Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage associated with diabetes. It results in damage to the nerves in a person’s feet, legs, and eyes, and to the nerves that control bodily functions, such as digestion, blood pressure, and heart rate. Diabetic neuropathy can lead to serious complications, including
, infection, and limb loss.
Nerves of the Foot
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Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy may include:
- Numbness in the extremities
- Tingling in the extremities
- Pain in the extremities
- Wasting of the muscles of the feet or hands
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or fainting
- Urination problems
or vaginal dryness
- Weakness in arms and or legs
- Foot drop
- Weakness of facial muscles resulting in drooping eyelid, drooping mouth, facial droop, difficulty swallowing
- Muscle cramps
- A prolonged feeling of fullness after eating, and/or abdominal pain
- Heat intolerance due to a decreased ability to sweat normally
If you have diabetic neuropathy, you are at increased risk for developing other types of neuropathies, such as
carpal tunnel syndrome
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include:
Blood Glucose Management
It is important to regularly monitor blood glucose levels. You can bring them within normal range with meal planning, exercise, and/or medicines.
If you have diabetic neuropathy, you will need to take special care of your feet. The nerves in the feet are the ones most often affected by neuropathy. This care will involve regular visits to a foot doctor and careful cleaning, inspection, moisturizing, and grooming of your feet. In addition, always wear well-fitting shoes and thick, soft, seamless socks to help protect your feet from injuries.
Other treatments will depend on your symptoms. Medicines can be used to relieve pain, burning, tingling, or numbness. Often, the medicines used to treat these symptoms are the same ones used to treat
. Another option to treat pain is called transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). With TENS, a machine sends painless electrical signals through the skin to the nerves. Your doctor may offer this treatment.
If you have gastrointestinal problems, modifying your diet and/or taking
an antibiotic can help. Taking care when sitting or standing, increasing salt intake, or taking medicines can help manage dizziness and weakness. An antibiotic can be prescribed to treat a
urinary tract infection
. Medicines can be used to treat erectile dysfunction, and vaginal lubricants are recommended to treat vaginal dryness.