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What is diabetic neuropathy?

Diabetic Neuropathy


Diabetic Neuropathy is a type of nerve damage due to high blood sugar and reduced blood flow that can occur if you have diabetes. It is this high blood sugar and reduced blood flow which can injure nerve fibers throughout your body. However, diabetic neuropathy more often than not damages nerves in your legs and feet.


Diabetic nerve pain can be described as a burning or shooting pain in the feet and legs and you may have increased sensitivity to touch. You can experience numbness and muscle weakness. Most often the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy do not develop for years after the diabetes has been diagnosed. Tingling or burning in the arms and legs may be an early sign of nerve damage. These feelings often start in your toes and feet. You may have deep pain, often in the feet and legs.

Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy in the feet and legs can include:
Not noticing when you step on something sharp;
Not knowing that you have a blister or small cut;
Not noticing when something is too hot or cold.

To keep your feet healthy, you should:
Check and care for your feet EVERY DAY.
Get a foot exam by your doctor at least once every 6 to 12 months, and learn whether you have nerve damage. Regular foot care can prevent a small infection from getting worse or can even result in amputation. Any appointment for diabetes care should include a thorough foot examination.
Make sure you wear the right kind of shoes.

In addition to Diabetic Neuropathy affecting the feet and legs, other nerve injuries that may be affected include:
Nerves in the skull
Nerves from the spinal column and their branches
Nerves that help your body manage vital organs, such as the heart, bladder, stomach, and intestines

Symptoms of other nerve damage from Diabetic Neuropathy
People with diabetes may have trouble digesting food. These problems can make your diabetes harder to control. Symptoms of this problem are:
Feeling full after eating only a small amount of food;
Heartburn and bloating;
Nausea, constipation, or diarrhea;
Swallowing problems;
Throwing up food you have eaten a few hours after a meal.

Additionally, damage to nerves in your heart and blood vessels may cause you to:
Feel light-headed when you stand up;
Have a fast heart rate.

More symptoms of nerve damage can be:
Sexual problems: Men may have problems with erections and women may have trouble with vaginal dryness or orgasm;
Not being able to tell when your blood sugar gets too low;
Bladder problems: You may leak urine and may not be able to tell when your bladder is full. Or, some people are not able to empty their bladder.
Sweating too much when the temperature is cool, when you are at rest, or at other unusual times

Prevention and Treatment
It is very important to keep your blood sugar in a healthy range. You should learn the basic steps for managing your diabetes, avoiding its complications, and staying as healthy as possible. These steps will include diet, exercise, and sometimes medicines.
Your doctor can help you by taking blood tests and other tests to monitor and check for Diabetic Neuropathy.

  • The following medications may be used to reduce symptoms in the feet, legs, and arms:
    Certain drugs that are also used to treat depression, such as amitriptyline (Elavil), doxepin (Sinequan), or duloxetine (Cymbalta)
    Certain drugs that are also used to treat seizures, such as gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica), carbamazepine (Tegretol), and valproate (Depakote)
    Pain medicines

Outlook (Prognosis)
Treatment relieves pain and can control some symptoms, but the disease generally continues to get worse, unfortunately.

Possible Complications of Diabetic Neuropathy
Bladder and kidney infections;
Injury to the feet due to loss of feeling;
Muscle damage;
Poor blood sugar control due to nausea and vomiting;
Skin and soft tissue damage and risk of amputation.

Diabetic Neuropathy may also hide angina, the warning chest pain for heart disease and a heart attack.

Do not procrastinate. If you develop symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, call´┐Żyour health care provider.

Posted October 08, 2011Support your favorite Nonprofit (Click here)