How Does Diabetic Nerve Pain Affect You?

nerve pain

Story at-a-glance -

  • If a disease like diabetic neuropathy targets your veins, you can be predisposed to pain in different areas
  • Whether you experience diabetic neuropathy in your nerves or in other parts of the body, immediate treatment is crucial, as untreated cases can severely impact a person’s quality of life and possibly disrupt normal everyday routines

The nerves are one of the most vital components of your body. If a disease like diabetic neuropathy targets your veins, you can be predisposed to pain in different areas. Before this disease worsens, learn about the potential prevention techniques and possible complications of diabetic neuropathy or diabetic nerve pain.

How to Prevent Diabetic Neuropathy Before It Starts

It’s never too early or late to prevent diabetic neuropathy. Here are five ways to potentially prevent this condition from affecting you or your loved ones:1

Keep blood sugar levels in the healthy range — By doing so, you may help prevent or delay progression of diabetic neuropathy and improve symptoms you may already be experiencing.2

Keep blood pressure levels under control — The combination of high blood pressure levels and a diabetes diagnosis can damage blood vessels and reduce blood flow. Try to keep your blood pressure levels within the healthy range and have them checked regularly.

Maintain a healthy diet — Consume a diet that is rich in organic and low-net carb vegetables, moderate amounts of high-quality protein from grass fed or organically raised animals and substantial quantities of healthy fats.

Portion sizes can also be limited to help achieve or maintain a healthy weight.

Work out — Physical activity can help protect the heart, improve blood flow and assist in controlling blood sugar and blood pressure levels. The American Diabetes Association recommends around 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, for at least five times a week.

However, if you have severe neuropathy and a decreased sensation in your legs, non-weight bearing activities such as swimming or bicycling may be recommended by your doctor.

If you have diabetic neuropathy, make sure to consult your doctor or physical therapist first before performing any physical therapy to help prevent further injuries.

Stop smoking — Diabetes patients who smoke or use tobacco in any form are more likely to die of heart attack or stroke, compared to nonsmokers with diabetes. Smoking can also cause patients with diabetic neuropathy to develop circulation problems in the feet.

Beware of These Complications

Diabetic neuropathy is linked to certain complications, which include:3

Loss of a limb — Nerve damage can cause a lack of feeling in your feet.

This can cause cuts and sores to go unnoticed and become severely infected or ulcerate (wherein skin and soft tissues break down).

Infection risk also increases because diabetes reduces blood flow to the feet.

Infections may spread to the bone and trigger gangrene (tissue death) that may be impossible to treat and would require amputation of a toe, foot or lower leg.

Charcot joint — This develops when a joint, usually in the foot, deteriorates due to nerve damage.

A person who develops Charcot joint experiences a loss of sensation, swelling, instability and sometimes a joint deformity.

Urinary tract infections and urinary incontinence — There’s a tendency for bladders of diabetic neuropathy patients to not empty completely due to damage to nerves controlling the bladder.

The damage can cause bacteria to multiply in the bladder and kidneys and lead to urinary tract infections.

Plus, nerve damage can affect your ability to determine when you should urinate or your capability to control muscles that release urine.

Hypoglycemia unawareness — If blood sugar levels drop too low (below 70 mg/dL or 3.9 mmol/L), symptoms such as shakiness, sweating and rapid heartbeat may develop.

Having autonomic diabetic neuropathy may interfere with a person’s ability to notice these symptoms.

Low blood pressure levels — Your body’s ability to adjust blood pressure can be affected if there is damage in the nerves that control circulation.

As a result, a sharp drop in pressure may be felt when you stand after sitting in a condition called orthostatic hypotension. Dizziness and fainting can also occur.

Digestive problems — Nerve damage in the digestive system can cause constipation, diarrhea or alternating bouts of these two conditions, alongside nausea, vomiting, bloating and appetite loss.

Gastroparesis is also another complication of diabetic neuropathy.

This occurs when the stomach empties too slowly or not at all, causing nausea, vomiting and bloating and severely affecting blood sugar levels and nutrition.

Sexual dysfunction — Autonomic diabetic neuropathy often damages nerves affecting the sex organs.

This can lead to erectile dysfunction in men and problems with lubrication and arousal in women.

Increased or decreased sweating — The body is unable to regulate its temperature properly if the sweat glands don’t function properly.

Anhidrosis or a reduced or complete lack of perspiration is a life-threatening complication that can develop if you have diabetic neuropathy.

Meanwhile, autonomic neuropathy can trigger excessive sweating either at night or while eating.

Whether you experience diabetic neuropathy in your nerves or in other parts of the body, immediate treatment is crucial because untreated cases can severely impact a person’s quality of life and possibly disrupt normal everyday routines.

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