Diabetic neuropathy, or diabetic peripheral neuropathy, is nerve damage that occurs in the arms, hands, legs, and feet, and can lead to infection or possibly amputation when left untreated.
When identified early, Diabetic Neuropathy can often be handled before more serious conditions occur. The podiatrists and surgeons of AFACC always look to conservative treatment first, and only suggest surgery when absolutely necessary.
To learn what neuropathy treatment options are available to you, find the AFACC podiatry clinic nearest to you or fill out the appointment form to the left. For more information about diabetic neuropathy causes, symptoms & treatment options, read below.
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by diabetes. Approximately two- thirds of all diabetics will experience neuropathy to some degree. This type of nerve damage usually occurs in the arms, hands, legs and feet, and therefore is sometimes referred to as diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
What Are the Causes of Neuropathy?
There are several theories as to why neuropathy develops, including the possibilities that high blood glucose or constricted blood vessels result in damage to the nerves. Diabetic neuropathy is more common in patients with poorly managed diabetes, but can also occur in those who have excellent blood sugar control.
There are three types of nerves that can be affected by neuropathy:
- Sensory nerves: allow people to feel sensations like pain or temperature
- Motor nerves: control the muscles and their strength & balance functions
- Autonomic nerves: allow the body to perform certain involuntary functions such as sweating
What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy
Common symptoms of diabetic neuropathy include:
- Numbness or tingling in the feet
- Pain or discomfort in the feet or legs
- Burning feet
- Loss of balance
- Muscle weakness
- Dry feet
- Cracked skin
- Foot deformities
As diabetic neuropathy worsens, various nerves are damaged and can cause a variety of diabetic wounds such as:
- Skin puncture (due to numbness causing patients to be unaware of object applying pressure to the skin)
- Deformities such as bunions and hammertoes
- Skin infection or wound due toe cracked or dry skin
Prevention & Treatment Options for Diabetic Neuropathy
The patient plays a vital role in preventing and minimizing the risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. If left untreated diabetic neuropathy can end with serious consequences. Prevention methods include:
- Keeping blood sugar levels under control
- Wear well-fitting shoes to avoid pressure points
- Inspect your feet every day – if you notice any abnormalities, see your podiatric physician immediately
- Visit your podiatric physician on a regular basis for an examination to help detect the potential for a wound before it happens
If you are diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy, treatment focuses on controlling the patient’s blood sugar level. Medications are available to help relieve symptoms, while other medications and treatments are showing promise at returning some of the nerve function & sensations to previously numb areas.
If Diabetic Neuropathy is left untreated or not treated properly, it can lead to serious infection or even amputation. The podiatrists and surgeons of AFACC always look to conservative treatment first, and only suggest surgery when absolutely necessary.