Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
CRI Lifetree is conducting a clinical trial for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
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1. What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
There are several types of diabetic neuropathy.
- Peripheral neuropathy results from damage to the peripheral nervous system. It reduces your ability to sense pain, touch, temperature, and vibration in certain parts of the body and may sometimes affect movement and muscle strength. It most often affects the feet and lower legs and may contribute to serious foot problems, such as ulcers, infection, and bone and joint deformities. It is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy. (The peripheral nerves make up an intricate network that connects the brain and spinal cord to the muscles, skin and internal organs. Peripheral nerves come out of the spinal cord and are arranged along lines in the body called dermatomes).
- Autonomic neuropathy is caused by problems with the autonomic nervous system. These nerves control the involuntary functions of your body, such as heartbeat, blood pressure, sweating, digestion, urination, and some aspects of sexual function. This is also a common form of diabetic neuropathy.
- Focal neuropathy affects a single nerve, most often in the wrist, thigh, or foot. It may also affect the nerves of the back and chest and those that control the eye muscles. It is often associated with conditions that compress or pinch the nerves such as carpal tunnel syndrome. However, carpal tunnel syndrome also frequently occurs in people who have diabetes but do not have focal neuropathy. Focal neuropathy usually develops suddenly and is the rarest form of diabetic neuropathy.
2. What causes Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve disorder commonly caused by diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar levels from diabetes can damage nerves throughout your body. Diabetes is a lifelong condition in which sugar (glucose) remains in the blood rather than entering the body’s cells to be used for energy. This results in persistently high blood sugar, which, over time, can damage many body systems. Symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst and frequent urination (especially at night), unexplained increase in appetite, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, erection problems, blurred vision, and tingling or numbness in the hands or feet. People who have diabetes are at increased risk for many serious health problems, including hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and heart problems, eye problems that can lead to blindness, circulation and nerve problems, and kidney disease and kidney failure. Diabetes is treated with diet and lifestyle changes and with medications (such as insulin or oral medications). If blood sugar levels are kept within the recommended range, the risk for many complications from diabetes decreases.
3. What are the symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy—especially peripheral neuropathy-initially may not cause any noticeable symptoms. If you have diabetes, it is important to have regular medical checkups to check for signs of neuropathy and treat problems before they become serious. If you have nerve damage and are making an effort to bring your blood sugar levels within the target range (hemoglobin A1c [HbA1c] of less than 7% over 2 to 3 months), your symptoms may initially get worse as your blood sugar levels lower. However, your symptoms should improve once your body adjusts to the lower blood sugar levels. Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy may vary, depending on the type of neuropathy you have.
4. Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy
Peripheral neuropathy tends to develop slowly over months or years. Symptoms may get worse during pregnancy. Generally, symptoms may include: Tingling, numbness, tightness, or burning, shooting, or stabbing pain in the feet, hands, or other parts of the body. Bone and joint deformities can develop, especially of the feet (such as Charcot foot). Charcot foot is a foot deformity that results from nerve damage in the foot or ankle. The nerve damage may cause minor pain and then a loss of sensation that increases the risk of injury to the feet; when the foot is repeatedly injured, the weight-bearing joints start breaking down.
This condition most often results from nerve damage caused by diabetes. People whose blood sugar levels have not been controlled well for 15 to 20 years are more likely to develop Charcot foot. Early signs of Charcot foot include redness, swelling, and increased temperature of the foot. A skin sore or infection may be present. Later, the foot becomes unstable and deformed.
- Reduced feeling or numbness, most often in the feet. Check your feet every day for skin problems (chapped, broken skin or excessive dryness) or minor injuries (blisters, calluses, or ingrown toenails). People who have had diabetes 10 or more years, have poor blood sugar control, or have blood vessel, kidney, or eye complications are at increased risk for foot and leg sores and possible amputation.
- Greatly reduced or greatly increased sensitivity to light touch or temperature.
- Weakness and loss of balance and coordination.
4. What treatment options exist for Diabetic Neuropathy?
There is currently no cure for diabetic neuropathy. Once it has developed, treatment focuses on preventing the condition from worsening by consistently keeping your blood sugar levels tightly controlled within a narrow target range. Tight blood sugar control means an average level of hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) of less than 7% over 2 to 3 months. CRI Lifetree may have a research study you can participate in. Initial treatment Treatment for diabetic neuropathy depends on your symptoms and the type of neuropathy that you have. Generally, treatment focuses on reducing current symptoms and preventing the condition from worsening by keeping your blood sugar level within a narrow target range. You can keep your blood sugar levels within the target range by taking your insulin or oral diabetes medication as prescribed, checking your blood sugar level often, following your diet for diabetes, exercising, and seeing your health professional regularly. In addition, it is important to properly care for your feet when you have diabetic neuropathy. This condition may cause a loss of feeling in your feet. It is possible for a sore or other foot problem to go unnoticed. Without proper foot care, an untreated foot sore can lead to a serious infection or possibly amputation.