Diabetes changes your life — and that’s often not just because of the condition itself. Roughly half of the people who get a diabetes diagnosis will also have to deal with a complication called neuropathy. Neuropathy is essentially damage to your nerves.
When you’re living with diabetes, it’s important to understand why you have a heightened risk of neuropathy and what you can do to protect your nerves. We want to help. At North Central Texas Foot & Ankle in Roanoke and Decatur, Texas, Samantha Childers, DPM, and Ricky Childers, DPM, offer dedicated neuropathy care. In fact, Dr. Ricky Childers is a member of the Association of Extremity Nerve Surgeons, putting him in a unique position to help.
What diabetics should know about neuropathy
As a diabetic, you probably already know that if your blood sugar levels stay too high for too long, they can cause a wide range of issues. We can attribute everything from vision loss to heart disease to sustained high blood glucose levels.
One of the most common complications that arises is nerve damage or diabetic neuropathy. There are several types of diabetic neuropathy, but the most common is peripheral neuropathy. This condition affects the nerves in your extremities. That means you might experience symptoms in your:
As far as symptoms go, they often include:
- A stabbing or burning pain
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of coordination
- Sensitivity to heat or cold
Left untreated, this nerve damage can lead to a total loss of feeling in all or part of an extremity. Diabetics often experience this in their feet. This can lead to cuts and blisters going unnoticed, even once they’ve become infected. In fact, when you hear about diabetic foot amputations, neuropathy is often to blame.
Why diabetes damages your nerves
What, exactly, is going on to cause all of these complications? People with diabetes are more likely to develop neuropathy because a lot of sugar in your blood causes nerve damage over time. Scientists also think that excess blood sugar gets in the way of your nerves’ ability to send signals. All told, the longer you live with uncontrolled high blood sugar, the greater your risk of nerve damage.
If you haven’t noticed any of these symptoms, continue sticking with your diabetes care plan. That usually means taking your medication, following your doctor’s diet recommendations, and staying active. This all helps to prevent nerve damage.
Treatment for neuropathy
If you’ve already noticed pain, numbness, or other warning signs in your extremities, talk to our team. As neuropathy specialists, we can develop a care plan that eases your symptoms and helps to prevent future nerve damage.
Your treatment is individualized. In some cases, we may recommend surgical peripheral nerve releases and/or peripheral nerve stimulator implantation.
Call or message one of our offices to schedule an appointment to get the neuropathy care you need.