Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a nerve damage caused by diabetes. This is a branch of diabetic neuropathy and is classified according to the areas it affects which include hands, arms, legs and feet. This condition is distinguished from peripheral arterial disease or poor circulation which affects the blood vessels as opposed to the nerves. There are three groups of nerves that are affected by this condition and they are motor nerves responsible for the control of muscles, autonomic nerves responsible for the performance of involuntary function and sensory nerves which are responsive for temperature, pain and other sensations.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy will not appear over a short period of time. This condition has been found to develop over a long period of time and will worsen as time passes. There are cases of patients having symptoms of this condition long before they are diagnosed with diabetes. The risk of developing diabetic peripheral neuropathy is increased by the duration a person has diabetes.
This condition comes with the loss of sensation a condition that is associated with the damage of nerves will make the patient susceptible to the development or ulcers or open sores on the skin and when they are infected, they may fail to heal. This kind of complication is serious as it can lead to the loss of an arm, a leg or in severe cases a life.
Symptoms of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is the most common condition in diabetic neuropathies. The most affected parts by this condition are the legs and feet followed by the arm and hands. The signs and symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy will worsen at night and will include:
- Numbness or decreased ability to feel temperature change or pain
- Burning or tingling sensation in the affected area
- Cramps or sharp pains
- Intense sensitivity to touch such that the weight of the bed sheet will be too much to bear for some people.
- Weakness in the muscles
- Loss of coordination and balance
- Loss of reflex mostly experienced in the ankle
- Serious foot conditions such as infections, ulcers, bone and joint pain and deformities.
Causes of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
The damage of nerve is more common in diabetic patients who have a poorly managed condition. However, it has been found that there are patients with excellent blood sugar that are affected by this condition. The theory behind this is that high blood sugar can potentially damage nerves. In the progress of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, various nerves will be affected. The damaged nerves will lead to or encourage ulcer development.
Deformities such as hammertoes and bunions resulting from, motor neuropathy can lead to a sore and the numbness caused by diabetic peripheral neuropathy will lead to the patient not being aware of the condition. Because of the lack of sensitivity, the patient may not know they are bruised or cut their feet and this may lead to infections.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Diagnosis
The diagnosis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy will involve the obtaining of the patient’s history is important and there will be simple tests involving legs and feet. The evaluation also includes the reflexes, touch sensitivity and vibration sensitivity. There might be additional neurological tests in some diagnostic processes.
Patients will play a great role in the prevention of diabetic peripheral neuropathy or in minimizing the risks of developing this condition. Important preventive steps include maintaining the control of blood sugar levels. The patient should wear well fitting shoes r shoes that leave enough room to avoid sores and they should inspect their feet regularly for redness, blisters, swelling and see a doctor if there is anything abnormal to arrest the situation before it gets worse and uncontrollable.
Patients should visit ankle surgeons regularly for examinations aimed at identifying issues before they become major problems. The diabetes should be well controlled to prevent the occurrences of complications that may lead to diabetic peripheral neuropathy and other health problems.
Treatment of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
The treatment followed in the management of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is focused on the control of the blood sugar and different methods are used in the management of the pain and symptoms. Medications are administered to assist in the alleviation of pain and other symptoms such as the tingling and burning sensation. In some cases physical therapy is recommended to balance the symptoms.
If the management is not effective, amputation might be the option left especially when there is an infection that is spreading to the other parts of the limb. All diabetic patients are at a great risk of developing diabetic peripheral neuropathy and it is important that they get all the information that will assist them in preventing and managing this condition and making their life easier.