Diabetes is more than just one disease. It’s a cluster of diseases that mess with the way your body processes glucose. There are several types and causes of diabetes, but it all boils down to having too much sugar in your blood. That leads to a plethora of problems, but the one you might not hear about as often is neuropathy — nerves damaged by high levels of blood sugar. And when your nerves are damaged, it hurts.
That’s where we come in. If you have diabetic neuropathy, we can help you manage your pain and even overcome it if we catch it early enough. At Metro Pain & Vein, we are pain specialists and use the latest technology and techniques to get you back to pain-free living. Diabetic neuropathy is a complex issue, and your treatment will depend on what kind you have.
Fairly common among folks with diabetes, peripheral neuropathy affects about 50% of diabetics. It shows up as tingling and numbness in your extremities like your legs, arms, feet, and hands. Peripheral neuropathy responds well to blood sugar management. That means that when you get your blood sugar back to normal, your neuropathy symptoms usually subside as well.
When your peripheral neuropathy is also accompanied by pain, we can help ease it with medication. But the best way to approach this type of nerve pain is to lower your blood sugar through a proper diet.
If you have peripheral neuropathy, make sure you:
- Check your feet for injury or infection daily
- Keep your toenails clean and trimmed (go to podiatrist if necessary)
- Watch your blood sugar levels
If your diabetes begins to affect the nerves in the areas of your body responsible for those autonomic functions like digestion, urination, and blood flow, you have autonomic neuropathy, and you’re among more than 30% of diabetics who suffer from the same thing. You may notice symptoms like:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Dizziness or blacking out
- Difficulty emptying your bladder
- Sexual dysfunction
This type of neuropathy attacks single nerves rather than a group or cluster of nerves. It might be in your hands, your legs, your torso, or your head. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common forms of focal neuropathy in diabetics, affecting about 25% of them.
In addition to managing your blood sugar (the cause of the damage), we may suggest you wear a splint to help ease your wrist pain, or we prescribe medication to reduce inflammation.
Proximal neuropathy is the rarest of all the diabetic neuropathies. It affects your hip, thigh, and buttocks on one side of your body and usually doesn’t spread. The pain can be intense and can also cause weakness, wasted muscles, and loss of reflexes. More men than women experience it, but both can get it.
Although your symptoms may decrease over time, they likely won’t disappear completely.
Slowing the progression of diabetic neuropathies
Regardless of the type of neuropathy you have, the way to slow it down or stop it is the same — you must control your diabetes.
First and foremost that means controlling your blood sugar. Nothing is more important when you’re diabetic. Medications and diet are your first line of defense, so be diligent. Your nerves are at stake.
Next, you can do your best to decrease your likelihood of getting diabetic neuropathy by:
- Quitting smoking
- Exercising regularly
- Losing weight
- Reducing your blood pressure and cholesterol
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Keeping stress to a minimum
- Limiting alcohol intake
When the pain gets bad, come see us. Better yet, come see us before the pain gets bad. We’re experts in finding the source of pain and stopping it in its tracks. We understand your neuropathy and the frustrating cycle of discomfort it causes. We have 11 convenient locations to serve you, so call us or request an appointment online today.