People with diabetes often suffer from a type of nerve damage called diabetic neuropathy. Diabetes is caused by excessively high blood sugar levels that can damage nerve fibers. Frequently, diabetics have extensive nerve damage in their feet and legs.
What are the common symptoms of diabetic neuropathy?
diabetic foot ulcer Orange CountySome people have mild symptoms of diabetic neuropathy while others must deal with symptoms that are painful or disabling and, in some situations, life-threatening. Depending on which nerves have been affected, diabetic neuropathy symptoms can include: numbness and pain in the extremities and problems with the urinary tract, digestive system, heart and blood vessels.
There are four basic types of diabetic neuropathy. It’s possible to have symptoms of one type or symptoms of several types combined. Unfortunately, most of them develop so slowly you may not even be aware a problem exists; as a result, significant damage can occur before your diabetic neuropathy is diagnosed.
In instances of peripheral neuropathy, the most prevalent form of diabetic neuropathy, patients are first aware of problems with their legs and feet, followed by symptoms which affect their arms and hands. Signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy may include:
a burning or tingling sensation
numbness or an inability to feel pain or temperature changes, particularly in the toes and feet
jabbing, sharp pain which may worsen at night
difficulty walking, muscles weakening
hypersensitivity to touch so extreme it makes even the slightest contact almost unbearable
foot infections, ulcers, deformities, and joints and bone pain
Your autonomic nervous system regulates your bladder, heart, lungs, intestines, stomach, eyes, and sex organs. When autonomic neuropathy damages nerves in one of these organs, your symptoms may include:
the inability to recognize your blood sugars are too low
uncontrolled diarrhea, constipation, or a combination of both
urinary incontinence or repeated urinary tract infections
sexual problems for women, including vaginal dryness; and erectile dysfunction in men
slow digestion in the stomach, triggering vomiting, nausea, and appetite loss
decreased or increased sweating
sharp decreases in blood pressure
body temperature fluctuations
difficulty adjusting your eyes from dark to light
Radiculoplexus neuropathy specifically affects nerves in the hips, thighs, legs, or buttocks, and occurs most often in older adults and people who have type 2 diabetes. Usually, symptoms are restricted to one side of the body, although sometimes they may spread to the other side as well. Most patients will see some improvement, although their symptoms may get worse before they get better. Typical signs and symptoms include: severe pain that suddenly occurs in the thighs, hips or buttocks; gradual weakness and atrophy of the thigh muscles; difficulty getting up from sitting; and weight loss.
Mononeuropathy is damage to one specific nerve, often in a leg, the torso or the face. Mononeuropathy is most prevalent among in older adults. While it is known to cause severe pain, usually it does not cause persistent problems. Frequently, the symptoms fade and disappear without treatment over a couple of weeks or perhaps months. Depending on the nerves affected, symptoms may include: difficulty focusing and/or double vision; Bell’s palsy (one side of the face becomes paralyzed); a painful foot or shin; painful muscles on the front of the thigh; and abdominal or chest pain.
What is the cause of diabetic neuropathy?
Excessively high blood sugar levels over time can cause damage to nerve fibers and result in diabetic neuropathy. Other factors which increase your odds for diabetic neuropathy include: nerve inflammation, your genetic inheritance, smoking and alcohol abuse.
How is diabetic neuropathy treated?
While we are not able to cure diabetic neuropathy, the proper treatment can slow down its progress, help relieve pain, manage complications, and play an important role in restoring function to damaged parts of your body.
Closely monitoring and tightly managing your blood-sugar levels is key to slowing down the development of peripheral neuropathy, and may even result in an improvement of your symptoms. Keeping blood sugar at the proper level may even reduce your risk of diabetic neuropathy by as much as 60%.
You can slow down nerve damage by carefully following your doctor’s foot-care recommendations. Make sure your blood pressure is under control. Work with your doctor to outline a healthy diet, and stick to it. Getting lots of physical exercise, keeping your weight down, quitting smoking, and limiting your alcohol intake are all important steps to minimize nerve damage.
Pain relief is an important part of maintaining good quality of life. Only certain medications can have an impact nerve pain, although some are known to produce troublesome or even dangerous side effects. Suitable pain relief medications include: anti-seizure and antidepressant medications; lidocaine patches; and opioid medications, such as oxycodone, which, while effective, may come with serious side effects including addiction.
There are number of treatments well known for their ability to help manage complications and restore functionality to damaged areas of the body. Your doctor may recommend them to tackle urinary tract problems, low blood-pressure issues, digestive problems, and various forms of sexual dysfunction.
If you have symptoms that you think could be diabetic neuropathy, it is crucial to see your general doctor to check blood sugars, and also to receive treatment with pain management Orange County trusts.
Call the California Pain Network today at (714) 261-9131 to get connected with a caring, compassionate Orange County pain clinic.