this type of nerve damage.

Proximal Nerve Damage

This type of nerve damage usually causes pain in the thighs, buttocks, hips and legs. It can also cause pain in the stomach or chest. If you struggle to get up from a sitting position and have diabetes, you might have this type of nerve damage.

Autonomic Nerve Damage

People with diabetes and this type of nerve damage tend to experience:

  • Nausea, vomiting and a decreased appetite
  • Issues with bladder and bowel movements
  • Decreased sexual drive

Focal Nerve Damage

Focal nerve damage affects individual nerves. Individuals with diabetes and nerve damage may report:

Now, you’re wondering how to manage diabetes and nerve damage. Let’s explore this briefly.

Controlling Your Blood Sugar is the Only Way to Prevent Nerve Damage

Many people discover they have nerves when they are diagnosed with diabetes. It may be their double vision, “pins and needles” experiences, or nausea caused by nerve damage that finally leads them to the hospital.

And unfortunately, we don’t know much about nerve regeneration yet (but that technology is on the horizon.)

The good news is that you can prevent further nerve damage by controlling your blood sugar through diet, exercise and insulin. And treatments for pain are readily available.

What Treatments Are Available & When to Seek Them

No one should live in constant pain. At Southeast Pain & Spine Care, we help patients all around North Carolina get the pain treatments they deserve.

Whether you need pain medications, nerve blocks, or something more complicated, our mission is to help you stay comfortable and avoid surgery whenever possible. Book your appointment today if you’re living with diabetes and nerve damage in North Carolina. We’re here to help.

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