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Diabetic Neuropathy

Illustration of a human foot with visible nerves highlighted representing diabetic neuropathy
Key insights into diabetic neuropathy reveal how early actions can prevent nerve damage; discover the lifestyle changes that make a difference.

What is Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve damage condition caused by high blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It affects the peripheral and central nervous systems. The most commonly damaged areas are the legs, feet, hands and arms.


Diabetic neuropathy is caused by:

  • Prolonged high blood sugar weakens blood vessels (capillaries) supplying nerves, leading to nerve damage and disrupted signaling (damages capillaries supplying nerves, disrupts nerve signaling)
  • Further capillary damage limits nutrients and oxygen to nerves, increasing risk of damage (limits nerve nutrients and oxygen, increases nerve damage risk)
  • Poor blood sugar control, long diabetes duration, kidney disease, obesity, and smoking heighten likelihood of developing it (poor control, long duration, kidney disease, obesity, smoking increase likelihood)


Common diabetic neuropathy symptoms include:

  • Sensory changes like numbness, tingling, burning or painful sensations in hands and feet (impacts balance and coordination)
  • Muscle weakness affecting coordination and daily tasks
  • Autonomic issues like digestive, cardiovascular, sexual problems


Diabetic neuropathy testing involves:

  • Nerve conduction and EMG to measure nerve function and muscle health (diagnose severity and areas of nerve damage)
  • Autonomic testing for heart rate, blood pressure, sweating abnormalities (checks nervous system controlling involuntary functions)
  • Blood tests and physical exam assessing related conditions, reflexes, strength, touch sensitivity (reveal contributing factors and impact)


Managing diabetic neuropathy involves:

  • Medications like pain relievers, anti-seizure, antidepressants to control nerve pain
  • Topical treatments such as capsaicin cream targeting discomfort areas
  • Physical therapy for strengthening muscles, mobility, balance
  • Lifestyle changes to control blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol (key for symptom management and preventing further nerve damage)


The prognosis depends on:

  • Symptom severity and neuropathy type (mild symptoms indicate better outlook)
  • Early detection and proper management (monitoring and treatment adjustments improve outcomes)
  • Development of complications like sensation/movement issues (promptly addressing complications is critical)


Preventing diabetic neuropathy involves:

  • Adopting routine foot checks, healthy diet, exercise for blood sugar control
  • Seeking early medical evaluation at first signs of nerve issues
  • Complying with medications, exams, neurological test recommendations

Proper lifestyle changes and diligent diabetes management, coupled with early intervention, are key to preventing diabetic neuropathy or stopping its progression.


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