Search
Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Pinterest
Print

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur in people with diabetes. It is a common complication of diabetes and affects up to 50% of people with the condition. The condition can cause a range of symptoms, including pain, numbness, and tingling in the feet and legs, and in some cases, the hands and arms.

If you are living with diabetic neuropathy, it is important to know that there is no known cure for the condition. However, there are treatments available that can help to slow its progression, relieve pain, manage complications, and restore function. The goals of treatment are to slow the progression of the disease, relieve pain, manage complications, and restore function. Consistently keeping your blood sugar within your target range is the key to preventing or delaying nerve damage.

There are a variety of treatments available for diabetic neuropathy, including pain medications, anti-seizure medications, antidepressants, topical creams, and transcutaneous electronic nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy. Your doctor may recommend one or more of these treatments, depending on the severity of your symptoms and other factors. It is important to work closely with your healthcare team to develop a treatment plan that is tailored to your individual needs and goals.

Diabetic Neuropathy Overview

If you have diabetes, you are at risk of developing diabetic neuropathy, a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have high blood sugar levels for a prolonged period. Diabetic neuropathy can cause pain and numbness in the legs, feet, and hands, as well as other complications, such as gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, weakness, and urinary or sexual problems.

Definition of Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes. High blood sugar (glucose) can injure nerves throughout the body, but diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in the legs and feet.

Types of Diabetic Neuropathy

There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy:

  • Peripheral neuropathy: the most common type, affecting the feet and legs first, then the hands and arms
  • Autonomic neuropathy: affects the nerves that control involuntary functions, such as digestion, blood pressure, and heart rate
  • Proximal neuropathy: affects the hips, buttocks, and thighs
  • Focal neuropathy: affects a single nerve, usually in the head, torso, or leg

Causes of Diabetic Neuropathy

The exact cause of diabetic neuropathy is not known, but high blood sugar levels are thought to damage nerves over time. Other factors that may contribute to diabetic neuropathy include:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Family history of neuropathy

If you have diabetes, it is important to manage your blood sugar levels to prevent or slow the progression of diabetic neuropathy. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best treatment options for you.

Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy

If you have diabetes, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. This condition affects the nerves, and can cause a range of symptoms that vary in severity depending on the type of neuropathy and which nerves are affected. Here are some common symptoms of diabetic neuropathy:

Early Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy

The early symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can be mild and easy to miss. They may include:

  • Tingling or numbness in the feet or hands
  • Loss of sensation in the feet or hands
  • Burning or shooting pain in the feet or hands
  • Cramping or muscle weakness
  • Difficulty with balance and coordination

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the condition from getting worse.

Advanced Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy

If diabetic neuropathy is left untreated, it can lead to more advanced symptoms. These may include:

  • Severe pain in the feet or hands
  • Lack of coordination and difficulty walking
  • Loss of reflexes and muscle control
  • Difficulty with bladder control
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Increased risk of foot ulcers and infections

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. Your doctor can help you manage the symptoms and prevent further complications.

Diagnosis of Diabetic Neuropathy

If you suspect that you have diabetic neuropathy, it is essential to get a proper diagnosis. Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam, review your medical history, and may order specific tests to help diagnose diabetic neuropathy.

Physical Examination

Your healthcare provider will examine you for signs of diabetic neuropathy, including muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, and loss of sensation in your feet and legs. They may also check your heart rate, blood pressure, and other vital signs.

Nerve Conduction Studies

Nerve conduction studies are tests that measure the electrical activity of your nerves. During this test, small electrodes are placed on your skin, and a small electrical current is passed through your nerves. The test measures how fast the electrical impulses travel through your nerves and can help diagnose nerve damage.

Electromyography

Electromyography (EMG) is another test that can help diagnose diabetic neuropathy. During this test, a small needle electrode is inserted into your muscle to measure the electrical activity of your muscle fibers. This test can help diagnose muscle weakness and atrophy caused by nerve damage.

Blood Tests

Your healthcare provider may order blood tests to check your blood sugar levels and to rule out other conditions that can cause neuropathy, such as vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems.

Getting a proper diagnosis is essential because it can help guide your treatment plan and prevent further nerve damage. If you suspect that you may have diabetic neuropathy, talk to your healthcare provider to get a proper diagnosis.

Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment

If you have been diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy, your doctor will recommend a treatment plan based on the severity of your condition. The goals of treatment are to slow the progression of the disease, relieve pain, manage complications, and restore function.

Medications for Diabetic Neuropathy

There are several medications available to treat diabetic neuropathy. Your doctor may prescribe pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to manage mild to moderate pain. For severe pain, your doctor may prescribe stronger pain medications, such as opioids or tramadol. Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are also commonly used to treat diabetic neuropathy. They work by altering the way your brain perceives pain signals. Topical creams and patches containing lidocaine or capsaicin may also provide pain relief.

Lifestyle Changes for Diabetic Neuropathy

Making lifestyle changes can also help manage diabetic neuropathy. Consistently keeping your blood sugar within your target range is the key to preventing or delaying nerve damage. Your doctor may recommend a dietitian to help you create a healthy meal plan. Exercise can also help control blood sugar levels and improve circulation. Your doctor may recommend low-impact exercises, such as walking, swimming, or cycling. Taking care of your feet is also important. Your doctor may recommend wearing comfortable shoes and socks, and checking your feet daily for any cuts, sores, or blisters.

Surgical Options for Diabetic Neuropathy

In some cases, surgery may be an option for diabetic neuropathy. Nerve decompression surgery can relieve pressure on the nerves and improve symptoms. This surgery involves releasing the tight tissue around the affected nerve. Spinal cord stimulation is another surgical option. This involves implanting a small device under the skin that sends electrical impulses to the nerves in the affected area, which can help reduce pain. In conclusion, the treatment of diabetic neuropathy involves a combination of medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes surgery. Talk to your doctor about the best treatment plan for your specific condition.

Prevention of Diabetic Neuropathy

If you have diabetes, you are at risk for developing diabetic neuropathy. However, there are steps you can take to prevent or delay its onset. By managing your blood sugar and taking good care of your feet, you can reduce your risk of developing nerve damage.

Managing Blood Sugar Levels

The most important step you can take to prevent diabetic neuropathy is to keep your blood sugar levels under control. High blood sugar levels can damage nerves over time, leading to diabetic neuropathy. You can manage your blood sugar levels by:

  • Eating a healthy diet that is low in sugar and refined carbohydrates
  • Exercising regularly
  • Taking your diabetes medications as prescribed by your doctor
  • Monitoring your blood sugar levels regularly and adjusting your medications as needed

Managing Blood Pressure Levels

High blood pressure can also increase your risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. By keeping your blood pressure under control, you can reduce your risk of nerve damage. You can manage your blood pressure by:

  • Eating a healthy diet that is low in salt and high in fruits and vegetables
  • Exercising regularly
  • Taking your blood pressure medications as prescribed by your doctor
  • Monitoring your blood pressure levels regularly and adjusting your medications as needed

Maintaining a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. By maintaining a healthy weight, you can reduce your risk of nerve damage. You can maintain a healthy weight by:

  • Eating a healthy diet that is low in calories and high in fruits, vegetables, and lean protein
  • Exercising regularly
  • Monitoring your weight regularly and adjusting your diet and exercise routine as needed

By taking these steps, you can reduce your risk of developing diabetic neuropathy and other complications of diabetes. Talk to your doctor about developing a personalized prevention plan that is right for you.

Conclusion – Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment

Managing diabetic neuropathy can be challenging, but it is possible to slow the progression of the disease and manage the symptoms. Consistently keeping your blood sugar within your target range is the key to preventing or delaying nerve damage. Additionally, proper foot care and safety measures can help prevent complications such as foot ulcers and amputations.

Treatment options for diabetic neuropathy include medications such as pregabalin, gabapentin, amitriptyline, and duloxetine. These medications can help relieve pain and improve nerve function. Other treatments such as physical therapy, acupuncture, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may also be helpful in managing symptoms.

It is important to work closely with your healthcare team to develop a personalized treatment plan that takes into account your unique needs and circumstances. Regular check-ups and monitoring of blood sugar levels, nerve function, and foot health can help prevent complications and ensure that your treatment plan is effective.

With proper treatment and management, it is possible to live a full and active life with diabetic neuropathy. By taking steps to manage your blood sugar levels and working closely with your healthcare team, you can minimize the impact of this condition on your daily life and maintain your overall health and well-being.

More to explore

Diabetic Foot Care

Diabetic Foot Care

If you have diabetes, taking care of your feet is crucial. Diabetes can affect the blood flow and the nerves in your

Leave a Reply