Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Nerve damage caused by diabetes is termed diabetic neuropathy. When it affects legs, feet, and other extremities it is known as diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy can affect three different groups of nerves: sensory nerves, motor nerves, and autonomic nerves. Sensory nerves enable people to feel pain, temperature, and other sensations. Motor nerves control muscles and give them strength and tone. Autonomic nerves allow the body to perform involuntary functions such as sweating. Diabetic neuropathy appears gradually and progressively worsens. The loss of sensation and other problems associated with neuropathy can lead to skin ulcers that can become infected and may not heal. This serious complication of diabetes can lead to loss of a foot, a leg, or even a life. Nerve damage associated with diabetic peripheral neuropathy is more common in patients with poorly managed diabetes, but even patients who have excellent blood sugar control can develop the affliction. Symptoms of sensory neuropathy include numbness or tingling in the feet and pain or discomfort in the feet and legs. Symptoms of motor neuropathy include muscle weakness, loss of balance, and changes in foot shape. Autonomic neuropathy symptoms include dry feet and cracked skin. Treatment options include trying to better control the patient’s blood sugar. Medications can be effective to relieve certain symptoms such as tingling or burning sensations.
“Preventing diabetic peripheral neuropathy can be accomplished by the patient maintaining proper control of blood sugar, wearing well-fitting shoes, inspecting the feet every day, and regular physician exams.”