Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects nearly 40 million Americans. While most people know that diabetes affects blood sugar, many don’t understand the toll it can take on the nerves. In fact, diabetic neuropathy is very common, affecting as many as 51% of those who have diabetes.
At Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation in Pembroke Pines, Florida, David Berkower, DO, helps patients manage diabetic neuropathy and take steps to protect their nerves and prevent painful symptoms. In this post, Dr. Berkower offers a brief overview of diabetes and its effects on nerves, so you can identify symptoms and seek treatment as soon as possible.
Diabetes and your nerves
Diabetes raises the level of blood sugar, or glucose, and over time, this elevation can lead to a number of changes that take a toll on your nerves. One of the most critical changes is a reduction in blood flow.
Diabetes damages tiny blood vessels that supply your nerves with the oxygen they need to function. Vessel damage reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients available to your nerves, which can lead to nerve dysfunction and painful symptoms.
Four types of nerve damage
Diabetic neuropathy can be divided into four types of nerve damage, largely depending on where it occurs.
This type of diabetic neuropathy affects the nerves in your arms, legs, hands, and feet.
Focal neuropathy affects one or a few nerves in a specific area of your body, such as a single nerve in your leg or hand.
Autonomic nerve damage
Your autonomic nerves control processes like circulation, vision, digestion, heart activity, and sexual function.
Proximal nerve damage
Proximal nerve damage is rare, affecting the nerves in your buttocks, thighs, and hips,
Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy
The symptoms you have will depend on which nerves are affected, but they can include any of the following:
- Tingling, numbness, or pins-and-needles sensations in your hands or feet
- Burning sensations in your hands or feet
- Problems with coordination or balance
- Muscle weakness
- Constipation, diarrhea, or nausea
- Bladder or bowel leakage
- Sexual dysfunction
- Vision problems
Since diabetes can affect any nerve, it’s important to take note of even the subtlest symptoms, so you can seek medical care right away.
Protect your nerve health
Early intervention is critical for relieving neuropathy symptoms, so you can feel better and improve your quality of life. But it’s also essential for preventing permanent nerve damage that can lead to disability or other serious health problems.
For example, ongoing nerve problems in your feet and lower legs can lead to diabetic ulcers, which are slow-to-heal sores that can lead to serious infections and even amputation. If nerve damage happens in your eyes or kidneys, delaying care can lead to blindness, kidney dysfunction, and kidney failure.
Dr. Berkower specializes in patient-centered care that focuses on each patient’s symptoms, medical history, and other factors to ensure each treatment achieves maximum benefits. Most people benefit from treatment plans that feature both medical treatments and lifestyle changes aimed at supporting nerve health.
Based on your needs, he may recommend:
- Medication to relieve pain and inflammation
- Nerve-specific treatments, such as nerve blocks or injections
- Nutritional supplements or dietary changes
- Increased physical activity
- Stress management activities
- Smoking cessation
Managing your glucose level also plays a key role in treating any type of neuropathy and in preventing permanent nerve damage.
Make nerve health a priority
Diabetic neuropathy can cause a host of uncomfortable nerve-related symptoms, but treatment can help. The key is getting treatment early, before permanent damage occurs. To learn how we can help you relieve symptoms and prevent future nerve problems, call 954-430-9972 or book an appointment online with Berkower Pain & Spine Rehabilitation today.