How Diabetes and Neuropathy Interact 

Neuropathy is an umbrella term for the different forms of nerve damage that affect the body’s functions. The nervous system is a communications network that sends signals between the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and all other parts of the body. When a nerve is damaged it affects the way the signals are sent. This can cause several symptoms that vary depending on the nerve damage. Diabetic neuropathy occurs when high blood glucose (sugar) levels can damage the small blood vessels that supply the nerves in your body

At BEST, we proudly announce that we offer treatments that can help relieve the pain caused by this condition. In addition, we believe that one of the most important aspects of treatment is patient education. An educated patient is well equipped to answer questions and work out a treatment plan with their doctor that is unique to their lifestyle and condition. 

The Relation Between Diabetes and Neuropathy

The symptoms caused by diabetes can lead to neuropathy. Patients with diabetes are more likely to have high blood glucose levels, also known as blood sugar, and high levels of fat, both of which damage the nerves over time. The small blood vessels that nourish your nerves can also be damaged by high blood glucose levels. Nutrients and oxygen are essential for nerve function when this is affected it can cause a range of symptoms.

Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can range from mild to disabling, however, they are rarely life-threatening. The symptoms caused by diabetic neuropathy depend on the type of nerve that is damaged as well as the severity of the damage. Symptoms may develop over days, weeks, or years. General symptoms of neuropathy include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling sensations
  • Loss of sensation in the limbs

There are some cases where symptoms improve on their own and do not require advanced care. Although it cannot be reversed there are options to treat it. 

Types of Diabetic Neuropathy

The following are the main types of diabetic neuropathy known for the type of nerves that are damaged. 

Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy affects nerves outside the brain and spinal cord and is the most common type of neuropathy. It affects nerves in particular in the feet and hands, and it can be either motor neuropathy or sensory neuropathy.

Sensory Neuropathy

Sensory neuropathy occurs when nerves that sense touch, smell, and sight are damaged. Messages from the skin, bones, and muscles to the brain are carried by the nerves that transmit touch, temperature, pain, and other sensations. This type of neuropathy affects primarily the nerves in the feet and legs, but it can also affect the arms and hands.

Autonomic Neuropathy

Damage to the nerves that carry information to your organs and glands is known as autonomic neuropathy. These nerves are responsible for controlling functions that patients typically don’t pay attention to. Such as how quickly your stomach empties, how regularly your heart beats, and how your sexual organs function, they also help to regulate our internal temperature. 

Motor Neuropathy

Nerves that control movement are affected by motor neuropathy. If these nerves are damaged, the muscles that receive messages from them become weak and wasting. When a nerve is damaged, it can cause problems like muscle weakness, which can lead to falls or difficulty fastening buttons, and muscle wasting, where muscle tissue is lost because it’s less active. There is also a possibility of cramping and muscle twitching as a result.

Treatment for Diabetic Neuropathy

Neuropathy symptoms can be relieved by a variety of treatments. A range of medications may be used, such as nausea and vomiting medications, painkillers for sensory neuropathy, and erectile dysfunction treatments. Although treatment options vary from case to case, the most effective way to reduce symptoms caused by diabetic neuropathy and slow the progression of nerve damage is by controlling your blood sugar, blood fat (cholesterol), and blood pressure levels.  

How BEST Can Help

Patients at BEST Health System have access to various conservative treatment options. We offer physical therapy, orthotics, and nutritional services. In addition to conservative treatment, we do all-out imaging on-site. Our state-of-the-art facilities are all-inclusive and capable of running diagnostic imaging including x-rays, MRI, and CT scans. 

If you require surgery, BEST offers minimally invasive options performed by our board-certified surgeons, Dr. Girton and Dr. Abbott. The incision for minimally invasive surgery is typically less than an inch and a majority of patients who undergo surgery with BEST are walking within hours. 

If you would like to learn more about what BEST has to offer, feel free to reach out to us today!