FAQ’s on Peripheral & Diabetic Neuropathy
What is Diabetic and Peripheral Neuropathy?
In the most basic terms, peripheral neuropathy is damage sustained to the nerves in the body. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is when this damaged has occurred as a result of diabetes, which is where the chronically elevated levels of blood sugar in the body have affected the signal transmission of the nerves.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy also affects the ability of a patient to feel sensations from their extremities, and possess symptoms that only worsen as the condition continues to remain untreated. Nearly 70% of all diabetic patients will suffer peripheral neuropathy to an extent.
What are the causes of Diabetic & Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy can occur from damage to the nerves along the spine, and may be caused by degenerative conditions, arthritic inflammation, or direct spinal injury that results in a herniated or bulging disc. The discs can compress one or more nerves that give sensation to the limbs, resulting in a loss of function and feeling for the patient. Peripheral neuropathy may also occur in patients who have had direct damage occur to the nerves of a limb, such as with injury.
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is the result of damaged nerve fibers due to chronically elevated levels of blood sugar. While the direct casual relationship of high blood sugar resulting in nerve damage remains unknown, there are a number of altered interactions between nerves and blood vessels when sugar is present. High levels of circulating glucose in the blood can weaken blood vessels. Blood vessels work to supply nerves with the energy needed to function optimally.
What are the symptoms of Diabetic & Peripheral Neuropathy?
The types of symptoms, as well as their location and effect on the patient, will vary on a patient-to-patient basis based on how long the condition has been present and the severity of damage. The most common symptom found among patients is full or the partial loss of sensation in the limbs due to damaged nerves being unable to communicate with the brain. This lack of signal transmission from the nerve will cause the patient to partially or fully lose the ability to detect changes of temperature through the skin, pain stimuli, or any other physical stimulation.
Loss of feeling due to neuropathy can potentially become life-threatening for the patient if injury is unknowingly sustained. Some patients with chronic neuropathy may also be at risk of developing ulcers on their feet, which in severe cases can require amputation of a limb if left unattended.
One of the strongest indicators of these conditions can be found on the feet, which will result in many patients having a foot examination with each visit to our clinic. Physical aspects of the feet, such as whether or not patients can feel stimuli through them and the presence, or lack of, ulcers is one of the strongest measuring tools to track progression of a patients symptoms. Blood flow in the foot and functional ability of the limbs may also be measured.
If our Denver neuropathy doctor believes that nerve damage is present, an electromyography will be used. This is a functional test of the limbs to examine how well the patient is able to transmit nerve signals through them, as weakness in the limb or slow transmission speed can be signs of peripheral nerve damage.
What are the treatment options for Diabetic & Peripheral Neuropathy?
The best way to treat this condition and prevent permanent damage for the long term is to manage the diabetes as much as possible. Control of symptoms will assist in keeping blood sugar levels low, prolonging the life of the nerves.
Medication for managing pain may also be given. This may include neuropathic medications such as Neurontin or Lyrica, antidepressants, opiate medications or anti-inflammatories. There are both oral and topical options for obtaining pain relief.
Spinal Cord Stimulator Implants for neuropathy may be an exceptional treatment for two reasons. Published studies have shown that SCS implants may provide significant pain relief, while at the same time helping potentially restore some of the lost sensation.
A recent study from Deaconess Hospital in Evansville Indiana showed that 85% of patients who received a spinal cord stimulator for diabetic neuropathy regained a significant amount of lost sensation. In over half of the participants, sensation was fully restored!
The top pain management doctors in Denver are with Colorado Pain. Board Certified, Award Winning pain doctors and chiropractors provide comprehensive options for neuropathy. Over 50 insurances are accepted including workers compensation, personal injury, PPO’s, some HMO’s and more.
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