Diabetes is a common disease affecting a large number of people all over the world. A majority of the people are affected with Type-2 diabetes where in the body is unable to utilize the insulin secreted by pancreas. In Type-1 diabetes the body either stops producing insulin or produces too little insulin. The management of diabetes is always complicated because it can later lead to some other health problems like kidney damages, loss of eye sight and neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy or the peripheral nerve damage is sometimes seen in diabetic patients with a long history. Treating peripheral neuropathy is very difficult because effective treatment is still under research stage.
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
The nerve disorder caused by diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. Though the nerve damages can occur anywhere in the body, the most common organs affected are feet, hands, thigh, arms and lower back. The occurrence of diabetic neuropathy is more common in aged people. High cholesterol levels and overweight also contribute to increase the possibility of this condition. Most common symptoms are pain and burning sensation on feet, numbness, tingling feet, and back pain, loss of feeling in arms, feet and legs. The symptoms often depend on the type of nerves affected. In addition to numb feet and tingling feet there will be indigestion, nausea, dizziness, general weakness and loss of interest to take food. These symptoms may be more severe at night.
THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DIABETIC NEUROPATHY:
This type of neuropathy can be classified as peripheral, autonomic, proximal and focal depending on which part of the body is affected. In peripheral neuropathy the patient may feel pain on feet, legs, hands and arms. The autonomic neuropathy is characterized by changes in digestion, bowel and bladder disfunction.The nerves to the heart, lungs or eyes are also affected in this type of neuropathy. Patients affected with proximal neuropathy may feel pain on thighs, hips, buttocks.In focal neuropathy the patient experience sudden pain due to weakness of one nerve or group of nerves anywhere in the body.
HOW DIABETIC NEUROPATHY IS CONFIRMED?
In normal cases diabetic neuropathy is confirmed after looking symptoms and physical examination. Inability to feel touch on feet and decreased reflexes are common signs of peripheral neuropathy. In advanced cases, Nerve Conduction Studies and Electromyography are carried out to confirm diabetic neuropathy. It is very essential to find out the basic cause when treating neuropathy.
WHAT TREATMENT IS AVAILBALE?
It is very difficult to treat the damaged nerves through drugs or other methods. The treatments are aimed to stop further progression of nerve damages through strict control of the basic underlying reason that has caused neuropathy. Therefore diabetic patients with neuropathy are advised to keep the blood glucose levels under control. Pain medications are given or locally applied to get relief from numbness and prickling sensation. Drugs include analgesics, pain killers, and hormone injections and for local applications, there are many neuropathy creams available over the counter. Many herbal and homeopathic medications are also used while treating neuropathy. Physical therapy and occupational therapy are prescribed for proper muscle movements and to improve blood circulation.
There are many support groups for helping people with diabetes and neuropathy. In US the American Diabetes Association (ADA) helps the members through education, community help and research on diabetes and diabetic neuropathy. One main objective of this support group is to fund research organizations to develop drugs and medications for treating peripheral neuropathy.
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