Of the more than 34 million Americans who have diabetes, half will have some experience with diabetic neuropathy at some point in their lives.
The complications that can stem from neuropathy are incredibly serious and even lead to amputation, which is why monitoring for the earliest signs of nerve damage is paramount.
To help you stay one step ahead of your diabetes, our highly experienced team here at Pain Medicine Consultants gathered together six of the more common signs when it comes to diabetic neuropathy.
Before we get into the signs of diabetic neuropathy, we’d first like to briefly discuss how this problem develops.
When you have diabetes, the levels of glucose in your blood can become dangerously high due to a lack of insulin or due to insulin resistance. Left unchecked, these high levels of blood sugar (as well as triglycerides) can lead to neuropathy, which is the technical term for nerve damage.
There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy, including:
- Peripheral neuropathy — a common form of nerve damage in your peripheral nerves
- Autonomic neuropathy — nerves that control automatic function, such as your bladder
- Proximal neuropathy — affects nerves in your hips, buttocks, legs, and chest
- Mononeuropathy — affects a specific nerve rather than a group
Each of these types of neuropathy produces unique symptoms, many of which we cover in the next section.
Six signs of diabetic neuropathy
Now that we better understand the driving force behind the nerve damage, let’s take a look at the signs of diabetic neuropathy, which include:
One of the first symptoms to get you to sit up and take notice is pain. With peripheral neuropathy, you may feel this pain in your feet and/or lower legs, which can present as burning, stabbing, or throbbing.
Proximal neuropathy can lead to severe stomach, hip, thigh, or buttock pain.
An example of mononeuropathic pain is when one of your cranial nerves is affected, which can lead to pain in your face (usually behind one eye).
Numbness and tingling
Nerve damage can also affect how well your nerves function, which is why numbness and tingling are common warning signs of diabetic neuropathy. These symptoms typically develop in your feet and/or hands.
Not only can neuropathy deaden your nerves, it can also make them hypersensitive to the slightest pressure.
If the neuropathy is affecting your autonomic nerves, you may lose control over certain functions, such as bladder control. Nausea, vomiting, and lack of appetite may also signal a problem with your autonomic nerves.
Rounding out the list are problems with sexual function and vision issues, such as not being able to adjust from dark to light.
If you have wounds on your feet or lower legs that are slow to heal, they can turn into very serious ulcers.
If your optic nerve is affected by your diabetes, you may experience increasingly blurry vision and vision loss.
Treating diabetic neuropathy
Whether you’re experiencing any of the symptoms we outline above or you’ve just recently been diagnosed with diabetes, we recommend that you meet with us regularly so we can monitor you for signs of neuropathy.
This vigilance allows us to act quickly to prevent irreversible nerve damage by taking the appropriate steps to slow or halt the neuropathy.
If your neuropathy has already done damage, we can discuss steps we can take to relieve your discomfort, such as spinal cord stimulation.
To schedule your diabetic neuropathy checkup today, contact one of our offices in Pleasant Hill, Pleasanton, or Corte Madera, California.