Our body has twelve pairs of cranial nerves that send electrical and chemical signals from one part of our body to another. These signals carry information, telling us when we’re moving or where there’s pain. These signals are crucial, and when damaged, can cause weakness, pain, tingling, and disruption in transmitted signals.
What Is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that occurs in over 50% of diabetics. Over time, high levels of glucose and fat can damage nerves, especially in the legs and feet. This condition can be disabling, causing parts of the body to lose sensation and go numb. Symptoms of this condition depend on one of the four types of diabetic neuropathy; peripheral, autonomic, proximal, or mononeuropathy.
- Peripheral neuropathy is the most common and usually affects the feet and legs first, followed by the arms and hands.
- Autonomic neuropathy impacts the autonomic nervous system that controls the heart, eyes, bladder, stomach, intestines, and sex organs.
- Proximal neuropathy affects nerves in the thigh, hips, buttocks, legs, and possibly the chest, often starting on one side of the body and spreading to the other.
- Mononeuropathy refers to the damage of a specific nerve.
Preventing Diabetic Neuropathy
Once developed, diabetic neuropathy pain is hard to manage without proper care. However, preventing diabetic neuropathy all boils down to various lifestyle changes.
Blood Sugar Monitoring
As recommended by the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes should monitor their blood sugar levels by receiving an AC1 at least twice a year. This test will measure the amount of hemoglobin in the blood with glucose attached to it, providing approximate details of blood sugar levels for the last three months. Outside of this, people can monitor their daily glucose levels on their own time. This number can allow diabetics to properly change their lifestyle through medication or exercise to meet their goal blood sugar levels.
Sores that won’t heal and ulcers are common complications of diabetic neuropathy and can transpire due to the lack of proper foot care. Checking your feet every day by looking for blisters, cuts, bruises, and any noticeable complications can help you find what needs to be treated sooner. Keeping your feet clean and dry, moisturizing your feet, trimming nails, and wearing shoes and socks that fit well are all methods of preventing many of these complications.
Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment
If diabetic neuropathy gets to a point where it needs to be treated, there are ways to go about it. However, this condition has no cure and the goal of treatment is to relieve any pain, slow progression, and restore function. Most of these changes relate to lifestyle or medication.
The best way to slow the progression of diabetic neuropathy is keeping up with glucose levels and maintaining good blood sugar management. Maintaining your weight, blood pressure, and remaining physically active are other lifestyle changes that slow progression. To relieve diabetic neuropathy pain, anti-seizure drugs and antidepressants may be taken, as these drugs are known to ease nerve pain. Pain-relieving medication may also be taken alongside them.
Restoring function to the body often correlates with what part of the body is affected by diabetic neuropathy, and could result in eating less, avoiding alcohol, drinking more water, and medication change.
Diabetic neuropathy can be dangerous if left untreated, causing debilitating effects that make it hard to navigate through life. We know how crucial it is to stay on our feet, which is why Diablo Foot and Ankle offers professional advice and treatment options for those suffering from diabetic neuropathy. Visit us today to learn more about your condition and treatment options. Let us help you get back on your feet.
Common Podiatry Questions
What is a Podiatrist?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the foot and ankle.
What does a Podiatrist treat?
A podiatrist is a doctor who specializes in the medical and surgical care of the feet. They can treat conditions such as ingrown toenails, fungal toenails, bunions, hammertoes, and plantar fasciitis.
What’s the difference between a Podiatrist and Orthopedist?
A Podiatrist and Orthopedist are very similar to each other in many ways. They use most of the same tools and treat a lot of the same conditions. The main difference between the two is their medical training. Podiatrists are trained exclusively on the foot and ankle, whereas the Orthopedic is trained on the whole body with an additional year of training on the foot and ankle.