November is National Diabetes Month, making this the perfect time to discuss one of the most common complications of diabetes – neuropathy.
The neuropathy specialists at Elevate Medical are happy to share insights regarding diabetes and its relationship to neuropathy with their Littleton, Colorado, community this month to help increase awareness. They’re also pleased to provide effective treatment solutions for this often-painful condition throughout the year.
Neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can cause varying degrees of pain as well as overactive or underactive sensation and loss of function in the affected nerve regions. It’s often referred to as peripheral neuropathy because it involves the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord, those known as “peripheral” nerves.
Symptoms are most commonly noted in the legs and feet, but depending on the nerves affected, neuropathy can involve other areas of your body. Your symptoms also depend on which of the three types of nerves are damaged:
- Sensory nerves, which interpret sensation, such as temperature, pain, or touch
- Motor nerves, which control muscle movement
- Autonomic nerves, which control functions such as your blood pressure, digestion, and heart rate
Symptoms of neuropathy can include:
- Constant to intermittent burning pain
- Sharp, stabbing pains
- Extreme sensitivity to even the lightest touch
- Difficulty with balance
- Trouble walking or performing routine activities due to pain, numbness, and/or muscle weakness
Neuropathy often worsens gradually with symptoms beginning in your feet or hands and traveling upward into your legs or arms over time.
The diabetes connection to neuropathy
Traumatic injury, metabolic problems, infections, exposure to certain toxins, and even nutritional deficits can all cause the nerve damage associated with neuropathy. The most common cause of peripheral neuropathy, however, is diabetes.
Elevated blood glucose (sugar), fats (triglycerides), and blood pressure can damage nerves as well as the blood vessels that supply vital nutrients to delicate nerve structures. It’s estimated that about half of people with diabetes eventually develop peripheral neuropathy.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help prevent diabetic neuropathy or slow the progression of this sometimes difficult-to-treat condition.
Managing diabetic neuropathy
The specialists at Elevate Medical take a holistic approach to treating neuropathy, which includes addressing the health of your nerves. The most successful way to manage diabetic neuropathy is to maintain good control of your blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol.
Routine exercise, that may be as simple and enjoyable as a brisk walk through the neighborhood, can improve circulation in your extremities. Normal blood flow to your legs and arms helps maintain nerve health. A nutritious diet also helps supply the nutrients your nerves crave. These measures are also vital to your overall health and diabetes control.
Once you’ve completed a thorough exam and neuropathy evaluation at Elevate Medical, your provider may also recommend:
- Use of diabetic shoes
- Massage therapy
- Weight loss
- Topical numbing creams or ointments
- Manual adjustments
- Possible vitamin and mineral supplementation to reduce pain and improve nerve function
Your specialist may also recommend regenerative medicine techniques, such as use of mesenchymal stem cells to help relieve your symptoms.
Schedule a visit at Elevate Medical today for a neuropathy evaluation and effective solutions for preventing or treating this often-debilitating condition. Book your appointment online or call the office in Littleton, Colorado.