Diabetes Neuropathy Pain

Diabetes can be a debilitating condition when blood sugar levels are not properly managed. If left unattended, other areas of the body begin to break down. Neuropathy pain can result when damage begins to spread through the nervous system. Statistics from the National Institute of Health report as many as 60 to 70 percent of diabetes sufferers have developed some form of nerve damage



People who have suffered from diabetes for a period of time may begin to experience symptoms of nerve damage in different areas of the body. Tingling sensations in the legs, or arms, or hands, or feet may occur. Numbness, or pain in these areas is also possible, however nerve damage can appear within any area of the body. Diabetic neuropathy is the clinical term given for nerve disorders that result from diabetes' effects on the body. It's not uncommon for diabetes sufferers to have this condition and not know it.




High blood sugar issues are linked as the cause for diabetic neuropathy pain. As nerve structures run through every area of the body, high sugar levels in the blood impair signal transmission between nerve pathways. High sugar levels also work to damage the walls of the blood vessels. Blood vessel damage means needed oxygen and nutrient supplies are unable to move through vessel walls and reach nerve pathways. The longer sugar levels remain elevated, the more damage can occur.




There are four different categories of diabetic neuropathy pain: autonomic, peripheral, focal and proximal. Pain, numbness or tingling that shows up in the thighs, buttocks or hips is considered proximal neuropathy. Damage that occurs in one nerve, or a group of nerves is classified as focal. Muscle weakness can result from proximal or focal nerve damage. Autonomic damage can surface within any area of the body's autonomic system. These areas include the heart, organs involved in digestion, the reproductive organs and the bladder. Symptoms of autonomic damage include digestive problems, impaired sexual functioning, bladder control problems and blood pressure problems.




A routine physical exam will reveal signs of possible diabetic neuropathy pain. A typical examination where reflexes, muscle condition and touch sensitivity are checked should reveal possible signs of nerve damage. Slow or non-existent reflexes, poor muscle strength and numbness are indicators of possible nerve damage. A procedure called the filament test uses a soft, feather-like strand to test for nerve sensitivity in the feet and hands. If a physician suspects damage is present, other tests may be administered to determine what category of neuropathy is present.


Treatment for diabetic neuropathy pain involves managing its symptoms, since there is no known cure for diabetes. Treatment approaches focus on pain relief, restoring normal nerve function and preventing further damage. Proper diet, exercise and managing blood sugar levels are ongoing requirements for managing diabetes. Meeting these requirements will also help relieve nerve pain. There are medications that can be taken to alleviate bouts of acute pain. Anti-seizure medications, tricyclic antidepressants and pain relief patches may be prescribed as remedies, depending on the type of neuropathy that is present.



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