Diabetic peripheral neuropathy refers to a condition triggered by long-term high sugar levels in the blood, resulting to nerve damage. Some patients don’t experience any symptoms. Others experience incapacitating symptoms.
In reference to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, over 60% of diabetic patients develop some form of neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is the most prevalent type of diabetic neuropathy. It usually affects the feet, legs, hands, arms, and toes.
Since most people are not aware that they have diabetes, they fail to recognize the cause of unusual sensations they experience.
Causes of Nerve Damage
High Levels of Blood Glucose
Nerve damage occurs when the levels of blood glucose remain high for an extended period. It is still not very clear why high levels of blood glucose cause nerve damage.
However, there are some factors that can trigger damage to nerve fiber. The complicated interplay between nerves and the blood vessels is a possible component. Nerve inflammation, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol are also linked to nerve damage.
Initially, diabetic peripheral neuropathy starts in the legs and feet, and eventually progress toward the arms and hands.
Symptoms of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Numbness is one of the most common symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Patients may sometimes not feel their feet while they are walking or standing. At other times, the feet or the arms start tingling or burning. Additionally, one may feel like s/he is wearing a sock or glove although they are not.
You may at times experience sudden, sharp pains that feel as if it is an electric current. At other times, you may experience cramping, as if you are grasping something such a piece of silverware. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can make you suddenly drop something you are holding at times.
Loss of Balance
Walking as if you are drunk or with a wobbly motion could be a signal you are suffering from diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Sometimes you may totally lose balance and fall down. The best solution is to wear orthopedic shoes. Patients with this condition commonly experience loss of coordination. Muscle weakness can interfere with your ankle, and as a result affect your gait. Loss of balance can also be contributed by numbness in the feet.
Your feet can start becoming deformed. This usually occurs because of the unusual shifts in weight caused by loss of nerve function and abnormal walking. The two can affect the muscles in your feet. Hammertoe is one type of deformities that can occur. It happens when the three middle toes becomes distorted at the joints.
You may start noticing some blisters or sores on your feet which you can’t explain the source. Chances are that you may have hurt yourself without noticing it immediately. Due to the nerve damage, you may not feel the injury or pain at all. This can be extremely dangerous. For instance, you can scald your feet with hot water because you are not in a position to respond to heat.
Patients with diabetic peripheral can also experience exaggerated sensations. It may feel painfully hot while you are just holding a cup of warm coffee. Your hands might feel hurt when they come into contact with something cold. Additionally, your hands and feet may occasionally feet too cold or too hot for no clear reason.
Pain at Night
Patients with diabetic periphery neuropathy spend sleepless nights due pain. It may hurt so bad that even a bed sheet feels very painful and heavy. As a result, you may find it hard to sleep or remain asleep for the better part of the night.
What You Can Do
Taking good care of your health is the best thing you can do if you have diabetic periphery neuropathy. Working along with your healthcare provider and ensuring that you are taking medications as directed is very crucial.
Avoid smoking and limit your alcohol intake if you are diabetic. These substances and illegal drugs can make your symptoms worse.
Stick with a well balanced diet that is rich in alls the essential minerals and vitamins.
Always observe safety when working out or going about your daily chores at work or home. It is worth noting that an infection in your feet can call for an amputation.
Ensure that you regularly visit your doctor and attend to any sores immediately you spot them.