Diabetic Neuropathy is a condition in which nerves get injured due to high blood sugar levels (diabetes). The increase in the blood sugar level can damage nerve fibres throughout the body. Diabetic Neuropathy is of four types that include peripheral neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, proximal neuropathy, and focal neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetic neuropathy is caused due to a constant increase in the blood glucose levels, which inhibits signals transmission by the nerves. It also affects the walls of the capillaries by reducing its capacity to supply oxygen and nutrients.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The signs and symptoms vary for different types of diabetic neuropathy.
In peripheral neuropathy, the most affected body parts are feet, legs, hands and arms. The following are the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy:
- Burning sensation
- Joint pain
- Loss of coordination
- Foot ulcers
- Muscle weakness
In autonomic neuropathy, the most affected organs are heart, bladder, lungs, stomach, intestine, sex organs and eyes. The following are the symptoms of autonomic neuropathy:
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Vaginal dryness
- Urinary retention
In proximal neuropathy, the most affected body parts are thighs, hips, or buttocks. The following are the symptoms of proximal neuropathy:
- Legs pain
- Pain in the lower limbs, buttocks
- Muscle weakness
In focal neuropathy, the most affected body parts are head and leg. The following are the symptoms of focal neuropathy:
- Double vision
- Lower back pain
- Chest pain
- Abdominal pain
- Paralysis on one side of the face
The causes of diabetic neuropathy are:
- High cholesterol levels
- Mechanical injury
- Alcohol consumption
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency
RISK FACTORS & COMPLICATIONS
The following are the factors that may increase the risk of developing nerve damage:
- Poor blood sugar level
- Kidney disease
- Being overweight
- Cigarette smoking
The following are the complications of diabetic neuropathy:
- Diabetic foot ulcer.
- Urinary tract infection.
- Sexual impairment.
- Severe constipation or diarrhoea.
The following are the diagnostic tests:
- Electromyography test is performed to study the health of muscle cells and nerve cells by detecting the electrical potential generated by muscle cells.
- Nerve conduction studies are performed to evaluate the function and ability of electrical conduction of motor and sensory nerves of the human body.
- Quantitative sensory testing is a method used to access damage to the small nerve endings, which detects vibrations and changes in temperature.
- Filament testing is performed to check the touch sensation by thin nylon filament rubbing against the sole.
Diabetic neuropathy cannot be cured completely. However, the severity of the condition can be reduced by consulting a neurologist.
The following are the treatment options for diabetic neuropathy:
- Monochromatic infrared photo energy treatment helps in regeneration of nerve tissues. This further helps in reducinginflammation and pain in the area.
- Physical therapy helps in improving the range of motion and also nourishes the muscles.
The following are the few tips to prevent diabetic neuropathy:
- Monitor the blood sugar levels on a regular basis.
- Always keep the feet clean and dry.
- Examine the foot regularly.
- Wear soft and comfortable footwear.