Approximately 34.2 million people — or 10.5% of the U.S. population — suffer from Diabetes, and those are just the documented cases. Among those millions of people, about 47% are said to also have Diabetic Neuropathy or a common condition that affects patients with both types of Diabetes.
Diabetic Neuropathy is most well-known for its effects on the feet of Diabetes patients. However, many people are unaware of exactly how Diabetic Neuropathy affects the body, how it’s caused, or what can be done about it. Read on to find out more information about Diabetic Neuropathy:
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic Neuropathy is essentially explained as nerve damage caused by long periods of high blood sugar in the body. Neuropathy is a blanket term for a series of complications that are commonly experienced by Diabetes patients. It’s a serious condition that generally has a gradual onset, though some types can happen more suddenly than others.
There are several different types of Diabetic Neuropathy, each affecting different systems and parts of the body. Diabetic patients experience these Neuropathies differently, and each has its own set of symptoms. For the purpose of this article, we’ll be discussing the most common and well-known form of the condition: Peripheral Neuropathy.
How Does it Affect the Body?
Peripheral Neuropathy primarily affects the legs and feet of Diabetes patients, though in some cases the arms and hands can be affected as well. Due to the nerve damage caused by prolonged periods of high blood sugar, the body can be affected in a variety of ways including:
- Changes to gait
- Changes to the shape of feet
- Loss of balance
- Loss of muscle tone or muscle weakness in the legs and/or feet
- Swollen legs and/or feet
- Loss of feeling in the legs and/or feet
- Frequent falling (due to loss of feeling)
- Sores and other injuries to the legs and feet
These effects can be difficult to live with, and understandably so. However, there are ways to manage Peripheral Neuropathy that can allow Diabetes patients to resume their quality of life, which we’ll discuss in a later section.
Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy
Aside from the effects, Peripheral Neuropathy has on the body, there is a set of symptoms that Diabetes patients commonly experience and should be aware of. These include:
- Numbness, tingling, or burning in the feet (especially common at night)
- Stabbing, throbbing, or sharp nerve pain in the legs and feet, especially when walking or otherwise bearing weight on the feet
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Paralysis (in cases where motor nerves are damaged)
- Loss of ability to sense position or movement
Diabetes patients experiencing any combination of these symptoms should consult with a podiatrist as soon as possible. A podiatrist can provide options for treatment and help patients to find relief for Neuropathy symptoms of the legs and feet.
How to Treat Diabetic Neuropathy
While it’s not possible to cure Diabetic Neuropathy, it is manageable. Some types of management include:
Pain Management — Medications and other forms of pain treatments can be prescribed for Neuropathy related pain or discomfort
Symptom Management — A podiatrist can offer therapies to relieve discomfort caused by other Neuropathy symptoms. Treatments vary depending on the individual symptoms and the patient’s medical history.
Lifestyle Management — It’s also possible to relieve symptoms of Neuropathy with certain lifestyle changes, such as more exercise, a healthier diet, careful monitoring of blood sugar levels, etc.
Talk to a Professional Podiatrist About Your Diabetic Neuropathy
When Peripheral Neuropathy affects the legs and feet, a licensed podiatrist can help. Being knowledgeable on your condition and seeking the advice of a professional early on is your best chance at recovering successfully. If you’re suffering from leg and/or foot discomfort related to Diabetic Neuropathy, don’t put it off any longer — call us at (480) 962-4281 or click the button to request an appointment today!