What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic Neuropathy is the damage to nerves in the hands and feet from diabetes. This damage is more likely in patients who have had diabetes for many years, although some patients develop neuropathy earlier. As many as 50% of patients with Diabetes will develop neuropathy.
What are the symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy?
There are two primary symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy: Pain and Numbness.
Painful Diabetic Neuropathy may include the following symptoms:
- Burning pain
- Pain worst at night when trying to sleep
Numbness from Diabetic Neuropathy usually begins at the tips of the toes and can spread up the feet and legs over a period of years, particularly in patients with poorly controlled Diabetes.
Other symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy include:
- Dry skin
- Brittle Toenails
- Toe deformities such as hammertoes and bunions
What causes Diabetic Neuropathy?
Blood sugar levels that are high can lead to Diabetic Neuropathy. Other factors found in diabetic neuropathy include high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
High blood sugar, high cholesterol and high blood pressure combine to affect the tiny arteries that supply nutrition to the nerve fibers in the feet, causing damage to these nerve fibers.
How do you diagnose Diabetic Neuropathy?
A history of diabetes, pain at night to both feet, pain with walking, and numbness help in the diagnosis of Diabetic Neuropathy.
A Podiatrist will also test your nerves using specific nerve testing instruments such as a monofilament and tuning fork.
A simple skin biopsy test is useful in differentiating Diabetic Neuropathy from other nerve disorders. This is a 5-minute test that is done in our office, and the results are usually available within a week of the test.
How do you treat Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic Neuropathy doesn't have to be painful or debilitating. There are medical treatments that can relieve symptoms, improve the feeling in your feet and possibly restore normal nerve function.
Prescription medicines for Diabetic Neuropathy that help symptoms include Gabapentin, Lyrica, Amitryptilene, and Cymbalta.
Supplements such as Metanx, Vitamin B complex, and Alpha Lipoic Acid have been shown to improve nerve health and function.
Patients who bring their blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol under control also often see improvement in symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy and improved nerve function.
Infrared light treatment has also shown to improve nerve function and decrease symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.
MLS laser therapy (cold laser) has been shown reduce pain and improve feeling in diabetic neuropathy. We offer MLS laser therapy in our office. Read more about MLS laser therapy here
What are the risks associated with Diabetic Neuropathy?
If ignored, Diabetic Neuropathy can result in changes to your foot that can be detrimental to your health, including the development of ulcerations (open sores) to the skin of your feet. Ulcerations can lead to other more serious problems such as infection and amputation.
If you suspect you have Diabetic Neuropathy, get your feet checked. When it comes to Diabetic Neuropathy and your feet, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure. Get to a Podiatrist for a comprehensive Diabetic foot exam. In or near Casa Grande, Arizona schedule an appointment with Dr. Clement.