Those who suffer from diabetes are often at a higher risk for developing diabetic neuropathy. This is when nerves are damaged that transmit vital information throughout the body, like feeling pain or controlling muscles and organs. Although there are many ways that diabetes can cause damage to the body’s nerves, a high blood sugar level for an extended period of time seems to be related to them all. Most types of nerve damage from diabetes can be painful, but in many cases the pain isn’t considered to be severe.
The Signs and Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy
With the different types of neuropathy and nerves that can be affected, there can be a wide range of symptoms that people experience with diabetic neuropathy. Some of those that do have nerve damage will not experience any symptoms, while others will.
Generally, the beginning signs of diabetic neuropathy will include tingling, numbness, or pain in both feet. Symptoms can often be minor at first, and in mild cases they can even go unnoticed over several years. The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy will vary and depends on the nerves that are affected with the type of neuropathy.
Types of Neuropathy
The four forms of diabetic neuropathy that affect different functions are peripheral neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, proximal neuropathy, and focal neuropathy. The different symptoms of each form of neuropathy can include:
- Peripheral neuropathy – This type occurs most often, and generally affects the legs and feet first. Possible symptoms can be numbness or inability to feel pain, burning or tingling feeling, sharp pains, difficulty walking due to muscle weakness, pain when standing or walking, or severe issues with the foot like infections, ulcers, joint pain, or deformities.
- Autonomic neuropathy – This form will usually affect the digestive system, but problems can also occur with the heart, lungs, intestines, eyes, and sex organs. The damaged nerves in this system can cause bladder problems with constant infections, diarrhea or constipation, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate, blood pressure problems, inability to regulate body temperature, difficulty swallowing, and many other types of symptoms throughout the body.
- Proximal neuropathy – This is more common with older adults and those who suffer from type 2 diabetes. Proximal neuropathy will generally cause pain on one side of the body, and it can be felt in the hips, thighs, legs, or buttocks. It can also cause weakness in the legs and the need of assistance to stand up from a sitting position.
- Focal neuropathy – This form can suddenly appear and progress quickly with specific nerves. This will usually occur in the torso, head, or legs, which can cause pain and weakness in muscles. Other symptoms may include severe pains in specific areas, abdominal or chest pain, eye pain or double vision, or possibly one side of the face becomes paralyzed.
Treatments for Diabetic Neuropathy
There are currently no known cures for diabetic neuropathy, but treatment will focus on slowing down the progression of the disease, relieving the pain, restoring any lost functions, and managing the complications. To slow progression, the blood sugar level is constantly monitored and kept within the targeted range. This may also cause the symptoms you are currently experiencing to improve. Other methods used to slow down damage of the nerves is to avoid alcohol, stop smoking, maintain a healthy eating plan, physical activity, or by maintaining a healthy weight.
At the Scottsdale Neuropathy Institute, Dr. Jacoby has been successfully treating individuals with diabetic neuropathy for over two decades. Each patient’s treatment is individualized for the best results.
To relieve nerve pain there are several medications that can be used, but they will not always work for everyone, and in some cases the side effects can be worse than the symptoms. Usually over the counter medications can relieve some minor pain and inflammation, but in many cases prescription medications like opioids, anti-depressants, anti-seizure medication, or a lidocaine patch will be prescribed.
Along with medications, doctors will generally recommend physical therapies, as well as alternative therapies like acupuncture and yoga, maybe even laser treatment.
Dr. Jacoby has also performed over 2500 Dellon Decompression surgeries. This procedure is designed to increase blood flow and has prevented the need for an amputation in ALL of those undergoing the procedure!
To receive the best treatment available for your diabetic neuropathy with a a world class expert in all types of neuropathy treatment, call the Scottsdale Neuropathy Institute today at (480) 994-5977!