Diabetic Neuropathy is a nerve disorder caused by diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar levels from diabetes can damage nerves throughout your body causing neuropathy.
There are several types of neuropathy:
Peripheral Neuropathy – Peripheral neuropathy reduces your ability to sense pain, touch, temperature, and vibration in certain parts of the body. Peripheral neuropathy may also affect movement and muscle strength. Symptoms include tingling, numbness, tightness, burning, stabbing pain, greatly reduced or greatly increased sensitivity to light, touch, temperature, loss of balance and coordination.
Autonomic Neuropathy – may cause problems with the nerves that control the involuntary functions of your body, such as heartbeat, blood pressure, sweating, digestion, urination, and some aspects of sexual function. Symptoms include frequent bloating, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, profuse sweating, sexual problems, dizziness, weakness, and difficulty knowing when your blood sugar is low.
Focal Neuropathy – focal Neuropathy affects a single nerve, most often in the wrist, thigh, or foot.
It may also affect the nerves of the back, chest, and those that control the eye muscles. Focal neuropathy often develops suddenly and is the rarest form. Symptoms include pain, weakness, motor problems in a single area of the body, pain in or around one of your eyes, double vision, and difficulty moving the eye.
What can cause Neuropathy? High blood sugar levels cause diabetic neuropathy. The higher your blood sugar levels, the greater your risk of developing Neuropathy. The risk of nerve damage also increases as you age and the longer you have diabetes. Smoking and excessive use of alcohol may further increase the risk of neuropathy.
How is Neuropathy diagnosed? A diagnosis of Neuropathy is based largely on your symptoms, your medical history, and a physical examination. Tests such as electromyogram and nerve conduction may be done to confirm the diagnosis. Additional tests may be needed to identify which type of neuropathy you have.
What are the Neuropathy treatment options? Treatment focuses on slowing the progression of the disease by consistently keeping your blood sugar levels within a narrow and tightly controlled range. Taking proper care of your feet to keep them free from sores and infections is also important. These neuropathy treatments may include but are not limited to: pain medication, pain pumps, acupuncture or MTPS, Massage, biofeedback, Physical Therapy, Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS).
What can I do to decrease my risk or avoid the progression of Neuropathy? the best way to avoid the progression of neuropathy is to control your blood sugar, exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, do not smoke, and limit your alcohol intake.