What is neuropathy? Neuropathy is not a single disease, instead, it is a complication found in a number of different underlying medical conditions. It can also be seen without the cause being diagnosed, when doctors called it “idiopathic”.
The term neuropathy is short for peripheral neuropathy, meaning nerve damage in the peripheral nervous system. Only nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord are involved, so peripheral neuropathy does not include nerve damage in the central nervous system.
Peripheral Neuropathy is one of the most common chronic diseases in the U.S…over 20 million Americans have it. Peripheral neuropathy or “nerve damage” disrupts the body’s ability to communicate with its muscles, skin, joints, or internal organs. Peripheral neuropathy can be compared to the body’s electrical wiring system breaking down, causing numbness, pain, weakness and poor coordination.
Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment
AssociatesMD will provide you with an accurate diagnosis through state of the art diagnostics to ensure we can give you the relief you are looking for. An accurate diagnosis and the severity of your condition will guide the treatment program.
While pain is most frequently the first symptom people notice, loss of sensation may be your first symptom, or it may indicate progression. Restless Leg Syndrome, or RLS is often associated with neuropathy, and we frequently treat this condition.
Our patients are experiencing relief of their symptoms and achieving a much more active lifestyle. The relief you may feel in your feet could give you freedom and mobility. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy left untreated can lead to severe problems; however, there is no need to suffer any longer. In many cases, you can finally live pain free, with peace and joy in your life again.
Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms
Patients with diabetic neuropathy present with a wide variety of sensory, motor, and autonomic symptoms:
- Sensory symptoms—These include numbness, loss of balance, burning, prickling pain, tingling, electric shock-like feelings and hypersensitivity to touch.
- Motor symptoms—These include impaired coordination and difficulty with tasks such as opening jars or turning keys. Foot slapping and toe scuffing or frequent tripping may be early symptoms of foot weakness. Other motor symptoms include difficulty climbing up and down stairs, difficulty getting up from a seated or supine position, falls due to the knees giving way, and difficulty raising the arms above the shoulders.
- Autonomic symptoms—These include dry skin due to lack of sweating or excessive sweating in defined areas, sensitivity to bright lights, postural lightheadedness, fainting, urinary symptoms (such as urgency, incontinence, dribbling), gastrointestinal symptoms (such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea, or vomiting), and sexual symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, impotence and ejaculatory failure in men, loss of ability to reach sexual climax in women.
How to Prevent Diabetic Neuropathy?
Depending on whether you have developed diabetic neuropathy or not, there are a number of strategies that will help prevent the onset of neuropathy and/or progression of it:
- Control blood sugar: The number one strategy for preventing the progression of diabetic neuropathy is tight and stable glycemic control. Fluctuations in blood sugar have been shown to aggravate and/or induce neuropathic pain. You should work with your primary care physicians and nutritionists to develop a realistic diet for lowering blood glucose and minimizing large fluctuations in blood glucose.
- Diligent foot care: You require frequent follow-up, with particular attention to foot inspection at every doctor’s visit. Examining your feet daily is critical and the importance of protection and care of “insensitive” feet cannot be overemphasized. Any bacterial or fungal infections require prompt medical attention. Well-fitting shoes help prevent foots sores and trauma.
- Be active every day: Be as active as possible. With considerable sensory loss or autonomic dysfunction, be cautious about exercising in extreme weather conditions, which may result in injury. For example, if you have numbness you may not be aware of frostbite injuries during prolonged cold exposure, or if you have abnormal sweating you may become easily overheated in hot conditions. In most cases, consulting with your primary care doctor before you initiate an exercise regime helps.
- Regular check-ups: Work with your primary care physician to control your diabetes. Periodically, a consultation with an endocrinologist helps as does a consultation with a neurologist at the earliest symptoms of neuropathy. When warranted, work with your physical and occupational therapist to maintain and build your muscle strength.