Did you know? Your body has 12 pairs of cranial nerves that carry important information from one part of your body to another. These electrical and chemical signals tell us if we’re moving or if there is pain in certain areas. If these signals are damaged, it can quickly cause chaos in the body, resulting in weakness, pain, tingling, or other issues also known as diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetes and nerve damage
Over 50% of people with diabetes develop diabetic neuropathy. High levels of blood glucose damage nerves over time, especially those in the legs and feet. These damaged nerves can cause parts of your body to lose sensation or even go completely numb.
There are four types of diabetic neuropathy:
- Peripheral neuropathy - the most common form that usually affects the feet first, followed by hands and arms.
- Autonomic neuropathy - affects the autonomic nervous system that controls your eyes, bladder, stomach, intestines, sex organs, and heart.
- Proximal neuropathy - often starts on one side of your body and spreads, impacting nerves in your thigh, hips, legs.
- Mononeuropathy - damage to a specific nerve.
Can I prevent diabetic neuropathy?
Once neuropathy develops, the pain can be difficult to manage. Luckily, you can take certain measures to prevent it from occurring:
Monitor blood sugar - The American Diabetes Association recommends diabetics monitor their blood sugar levels by receiving an AC1 two times each year at minimum. This test measures hemoglobin in the blood that has glucose attached, which gives the doctor an idea of your blood sugar levels for the last three months. Doctors also recommend people with diabetes monitor daily glucose levels on their own. Your doctor might recommend medication, diet changes, or exercise to help meet blood sugar level goals.
Foot care - Not caring for your feet can lead to sores, ulcers, and infections that are complications of diabetic neuropathy. Daily foot checks to look for blisters, bruises, cuts, or any other foot issue can help you find things that need treatment. Keeping your feet clean, dry, and moisturized, trimming your toenails properly, and wearing properly-fitting shoes and socks may help keep your feet healthy as well.
Can you treat diabetic neuropathy?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for diabetic neuropathy. Treatment helps prevent or relieve pain, slow progression, and restore function to areas of your body. Similarly to prevention, the best way to slow the progression is to manage your blood glucose levels. Maintaining good levels through healthy weight, blood pressure, exercise, and attention to diet can help to slow the progression of diabetic neuropathy. Your doctor might also prescribe anti-seizure drugs or antidepressants, as these are known to ease nerve pain.
Don’t let diabetic neuropathy go unchecked. For attentive and effective management of your diabetic foot care, consult with our podiatrists at Tipton & Unroe Foot & Ankle Care. They can help prevent and treat diabetes-related issues to minimize nerve problems and serious consequences like amputation.