Diabetic peripheral neuropathy refers to nerve damage that is caused by high blood sugar and diabetes. Although not all people experience pain, about 60-70 percent of people with diabetes eventually develop peripheral neuropathy.
There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy – peripheral, autonomic, radiculoplexus, and mononeuropathy. The most common form is peripheral neuropathy.
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are typically worse at night. The feet and legs are often first to show signs, followed by the hands and arms. Symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy may include:
- Reduced ability to feel pain or temperature changes
- A tingling or burning sensation
- Sharp pains or cramps
- An increased sensitivity to touch
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of reflexes, particularly in the ankle
- Loss of coordination and balance
- Ulcers, infections, deformities, and bone/joint pain in the foot
Patients with diabetes can reduce their risk of developing nerve damage by keeping their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible.
Because there is no known cure for diabetic peripheral neuropathy, treatment typically focuses on slowing any nerve damage and relieving any pain.
In order to slow the progression of nerve damage, the patient should:
- Follow the doctor’s advice for proper foot care
- Keep blood pressure under control
- Maintain a healthy diet
- Stay physically active
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid alcohol completely or drink it only in moderation
Relieving pain consists of:
- Anti-depression medication
- Anti-seizure medication
- Physical therapy