Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage suffered by people with diabetes. A diabetic’s heightened levels of blood sugar (glucose) can injure nerve fibers throughout the body, but most often in the legs, feet, and hands.
Depending on the location of the affected nerves, symptoms can include:
- Pain and numbness in the extremities
- Digestive tract issues
- Urinary tract problems
- Damage to heart and blood vessels
Most symptoms develop gradually, and often go unnoticed until considerable damage has occurred.
There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy, and people can have one or several of these symptoms:
Peripheral Neuropathy is the most common form, often affecting the feet and legs first, followed by the arms and hands. The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are numbness, reduced ability to feel pain or temperature change, tingling, burning sensation, sharp pains or cramps, muscle weakness, loss of reflexes and balance, increased sensitivity to touch, serious foot problems, and ulcers.
Autonomic Neuropathy affects the nervous system that controls the heart, lungs, stomach, intestines, bladder, sex organs, and eyes. This can result in problems with any of these organs, plus difficulty regulating body temperature, increased resting heart rate, and sudden drops in blood pressure.
Radiculoplexus Neuropathy affects the nerves in the hips, buttocks, thighs, or legs. This condition is most common in people with Type 2 diabetes and in older adults. The symptoms typically only affect one side of the body, and often cause abdominal swelling, severe pain, and weight loss from atrophied leg muscles. Sufferers often have difficulty walking or even rising from a seated position.
Mononeuropathy is damage to a specific nerve in the face, torso, or leg, and is most common in older adults. Although it can be very painful, it usually doesn’t cause any long-term problems. Symptoms usually diminish and disappear on their own over a few weeks or a month.
Depending on the nerve affected, symptoms may include:
- Difficulty focusing the eyes, or double vision
- Paralysis on one side of the face
- Pain in the shin, foot, lower back, pelvis, thigh, chest, or abdomen.
At this time, a cure for diabetic neuropathy has yet to be found. Fortunately, its progress can be slowed by carefully controlling blood sugar levels, leading a healthy lifestyle, and seeking advice from renowned Neurologist Dr. Deborah Cantrell, at Elite Neuroscience Center.