The Complex Nature of Painful Diabetic Neuropathy

Understanding Painful Diabetic Neuropathy

Painful diabetic neuropathy is a debilitating condition that affects individuals with long-standing diabetes. Neuropathy refers to nerve damage that causes excruciating pain in the extremities. Understanding the correlation between diabetes and neuropathy is crucial for effective pain management. The exact mechanisms behind diabetic neuropathy are not fully understood but are believed to involve a combination of factors including inflammation, vascular changes, and abnormal nerve function caused by high blood sugar levels. 

Microvascular impairment contributes to reduced oxygen and nutrient supply to the nerves, leading to nerve damage. Additionally, elevated glucose levels can impair nerve signaling by affecting the myelin sheath that surrounds and protects nerves. Over time, this damage results in symptoms such as tingling, numbness, pain, or weakness in various limbs and organs. Diabetic neuropathy is a serious complication of diabetes that highlights the importance of managing blood sugar levels effectively to prevent long-term neurological consequences for patients.

Common Symptoms

The most common symptom of painful diabetic neuropathy is pain that extends to the extremities. However, there are a few other symptoms that are often indicators of painful diabetic neuropathy. By being familiar with the different symptoms, you can know what is associated with neuropathy and when you should seek medical attention. 

Common symptoms include:

  • Burning sensations
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Impairment
  • Inflammation

Treatment Options for Painful Diabetic Neuropathy

The goal of painful diabetic neuropathy treatment is to help patients find relief from their chronic pain. Unfortunately, nerve damage is irreversible, so neuropathy treatment is often focused on implementing lifestyle changes and finding ways to manage the discomfort. The cornerstone of conservative management is glycemic control, achieved through diet modification, regular exercise, and medication adjustments. Additionally, pain relief can be obtained through non-pharmacological interventions such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). 

Other conservative measures include the use of orthotics to provide foot support and cushioning, as well as regular foot examinations to detect any complications early on. Moreover, psychological support and counseling play an essential role in managing the emotional burden associated with chronic pain. Utilizing a conservative approach not only maximizes symptom alleviation but also reduces the risk of adverse effects commonly associated with more invasive treatment modalities.

Spinal Cords Stimulator Treatment with BEST Health System

At BEST Health System, we offer spinal cord stimulator devices to patients experiencing chronic nerve pain. These devices work by blocking pain signals before they reach the brain. This is an excellent treatment route for patients who are experiencing chronic pain but cannot find relief through conservative methods. 

BEST Health System has locations throughout Ohio, in Cincinnati and Cleveland. Our pain management doctors, Dr. Shall and Dr. Staggs, are dedicated to helping patients improve their condition through functional medicine. Are you ready to find relief from your chronic pain, connect with BEST today to learn more about our treatment options.