Those suffering from diabetes may experience many physical symptoms that could be caused by central nervous system dysfunction, known as neuropathy. This can be frightening for patients, but there is hope for alleviating pain and mending nerves.
Understanding how to recognize neuropathy enables patients to get the treatments they need before too much damage is done. Those with diabetes can protect themselves from permanent damage by consulting their physician.
The Common Signs of Neuropathy
The condition known as peripheral neuropathy gets its name from how it impacts the nerves related to and located near the extremities, such as the hands and feet. Depending on the types of nerves affected, patients will show different symptoms.
Damage to sensory nerves is related to tingling, numbness, pain, and burning sensations. This is due to the crossing or destruction of signals that the brain needs to process touch and other sensory functions.
Motor nerves regulating movement and neuropathy may cause uncontrollable twitching, weakness, or cramps. Untreated, this can lead to paralysis and loss of mobility and dexterity. Symptoms related to autonomic nerve dysfunction are more difficult to identify, as they are often associated with unrelated conditions. These nerves govern automatic bodily functions such as breathing and digestion.
Autonomic nerve damage is related to a variety of symptoms such as diarrhea, irregular heartbeat, and inability to regulate blood pressure, which is connected to dizziness and fainting. Some may even be unable to produce sweat and develop intolerance to heat.
How to Treat Neuropathy Related to Diabetes
Neuropathy is the most common complication associated with diabetes. It is notoriously difficult to treat, and many have suffered with it for years.
The cause of neuropathy is thought to be damage to blood vessels connected to the nervous system caused by hyperglycemia. However, it generally progresses slowly, and positive results have been achieved by glycemic regulation and the use of antidepressant or anticonvulsant medications.
Antidepressants and anticonvulsants are helpful in treating the pain associated with neuropathy and are generally used on a first-line basis to help patients through the therapeutic process. In addition, tight control of glycemic index is essential to long-term relief from neuropathy.
Never Lose Hope
Diet and exercise are the best choices for treating neuropathy, emphasizing the old “use it or lose it” motto. In addition to lifestyle changes, consult with a physician about treatment options that will enable you to regain mobility and reduce pain.
To learn or seek treatment, contact KCA Neurology at 615.550.1800.