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Diabetes Management

Managing Diabetic Neuropathy: Tips For Relieving Pain and Discomfort

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 10 January 2023, Updated on - 11 December 2023

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Diabetics often complain of nagging pain and numbness in their legs and hands. Have you ever wondered why it happens? While diabetics can maintain their blood sugar levels efficiently with medications and a healthy lifestyle, there are several long-term complications of diabetes. One such complication of diabetes is diabetic neuropathy, which is characterised by slow nerve damage. Around 50% of people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes develop diabetic neuropathy later in life. Let us know more about the condition and how one can deal with it.

Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms

Since diabetic neuropathy develops gradually, the condition may not cause any signs or symptoms in the early stages. However, a few common signs that you may notice as the disease progresses include:

  • Sharp pain or cramping in the feet and legs
  • Burning sensation in the feet at night
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Coordination issues that make it difficult to walk
  • Muscle weakness and wasting
  • Numbness in the hands and feet

Some people experience these symptoms more at night than during the day. If you have diabetes and experience one or more of these symptoms, consult your doctor immediately.

What Are the Different Types of Diabetic Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is a medical term used to signify nerve damage. Diabetic neuropathy is of four types, namely

  • Peripheral neuropathy: The most common type that usually affects the hands and legs. Its symptoms include tingling, numbness, sharp pain or cramping, muscle weakness and loss of coordination.
  • Autonomic neuropathy: This type affects the nerves of the autonomic nervous system causing issues with digestion, reproduction, cardiovascular functions, and urinary bladder.
  • Proximal neuropathy: A rare type of diabetic neuropathy that usually occurs in adults over 50 affecting one side of the body, mostly the thighs, hips and buttocks.
  • Focal neuropathy or mononeuropathy: This neuropathy occurs when there is damage to a specific group of nerves, resulting in their weakness. It usually resolves in a few weeks to months without causing permanent damage.

How Is Diabetic Neuropathy Diagnosed?

There is no specific diabetic neuropathy test that is used to diagnose the condition. However, you may be required to undergo a few routine laboratory investigations to determine blood and urine sugar levels. A filament test or other nerve conduction tests may be performed on your feet to check for nerve damage.

Treatment and Management of Diabetic Neuropathy Pain

The treatment of diabetic neuropathy aims at reducing the symptoms and preventing further complications. Medications used to manage diabetic neuropathy pain include:

  • Analgesics (pain-relieving medications)
  • Anti-depressants
  • Anti-convulsant
  • Opioid pain medications

Since none of these medications has proven to treat diabetic neuropathy pain effectively, your doctor would also work towards lowering your blood sugar levels and slowing down disease progression.

The pain due to diabetic neuropathy can be severe and highly debilitating, often impacting your routine. The pain usually occurs in the feet and at night when your body is at rest. If you have diabetes and are experiencing any pain or tingling sensation in your hands and feet, visit an expert right away.

FAQs

1. How long does diabetic neuropathy take to develop?

Diabetic neuropathy can take several years to develop and progress slowly.

2. What kind of pain does diabetic neuropathy cause?

Diabetic neuropathy pain usually feels like a tingling sensation, numbness or burning. Some people may also feel a deep ache in their hands and feet.

3. Does diabetic neuropathy pain resolve by itself?

Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for diabetic neuropathy or its symptoms. However, with appropriate medications, effective symptomatic management can be achieved.

4. What causes diabetic neuropathy to flare up?

High blood cholesterol, triglycerides, high blood pressure and obesity may cause diabetic neuropathy to flare up.

5. Can diabetic neuropathy be reversed?

Currently, there is no way to reverse diabetic neuropathy. However, the condition’s progress can be slowed down with medications and lifestyle changes.

Consult An Apollo Diabetologist

You can also try the Apollo 24|7 Diabetes Self-Management Tool to log your sugar values, track patterns, know all about food nutrition and more.

Medically reviewed by Dr Sonia Bhatt.

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