Diabetic Neuropathy | What are your feet telling you?

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur as a side effect of diabetes, most commonly in the extremities. This nerve damage comes from having unmanaged high blood sugar levels for an extended period of time. It is a serious complication that may affect up to half of all people with diabetes. Keep reading to learn more about diagnosing, preventing, and treating diabetic neuropathy.

How Do I Know if I Have Diabetic Nerve Damage?

The most common type of diabetic neuropathy is called peripheral neuropathy or distal symmetric peripheral neuropathy. Typically, your feet and legs will be affected first, followed by the hands and arms. Symptoms of diabetic nerve damage can develop gradually. Unfortunately, you may not notice anything is wrong until considerable nerve damage has occurred.

Diabetic Neuropathy | What are your feet telling you | The PainSmith

However, with careful, ongoing examination of your extremities, you may be able to catch nerve damage before it progresses too far. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends screening for diabetic neuropathy immediately after a type 2 diabetes diagnosis or five years after diagnosis with type 1 diabetes. After that, screening is recommended at least once a year.

The first signs of peripheral neuropathy may include:

  • Tingling or burning feeling
  • Numbness
  • Reduced ability to feel pain or temperature changes

Once the nerve damage has progressed, you may experience:

  • Sharp pains or cramps
  • Muscle weakness
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • Serious foot problems, such as ulcers, infections, and bone and joint damage

How do I prevent diabetic neuropathy?

You can often prevent diabetic neuropathy or slow its progress with consistent blood sugar management and a healthy lifestyle. Maintaining a healthy diet, a consistent exercise routine, and staying on top of your medications are the first steps to managing your diabetes and preventing nerve damage.

You should also:

  • Keep your blood pressure within normal ranges
  • Lose weight if you’re overweight
  • Limit or avoid alcohol
  • Stop smoking or don’t start smoking

How can I treat diabetic neuropathy?

OTC Pain Relievers such as acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Long-term use of these drugs can affect your liver or kidneys, so talk to your doctor about the best options for you.

Anesthetic creams with lidocaine or capsaicin can numb skin and temporarily reduce pain. Utilizing hand or foot braces can help with muscle weakness or relieve nerve compression. Orthopedic shoes may prevent walking issues, which can prevent further foot injuries.

Prescription Medication may be required for chronic pain relief. Antidepressants, antiseizure drugs, and opioid medication have all been shown to help relieve pain in many patients. However, they all have their own complications that you should discuss with your doctor.

A pain management physician can also offer minimally invasive treatments for chronic nerve pain.

If you are struggling with chronic nerve pain as a result of diabetes, The PainSmith may be able to help. We have several different options to help manage your chronic pain. You can request a consultation or give us a call and we’ll discuss your options.

*The PainSmith team has reviewed this information. It is intended for informational purposes only, not to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. Please discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.

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