What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
The Silent Epidemic of Peripheral Neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy is the name given to the damage that is inflicted on pain sensory nerves as a result of diabetes. Most often the symptoms show up in the feet, but they can show up in other spots on the body. There are four types of diabetic neuropathy, and here is a quick primer to get to know them.
Peripheral neuropathy is most often symptomatic in the feet and legs. It usually presents as numbness, but it can progress to blisters, sores, and infections. This progression can happen over time since the initial symptoms often go unnoticed and untreated. Regular foot inspections are needed, and the minor symptoms will go away when blood sugar is controlled.
This type of diabetic neuropathy hits the digestive system. Symptoms occur in the stomach and urinary system and involve nausea, vomiting, and other digestive issues. The individual may have blackouts, low blood pressure, and an increased heart rate as well. Sometimes erectile dysfunction can be a result, as well as diminished orgasms in women. If the urinary system is impacted, one can experience leakage and the inability to empty the bladder.
This type usually presents as pain in the hips and thighs, and on the backside. Often it will present on only one side and can involve weakness in the legs. Physiotherapy and medication are the recommended treatments for this.
Focal neuropathy affects the muscles. It causes weakness and pain, and usually affects the legs, head, or torso. The pain in the lower back can be quite severe. Sometimes it will present as paralysis on one side of the face, and pain in the eyes. It can be mistaken for appendicitis or even a heart attack. It usually improves on its own, but it can be quite frightening.
No matter what type of diabetic neuropathy you have, it is best to get it treated as soon as possible. Even if the symptoms seem minor, they can develop into serious conditions if not dealt with. If you have any of the symptoms listed above, speak with your healthcare provider as soon as possible.