Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is caused by nerve damage as a result of diabetes. This nerve damage is exacerbated by chronically high levels of blood glucose, a feature of diabetes. There are several types of diabetic neuropathy; peripheral diabetic neuropathy affects the feet and legs first, followed by the possibility of the hands and arms. Up to 50 percent of patients with Type 2 diabetes are affected by diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
Symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy are described in many ways by those who suffer from them. These symptoms are also characterized by the fact that they are often worse at night, and may even disrupt sleep. Symptoms occur in the extremities (feet and hands) and include:
- Deep stabbing, sharp and shooting pains
- Foot deformity
- Foot blisters or sores
- Sensations of prickling or pins and needles
- Sensitivity to cold, heat or touch
Diagnosis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy begins with a thorough medical history. This includes a discussion of symptoms, lifestyle habits and family history. A neurological review includes tests of reflexes and sensations, such as pressure, pin pricks or temperature sensations. A physical exam may also center on careful evaluation of the feet for appearance of diabetes-related signs and sensations and presence of any sores or infection. Further tests may include blood work and nerve function tests.
There is no known cure for diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Thus, the focus of treatment is on relieving the symptoms, including pain, restoring function and helping to slow the progress of the diabetes that is causing the problem.
Treatment options include lifestyle modifications, particularly to control blood sugar, such as:
- Healthy weight
- Moderate to no alcohol consumption
- Smoking cessation
Some other remedies include over-the-counter pain medications, prescription medications and vitamins (such as a range of the B vitamins, vitamin D and antioxidants).
Role of Pain Management
An article in American Family Physician revealed that 39 percent of patients with painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy do not receive any treatment, a most unfortunate fact. Although this condition cannot be cured, it can be prevented, managed and treated with various techniques utilized by pain management specialists. Many conservative therapies customized by our expert, Dr. Harris Shaikh, can address and alleviate the problems caused by diabetic peripheral neuropathy.
At Nova Spine & Pain Centers, we provide a tailored approach to pain and other symptom relief from diabetic peripheral neuropathy, utilizing an array of minimally invasive procedures. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.