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Diabetic Neuropathy

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Doctor diagnosis patient with diabetic neuropathy

Learn more about Diabetic Neuropathy and how LA Pain Specialist can help.

Diabetic neuropathy refers to nerve damage caused by poor control of blood sugar over time. This nerve damage can impact extremities like arms, legs, hands, and feet, causing numbness or tingling.

  • Around 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes develop neuropathy
  • It can impact organs such as the digestive tract and urinary system

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Risk Factors for Diabetic Neuropathy

Risk factors for diabetic neuropathy include age, duration of diabetes diagnosis, poor control of blood glucose, high blood pressure, and excess weight.

Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy

Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy may include:

  • Numbness in extremities such as hands, legs, or feet
  • Shooting pain, burning or tingling
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Urinary dysfunction
  • Dizziness when quickly changing positions
Feet affected with diabetic neuropathy pain
Leg with nerve damage due to diabetic neuropathy

Potential Complications

The nerve damage associated with diabetic neuropathy can cause serious complications, including:

  • Loss of an extremity: the numbness caused by neuropathy can cause diabetics not to realize that they have a cut or sore on their foot. Diabetics are at a high risk for infection, and some infections can become so advanced or difficult to treat that amputation becomes the best treatment option.
  • Urinary dysfunction: nerve damage can lead to urinary incontinence and a predisposition to recurrent urinary tract infections.
  • Inability to detect hypoglycemia: most diabetics are able to recognize the symptoms of low blood sugar and eat something to correct it. However, diabetic neuropathy can impair a person’s ability to detect these symptoms, putting them in a dangerous position.
  • Low blood pressure: if the nerves that control a patient’s circulatory system are damaged, it can impair their body’s ability to adjust blood pressure.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: damage to the nerves that control the gastrointestinal tract can lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea or constipation.
  • Sexual Dysfunction: Diabetic neuropathy can lead to erectile dysfunction in males and difficulty with arousal in women.

How it’s Treated

There is no cure for diabetic neuropathy. Treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing progression and complications. Preventing progression of diabetic neuropathy means reducing the impact of contributing risk factors. In order to avoid complications from this condition, patients must keep blood sugar under control as directed by their physician. In addition, improving other factors such as weight and blood pressure can help prevent complications.

Managing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy may involve the prescription of medications used for nerve pain. If the patient is experiencing an organ specific problem such as urinary incontinence, specific medications or lifestyle changes may be prescribed for those symptoms.

Foot with diabetic neuropathy

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