What Is The Outlook For People With Diabetes
Although reversing nerve damage is difficult, you can still live a high quality of life. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to keep pain at bay.
Lifestyle adjustments can be effective, such as:
- Using a cane to help you move easier.
- Wearing special shoes to try to protect feet from injuries and skin breakdown.
- Getting help from a wound clinic to treat and heal foot and leg wounds.
- Removing throw rugs and other tripping hazards to prevent falls.
Can Neuropathy Be Prevented
You can reduce your risk of neuropathy by treating existing medical problems and adopting healthy living habits. Here are some tips:
- Manage your diabetes: If you have diabetes, keep your blood glucose level within the range recommended by your doctor.
- Take care of your feet: If you have diabetes or poor blood flow, its important to check your feet every day. Look for sores, blisters, redness, calluses, or dry or cracking skin. Keep your toenails clipped apply lotion to clean, dry feet and wear closed-toe, well-fitting shoes. Protect your feet from heat and cold. Dont walk barefoot.
- Keep your floors free of items that could cause you to trip and fall. Make sure all electrical cords are tucked away along the baseboards of walls and rooms are well lit.
- Stop smoking: Smoking constricts blood vessels that supply nutrients to nerves. Without proper nutrition, neuropathy symptoms can worsen.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle:Eat a balanced diet, stay within your ideal weight range, exercise several times a week and keep alcoholic drinks to a minimum. These healthy living tips keep your muscles strong and supply your nerves with the oxygen and nutrients they need to remain healthy.
- Review your medications: Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about all the medications and over-the-counter products you take. Ask if any are known to cause or worsen neuropathy. If so, ask if a different medication can be tried.
How We Treat Diabetic Neuropathy With Nerve Blocks/ Spinal Stimulation
Because of the varying degrees of pain, and causes, of diabetic neuropathy, we here at Southern Pain & Neurological of Louisiana offer a variety of treatment options for our patients. Two of the most successful treatments are nerve blocks and spinal stimulation.
Nerve blocks, or injections of medication close to the affected nerves, relieve the pain symptoms of diabetic neuropathy by disrupting pain signals to the brain. Our patients can experience short-term relief through an injection of medication to the area in which they feel pain.
In some cases, we provide longer-lasting pain relief by intentionally damaging the malfunctioning nerve or nerves, with the nerve block.
The reason this treatment method is more effective than oral medication is because the injected medication is delivered immediately, and directly, to the part of the body in pain. Our injections include:
- Steroids which reduce inflammation and irritation to the affected nerve
- Local anesthetic to break the cycle of pain and provide relief
- Opioid injection to provide powerful short-term relief
Spinal cord stimulation can reduce pain by transmitting mild electrical impulses to the spinal cord. This stimulation disrupts the feeling of pain. Rather than feeling pain, patients experience a far more pleasing sensation .
If the trial period is a success, we can move on to the permanent procedure .
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Supplements And Herbal Medications
2021 review notes that currently, there is insufficient evidence to suggest that supplements, vitamins, and herbal medicines are effective for treating diabetic neuropathy. It concludes that further research is still necessary. If a person is considering taking supplements, it is advisable to first discuss them with a doctor.
Keep Your Blood Sugar Levels In Your Target Range
Meal planning, physical activity and medications, if needed, all can help you reach your target range. There are two ways to keep track of your blood sugar levels:
- Use a blood glucose meter to help you make decisions about day-to-day care.
- Get an A1C test at least twice a year to find out your average blood sugar for the past 2 to 3 months.
Checking your blood sugar levels will tell you whether your diabetes care plan is working or whether changes are needed.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetic Neuropathy
The most common symptoms of diabetic neuropathy are numbness, tingling, a burning feeling, aching, cramps and weakness. Symptoms often begin in their feet or hands. These symptoms may later spread to their legs and arms.
Diabetic neuropathy can also cause:
- pain and discomfort in your arms or legs, especially at night
- not being able to feel sores or cuts
- not being able to recognise when your blood sugar is low
Talk to your doctor if you think you might have diabetes or diabetic neuropathy, or call the National Diabetes Services Scheme Helpline on 1800 637 700.
Is Your Neuropathy Idiopathic
We mentioned that some neuropathies are idiopathic. This means that medical professionals can find no specific cause of your neuropathy symptoms, even though you have them. In about 70% of cases, the cause is found and then proper treatment can begin. However, some people have neuropathy and never know why it happens. An idiopathic diagnosis comes after all tests have been conducted with no conclusive results. Examinations and diagnosis often include blood tests, nerve testing and imaging tests as well as experimentation with different therapies to see if one benefits a patient.
There is no cure for idiopathic neuropathy. Medical professionals might know in the future why there is idiopathic neuropathy and what causes it. However, at this time, patients with an idiopathic diagnosis can still find some sort of relief from natural neuropathy treatments and therapies. There is no guarantee that these therapies can work for idiopathic patients, but there are always benefits in some way. No matter if you have peripheral neuropathy that can be treated, or if you have idiopathic neuropathy, we recommend continuing to receive treatment and therapy for your symptoms. You never know if one day, you will suddenly start to see results.
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Spinal Cord Stimulators And Other Therapies
Pain medicine specialists have been experimenting with spinal cord stimulator implants in severely painful cases. One such study of 10 patients showed that median background and peak pain scores at the end of the study were, respectively, 77 and 81 with the stimulator off and 23 and 20 with the stimulator on. Exercise tolerance significantly improved at 3 months and at 6 months.
A study by Petersen et al indicated that high-frequency spinal cord stimulation is a safe and effective means of treating painful diabetic neuropathy that does not adequately respond to medication. In the reports patients, pain from diabetic neuropathy was refractory to therapy with gabapentin or pregabalin, along with treatment using at least one other class of analgesic. Individuals received either conventional medical management or CMM plus 10-kHz SCS. While 5% of those who underwent CMM achieved at least 50% pain relief, as measured on the visual analog scale, without observed neurologic deterioration, the same was true for 79% of patients who received CMM plus SCS.
Further study is necessary. Alternative and complementary therapies for pain are under investigation.
Can It Be Prevented
Keeping your blood sugar levels in your target range recommended by your doctor may help prevent diabetic neuropathy. The best way to do this is by checking your blood sugar and adjusting your treatment. It’s also important to get to and stay at a healthy weight by exercising and eating healthy foods.
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Diabetic Neuropathy Can Nerve Blocks Or Spinal Stimulation Help
For chronic pain sufferers with diabetes, one type of nerve damage that can be at the root of your pain is diabetic neuropathy.
High blood sugar has been known to injure nerve fibers throughout your entire body. However, patients suffering from diabetic neuropathy most often incur nerve damage in their legs and feet. The symptoms from diabetic neuropathy can vary greatly. The patients who come to our clinics throughout Southeastern Louisiana complain of:
- Numbness in their extremities
- Issues with their digestive system
- Problems with their urinary tract
- Discomfort in their heart
Some patients complain of mild discomfort, while others experience far greater pain. In some instances, diabetic neuropathy can be fatal.
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Risk Factors For Diabetic Neuropathy
The longer a person has diabetes and the worse the control of their diabetes, the more likely they will develop diabetic neuropathy.Those people experiencing complications of their diabetes elsewhere in their body are also more likely to have or develop neuropathy, as the same factors that cause these problems also contribute to neuropathy. Smoking, high blood pressure and being overweight also make it more likely that people with diabetes will get nerve damage.
How Quickly Does Neuropathy Develop
Some peripheral neuropathies develop slowly over months to years while others develop more rapidly and continue to get worse. There are over 100 types of neuropathies and each type can develop differently. The way your condition progresses and how quickly your symptoms start can vary greatly depending on the type of nerve or nerves damaged, and the underlying cause of the condition.
There are many causes of neuropathy. Diabetes is the number one cause in the United States. Other common causes include trauma, chemotherapy, alcoholism and autoimmune diseases.
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S You Can Take To Prevent Diabetic Neuropathy
You can help avoid diabetic neuropathy by keeping your blood sugar levels within your target range, which will help protect the blood vessels that supply your nerves.
You should also check your feet every day and have your feet checked by a healthcare professional once a year. This is particularly important if you think youve lost the feeling in your feet. Speak to your diabetes healthcare team for advice if you think youre developing any signs of neuropathy.
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Caring For Your Hands And Feet
Nerve damage can sometimes block feeling in the feet. Its important to pay close attention to your foot and hand health. Check your feet and hands daily for cuts, sores, swelling or other problems. You may feel like nothings wrong, but your nerve damage could be blocking pain signals to the brain. Avoid infections from any cuts or sores. Wash your hands and feet daily with warm water, drying them completely. Keep them moisturized by using lotion. Make sure your shoes are flexible, comfortable and give your feet room to move. Try to keep your feet covered. Slippers or thick socks can help cushion and protect them from damage. If youre doing yard work, wear gloves on your hands.
We are learning more about how to relieve nerve pain caused by diabetes. Dont hesitate to talk with your doctor about the nerve pain youre feeling and create a plan to address the symptoms that is right for you.
Management Of Neuropathic Pain
There are several different treatments for neuropathic pain, and the best treatment is not always the same for everyone, as you may not experience the exact same outcome and side effects as everyone else.
This means that you and your healthcare providers may need to spend some time trying a few different options before discovering which is right for you. The most common medications used for relief of neuropathic pain include:
- Over the counter pain meds
- Creams with anti-pain components
- Prescription pain meds
- Anti-seizure medications : While these medications are not specifically approved for the treatment of neuropathic pain, they do provide relief for many people, and therefore healthcare providers frequently prescribe them for this problem.
- Antidepressants: As with anticonvulsants, these medications may not be formally indicated for neuropathic pain, but because many people experience relief of neuropathic pain, and because there are few treatment options, they are often considered the most useful option.
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The Start Of Neuropathy
As we have mentioned before, neuropathy means nerve damage or dysfunction. You can have one single nerve that is pinched or compressed that causes you a range of symptoms. You could also have several nerves that are causing you problems all in one area of the body, or in two separate areas. Polyneuropathy is the term for when a number of your nerves are damaged or malfunctioning. Mononeuropathy is when one single nerve is damaged. Multiple mononeuropathy is the term for when you have more than one damaged nerve, but they occur in different areas of the body. There are many patients that fall under every single one of these categories.
Even though there are few categories to describe the number of nerves affected, there are many more terms to describe where a nerve is damaged and why. For example, diabetes is only one condition out of thousands that a person can have. There are 4 types of diabetic neuropathy that include peripheral, proximal, autonomic and focal neuropathy. These vary depending on their location and the symptoms they cause, but doctors know that diabetes complications cause the overall symptoms. People also describe neuropathy in the area of the body that it occurs such as:
- Cervical neuropathy
- Peroneal neuropathy
- Ulnar neuropathy
- Femoral neuropathy
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How Can I Prevent Diabetes
If you have diabetes, itâs important to manage your:
- Blood glucose .
You can decrease your risk of diabetes complications and diabetes-related nerve pain by:
- Following a healthy meal and exercise plan.
- Limiting your alcohol intake to no more than one to two drinks per day.
- Visiting your healthcare provider for a checkup and foot exam at least once per year.