Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur in individuals with diabetes. High blood sugar levels can injure nerves throughout the body, but diabetic neuropathy most often affects nerves in the legs and feet. This condition can range from pain and numbness in the extremities to problems with the digestive system, urinary tract, heart, and blood vessels.
At Alliance Orthopedics, we understand the complexities of diabetic neuropathy and are committed to providing comprehensive care to help patients manage their symptoms and maintain their quality of life.
Causes of Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy is caused by prolonged exposure to high blood sugar levels, which can damage nerves throughout the body. The risk is higher in individuals who have difficulty managing their diabetes, have high blood lipid levels, high blood pressure, are overweight, or are over the age of 40.
Several factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing diabetic neuropathy. These include:
- Poor blood sugar control: This is the greatest risk factor for every type of diabetic neuropathy. The risk increases the longer you have diabetes and the less controlled your blood sugar is.
- Diabetes history: Your risk of diabetic neuropathy increases the longer you have diabetes, particularly if your blood sugar isn’t well-controlled.
- Kidney disease: Diabetes can cause kidney damage, which can, in turn, increase the toxins in the blood and contribute to nerve damage.
- Weight: Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more increases your risk of diabetic neuropathy.
- Smoking and alcohol abuse: These can both cause nerve damage and worsen diabetic neuropathy.
Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy
The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can vary depending on the type of neuropathy and which nerves are affected. Common symptoms often include:
- Numbness, tingling, or pain in the hands or feet
- Extreme sensitivity to touch
- Muscle weakness or loss of muscle tone
- Dizziness and fainting
- Digestive problems, urinary tract problems, and changes in blood pressure
Diagnosing Diabetic Neuropathy
At Alliance Orthopedics, diagnosing diabetic neuropathy involves a comprehensive evaluation. Our team starts by understanding your symptoms, the circumstances leading to the onset of symptoms, and your overall health history. This is followed by a physical examination, where our specialists assess your sensitivity to vibration, temperature, and touch.
To confirm the diagnosis, we may also recommend additional tests. These can include nerve conduction studies, electromyography (EMG), and autonomic testing.
The primary goal of treatment for diabetic neuropathy is to manage the underlying condition, which is diabetes, and improve blood sugar control. This can slow the progression of neuropathy and even improve symptoms over time.
Pain management may involve medications to relieve discomfort. Physical therapy can also be beneficial in improving strength and mobility. In some cases, treatments such as transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) may be used.
At Alliance Orthopedics, our commitment is to provide world-class care for your diabetic neuropathy, helping you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.