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Diabetic Neuropathy

What is Diabetic Neuropathy?

Diabetic Neuropathy refers to nerve damage as a result of diabetes. Nerves have special duties in the body including controlling body functions, moving your body parts and sending information about feeling. Anyone with diabetes could get neuropathy which may be peripheral, autonomic, proximal or focal.

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral diabetic neuropathy is the most common type that refers to nerve damage in the feet and legs. Sometimes it could also affect the arms and hands.

Statistics show that about 60% of all people with diabetes will develop peripheral neuropathy but not all suffer pain. People with this type of nerve damage may not be able to feel cold, heat or pain in the affected parts.

Can Diabetic Neuropathy Be Reversed?

It is impossible to reverse diabetic neuropathy but caregivers agree that there are therapies, lifestyle changes and medications that could prevent further nerve damage and even offer relief.

The easiest way to do this is stabilizing or lowering blood sugar level. This basic step is known to ease symptoms by 50%. You also need to quit smoking, take your medications correctly, reduce alcohol intake, lose weight, choose professional therapies and exercise regularly.

In summary, you need to stick to your diabetes treatment plan to prevent further progression of diabetes and therefore avoid neuropathy.

Types of Diabetic Neuropathy

  • Focal neuropathy as the name suggests is a condition where specific nerves in various parts of the body are affected. Focal neuropathies usually affect the head, torso, legs, and hands.
  • Proximal neuropathy is a painful type of nerve damage that usually affects the buttock, thigh, and hip. It is a rare condition that is often associated with severe weight loss.
  • Autonomic neuropathy means that there is nerve damage to your internal organs. This leads to problems in the heart, digestive system, reproductive and sweat glands.

Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms

People with diabetic neuropathy experience a number of symptoms that may vary according to the nerves affected. The common warning signs and symptoms include;

  • Loss of sensation in affected body parts. Some people will not feel pain from cuts in their hands or feet. Many patients with peripheral neuropathy develop ulcers in their feet and don’t even notice because there isn’t any pain felt.
  • Burning or electric shock sensations
  • Muscle cramping, twitching, and weakness
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch. For some patients, simple actions like simply wearing socks, covering their bodies and shoes causes excruciating pain. This is usually as a result of damage to small nerve fibers.
  • Poor coordination as a result of damage to large nerve fibers. Maintaining balance becomes a major problem for people with neuropathy.

What Does Diabetic Neuropathy Pain Feel Like?

Most people who experience diabetic neuropathy pain say that it is like nothing they have felt before. It is different from the usual kinds of pain in that is a non-protective form of pain.

Your nerves send extra electric signals to the brain, resulting in excruciating pain from normal activities that weren’t painful before. Unfortunately, this means that diabetic nerve pain will not ease if you limit or stop or limit activities.

How to Treat Diabetic Neuropathy

Medications

If you are experiencing diabetic neuropathy pain, your doctor will start by suggesting over the counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or aspirin.

There are other stronger options for longer-term relief but these should be taken in moderation to prevent side effects. Your physician might also recommend antidepressants to control pain chemicals in your brain.

Medications designed to prevent epileptic seizures may also be given to patients experiencing nerve pain. Drugs like Tegretol, Gabapentin, and Pregabalin are some of the medications you will get to reduce the pain and improve sleep.

Natural Remedies

To avoid complications and side effects of taking so much medication, some patients with peripheral neuropathy choose natural remedies for the pain. Herbs like fenugreek and green tea have antioxidant properties that increase insulin sensitivity thereby controlling blood sugar. There are plenty more herbs and spices with the ability to provide short-term pain relief.

Acupuncture

Studies show that acupuncture is an effective method of pain relief whose results may last up to 6 months. It involves sticking several needles onto a selected body part to awaken the nerves and reduce painful impulses.

Is There A Cure For Diabetic Neuropathy?

Diabetes neuropathy cannot be cured as nerve damage is simply irreversible. However proper management of the condition will provide relief and prevent the situation from escalating. Talk to your doctor about all your symptoms to help them design a competent treatment and management plan with lasting results that will definitely improve the quality of your life.