FAQ’s on Diabetic & Peripheral Neuropathy
What is Diabetic & Peripheral Neuropathy?
Diabetic& Peripheral Neuropathy is nerve damage in the feet and hands that is caused by diabetes. Diabetic Neuropathy is the most common symptom associated with diabetes. It is believed that this neuropathy (nerve damage) is caused by prolonged durations of elevated blood glucose levels. There are other forms of this diabetic neuropathy, but the peripheral form is specific to the feet and hands.
- proximal neuropathy
- autonomic neuropathy
- focal neuropathy
Who is most likely to be affected by Diabetic & Peripheral Neuropathy?
Diabetic& Peripheral Neuropathy affects approximately half of all persons who have diabetes. The persons most likely to experience some form of diabetic neuropathy are those that have had diabetes for extended periods of time and thee condition can lead to a host of other problems (Diabeticperipheral neuropathy: Current perspective and future directions 2014).
What are the symptoms of Diabetic & Peripheral Neuropathy?
- Pain in the hands and feet.
- Tingling in the hands and feet.
- Numbness in the hands and feet.
These are often described as a feeling of “pins and needles,” other symptoms may include:
- Burning pain in the hands and feet.
- Stabbing pain in the hands and feet.
- Shooting pain in the hands and feet.
- Feet and hands feel either very cold or very hot.
- Feet are very sensitive to touch, (even a thin sheet on them at bedtime can be painful)
On the opposite end of the spectrum persons may experience:
- Numbness in the hands and feet, especially the feet.
- Lack of sensitivity in the hands and feet (can’t feel them, can’t feel touch sensations, can’t feel pain, can have open sores on the feet and won’t feel them)
- Weakness in the hands and feet causing difficulty walking, grasping, and holding objects.
- Injuries to the hands and feet are slow to heal.
- Ulcers on the hands and feet (Foot care knowledge and practices and the prevalence of peripheral neuropathy among people with diabetes attending a secondary care rural hospital in southern India 2013).
How is Diabetic & Peripheral Neuropathy diagnosed?
Diagnosis of Diabetic& Peripheral Neuropathy is performed by your physician by examining your feet and hands for sores and blisters, blood flow and bone structure condition. They will also test them for numbness by using a thin monofilament line (similar to fishing line or a hairbrush bristle), or by using a tuning fork.
They will rap the fork then hold it near barely touching you to see if you can feel the vibration of the fork. If you indeed show signs of nerve damage then they may perform an Electromyography (EMG), and a nerve conduction study. The EMG tests how well your nerves and muscles function together and the nerve conduction study tests the speed at which your nerve sends signals.
What are the treatment options for persons suffering from Diabetic & Peripheral Neuropathy?
Treatment for Diabetic& Peripheral Neuropathy consists of managing blood glucose levels to keep them within acceptable limits to reduce the occurrence of symptoms associated with the condition (Mechanisms and pharmacology of diabeticneuropathy – experimental and clinical studies 2013). The condition can also be managed by the use of certain prescription medications, these include the antidepressants;
The following anti-seizure medications have also been shown to reduce the symptoms associated with the condition;
In more severe cases when the preceding medications do not work the physician may prescribe opioid analgesics to reduce pain levels to something that the patient can cope with. No medication can completely eliminate the pain from symptoms but many work very well in reducing the pain levels.
What can the patient expect from treatment for Diabetic & Peripheral Neuropathy?
The patient can expect some level of relief from the pain associated with the condition. However this level of relief cannot be anticipated due to the fact that different people respond differently to the medications. Some may experience a full relief while others may only experience a slight relief from the pain caused by symptoms. This can also be dependent on the severity of their condition.
Many persons suffering from pain associated with Diabetic& Peripheral Neuropathy may become depressed. For this reason they may also need to be prescribed an anti-depressant. This medication is not intended to relieve the symptoms of pain associated with the condition but rather to alleviate the depression associated with the condition.