Sunday, February 25, 2024

Living Well with Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

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Introduction 

Having a keen understanding of Diabetes and its relationship with Peripheral Neuropathy can help you comprehend the reason behind nerve damage in the body’s extremities and allow you to manage your symptoms effectively. People with diabetes are often at the risk of developing Diabetic Neuropathy which eventually results in damaging their nerves. Many clinical research organizations in Texas conduct DPN clinical trials to help people manage their symptoms effectively. 

This article will discuss diabetic peripheral neuropathy, including its causes, challenges, and appropriate management in detail.  

The Dark Side of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Living with diabetic peripheral neuropathy can be a challenge and affect many areas of the affected individual. Sometimes simple tasks such as walking can become extremely painful since DPN can bring a sense of numbness, tingling, undying pain, and burning all at the same time.  

Besides, there is a certain level of sensitivity to touch which is often experienced by some people which may lead to injuries and infections. Other than that, living with chronic pain and the limitations of carrying out basic daily activities can take a toll on a person’s emotional and mental well-being. Hence, managing these sensations requires careful attention and a personalized management plan to drive satisfactory results.  

Diabetes – Is it the Only Cause?

Whether diabetes itself is the only culprit or not requires deep consideration. Diabetes is a condition in which pancreas that produces insulin hormone is affected. Insulin carries glucose to the body’s cells so they can be utilized as energy sources. Thus, diabetes is caused by either an insufficient or no insulin response. As a result, the blood’s supply of glucose builds up, leading to various issues and complications.  

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One of those complications includes diabetic peripheral neuropathy. This condition affects nerves due to chronically elevated levels of blood sugar and diabetes. Furthermore, it also influences other organ systems such as urinary, digestion, heart and blood vessels system all depending on severity of the condition. The symptoms range from nerve pain to ulcers further leading to amputation.  

Around 60% to 70% of people with diabetes can develop peripheral neuropathy. However, not all will experience similar pain. People can still manage to reduce the risk of developing nerve damage by keeping blood sugars close to normal as much as possible.  

Diabetic patients may also experience nerve compressions like Entrapment Syndrome, the most frequent being Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. 

Different Types of Diabetic Neuropathy

It is crucial to realize that diabetic neuropathy can be of several types. You may or may not encounter just one type.  Let’s look deeper into the details of each type. 

Peripheral Neuropathy

First and foremost, peripheral diabetic neuropathy still continues to remain the most common type. It is often regarded as Distal Symmetric Peripheral Neuropathy. It initially starts by affecting legs and feet, then further moves toward hands and arms. The main symptoms one might encounter include tingling and burning sensations, pain, cramps, numbness, increased sensitivity to touch, and various infections and ulcers.  

Autonomic Neuropathy

In Autonomic Neuropathy, the nerves controlling your autonomic nervous system are highly damaged. The Autonomic Nervous System is responsible for controlling your eyes, heart, digestive system, bladder, and sexual organs. There are high chances of developing symptoms such as hypoglycemia unawareness, gastroparesis leading to nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, eyes facing difficulty in light adjustment, bladder or bowel problems, and reduced libido resulting in problems with sexual response. However, these symptoms may vary in each person depending on the severity of the condition.  

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Proximal Neuropathy

Then comes the third type known as Proximal Neuropathy which often affects nerves in your lower extremities, abdomen, and the chest area. Symptoms that can occur on one or both sides of the body include severe pain, muscle weakness, and difficulty standing up from a sitting position. It is also known as Diabetic Polyradiculopathy and Diabetic Amyotrophy. 

Focal Neuropathy

Moving toward the last type, it is essential to know that Focal Neuropathy can be of two types depending on the type of nerve it affects — Cranial or Peripheral. It is also referred to as Mononeuropathy. This type of diabetic neuropathy can result in double vision, difficulty with focus, pain behind one or both eyes, facial paralysis on any one side, pain in the front of the thigh, numbness or tingling in hands and fingers excluding the pinkie finger.  

Lessen your Pain to Live Well

A person suffering from diabetic nerve pain knows the real frustration and struggle behind their condition. Sometimes they might go through severe depression. But where this is a struggle, there is hope, and a way to minimize the pain! 

You may adapt a few ways to successfully manage your pain to live well and with lesser pain by:  

  1. Controlling Blood Sugar Levels

The best thing you can do while living with diabetic peripheral neuropathy is to control your blood sugar levels as much as possible. You may do that by regularly monitoring your blood sugar, taking diabetic medications, or even insulin as per your doctor’s advice. Other than that, diet and regular physical activity can play a crucial role in reducing your high blood sugar levels.  

  1. Taking Appropriate Medications

The next thing to do once you have successfully gained control over your blood sugar, is to take appropriate medications to relief and lessen other symptoms. You have to find out which medication works best for you. There are, however, multiple over the counter and prescribed drugs available in the market. However, you have to make sure that you consult your doctor before taking any such medicine.  

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Opting for Treatment Alternatives

There could be certain alternatives that your doctor might suggest, provided the usual medical therapies do not work. These alternatives can effectively help you improve the quality of your life. Let’s begin looking at them: 

  • Local anesthetic injections — to numb the troubling area 
  • Surgically destroying or decompressing the nerve. 
  • Implant a pain-relieving device 
  • Electrical nerve stimulation 
  • Hand and foot embrace — to support the weakened muscles 
  • Orthopedic shoes — to help prevent foot injuries 

However, you may need to seek medical help as soon as you notice any unusual tingling, severe weakness, or unending pain either in hands or your feet. These alternatives can assist you in treating mild symptoms and preventing future nerve damage for the better. 

Take the Next Step

There are numerous ways to manage diabetic neuropathy and you have already read a few. However, the disease itself remains incurable. Currently, there are many pharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations (CROs) near you in Texas and Michigan that are devoted to finding solutions to issues faced by diabetics and improving their quality of life. 

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