Diabetes is a condition that affects many areas of the body, including a patient’s feet, legs and hands. Diabetics who suffer from numbness, pain and loss of sensation in the extremities have what is called peripheral neuropathy.
Causes for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Most cases of diabetic peripheral neuropathy can be traced back to uncontrolled blood sugar. It is estimated that over half of the patients diagnosed with diabetes will experience peripheral neuropathy at some point in their lives.
Symptoms for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Neuropathy can be very painful, but the condition generally starts with a slight tingling or numbness in the legs, feet or hands. Many describe the sensation as prickling or buzzing. As the condition worsens, it begins to feel like a sharp pinch or burning. As the muscles weaken, patients may be more likely to lose their balance when standing or walking. Patients who have debilitating peripheral neuropathy in the legs and feet may require a wheelchair, leg braces or splints.
Treatments for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy cannot be cured; however, the underlying issues can be treated. Pain management is also available. Following the doctor’s orders can delay or improve symptoms.
Common forms of treatment include:
There are many medications on the market for diabetics with neuropathy pain. Some topical treatments are available over the counter. Prescription drugs include Topamax, Lyrica and Topiragen. Herbal supplements, like primrose oil, are popular alternative treatments. Some patients have also had relief with acupuncture and massage therapy.
The best thing a diabetic can do to rebuild muscle and keep new nerves healthy is to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Diabetics have always been told to watch their weight and become more physically active.
Diabetics should also take their diabetic medications as prescribed by their doctor. They should avoid alcohol, which changes to sugar in the body. Patients should also stop smoking because it constricts blood vessels that should be feeding nutrients to peripheral nerves. It is also important for patients to test their blood glucose regularly.
Physical therapy is another option available to diabetics suffering from leg, arm or foot pain. Vocational, occupational and physical therapists can work with patients to rebuild muscle and help them find solutions to everyday problems stemming from physical limitations.
Fortunately for diabetics, slightly damaged peripheral nerves are able to regenerate. This means that those who are just now experiencing the early symptoms will have the best outcome from treatment.
Peripheral neuropathy is a serious condition that affects many diabetics. Early symptoms are often ignored; however, it is important to act quickly to limit nerve damage. There are a variety of ways to treat symptoms.