What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral Neuropathy

Do you have numbness, tingling, or constant pain in your feet and legs? It is worse overnight? Is it hard to feel temperature with your feet, but they’re still hyper-sensitive to touch? If you answered yes, you could have peripheral neuropathy.

And, if you have diabetes, it’s critically important to understand this condition.

What Is It Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is loss of feeling mainly in your legs and feet, but it can spread to your arms and hands.

It affects between 60 percent to 70 percent of people with diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health, and it worsens at night. It impacts people differently, however. Some feel tingling. Others feel pain or numbness. But, overall, changes appear slowly as people age.

Caused by chronically high blood sugar levels (130 mg/dL before eating; >180 mg/dL after eating), peripheral neuropathy damages nerves, making it harder for messages to travel between your brain and your extremities. It can be particularly dangerous because you might not know you’ve developed an ulcer. Left untreated, ulcers can get infected, potentially leading to amputation or death.

Symptoms

Initially, you can develop numbness; tingling; a prickly pins-and-needles feeling; a burning or cold sensation; pinching; buzzing; or sharp, deep stabbing pains. However, as peripheral neuropathy progresses, these signs are also possible:

  • Touch sensitivity: Your toes, feet, legs, and hands can become overly responsive.
  • Muscle weakness: Nerve damage weakens your muscles, making it harder for you to walk or grab things.
  • Balance problems: Numbness in your feet can make you unsteady and uncoordinated.

Peripheral neuropathy can also cause digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessel, and heart problems.

Treatment Options

There’s no cure for peripheral neuropathy, but you can minimize your discomfort. Talk with your doctor about these options.

  • Braces: Hand and foot braces can reduce physical disability and pain. Orthopedic shoes can improve your gait and help prevent foot injuries. Splints can also alleviate carpal tunnel symptoms.
  • Complementary techniques: In some cases, acupuncture, massage, herbal medication, and cognitive or behavioral training can lessen neurological pain.
  • Medication: Some drugs approved for chronic neuropathic pain can provide relief. Discuss effective medications with your doctor.
  • Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation: This treatment delivers gentle electrical currents to painful sites via electrodes attached to the skin. Some studies show it improves peripheral neuropathy.

Protecting Your Feet

If you have peripheral neuropathy, take steps to prevent ulcers or sores on your feet. Follow these tips to avoid potentially serious wounds.

  • Check your feet daily for blisters, sores, or ulcers.
  • Keep your feet clean and dry.
  • Trim your toenails carefully. Cut them straight across, filing down sharp edges.
  • Wear clean, dry socks.
  • Wear cushioned shoes with enough space for your toes.

When to See Your Doctor

There will be times you’ll need to consult your doctor. Schedule an appointment if you see any of these changes if:

  • you have any non-healing cut or sore on your foot.
  • burning, itching, tingling, weakness, or the pain in your hands or feet interferes with your daily activities or sleep.
  • you see changes to your digestion, urination, or sexual function.
  • you experience dizziness.

Overall, knowing how to identify and what to expect from peripheral neuropathy can help you manage the condition.

Contact the Amputation Prevention Centers of America for more information.

Healthy Feet = Healthy Summer

Feet Healthy
According to Mayo Clinic, the average person takes about 4,000 steps per day – that’s over one million steps per year!

With summer approaching, here are some tips to keep your feet healthy and on their toes:

  • Walking barefoot exposes your feet to the sun. Limit walking without shoes on to prevent sunburn, athlete’s foot, plantar warts, ringworm and other infections.  In addition, walking barefoot increases your risk of injury. Important: If you have diabetes or suffer from neuropathy, we recommend that you never walk barefoot.
  • When at the beach or pool, wear flip-flops or water shoes to decrease your chances of contracting any bacterial infections. Also, always wear sunscreen on your feet when they are exposed to the sun.  Don’t forget to reapply every two hours.
  • Remember to always stay hydrated by drinking water frequently throughout the day. Drinking water will not only help your overall health, it will also minimize any swelling in your feet that is caused by heat.
  • Try to keep your blood flowing when being active in the sun. This includes toe wiggles, calf stretches, ankle flexes, and more.
  • Consider bringing an extra pair of shoes when participating in activities at the beach or lake. If your shoes will be getting wet, they should be dried out completely before you wear them again; this will prevent bacteria from growing.

It’s always good to have the following items stocked up at home or packed with you on vacation to protect your feet:

  • Sunscreen to protect your feet from getting sunburned
  • Aloe Vera to relieve sunburns
  • Nail clipper to keep your toenails trimmed
  • Flip flops for the pool, beach, and hotel
  • Bandages for minor cuts
  • Blister pads to protect your feet from getting blisters
  • Lotion to keep your feet hydrated and moisturized
  • Ibuprofen in case your feet swell from the heat

Contact Us for More Tips to Keep Your Feet Healthy

Remember to take these extra steps to keeping your feet healthy this summer.  If you are experiencing any symptoms of pain with your feet, contact Amputation Prevention Centers of America for further evaluation and treatment.

Preventing and Treating Foot Ulcers | Amputation Prevention Centers

Treating Foot Ulcers
With foot ulcers occurring in approximately 15 percent of patients with diabetes. Preventing and treating foot ulcers when they occur can be an important part of your health routine.

In addition to foot ulcers, if you have diabetes, your risk of amputation is 28 times higher than someone without the condition. Consequently, successfully avoiding foot ulcers or ensuring prompt healing can help you avoid the problem.

Preventing Foot Ulcers

Staving off a foot ulcer is the most beneficial option. To ward them off, follow these steps:

  1. Manage blood sugar: Before eating keep your blood sugar at 80-130 mg/dL before meals and under 180 mg/dL after. A healthy blood sugar level encourages faster healing.
  2. Pamper your feetConduct daily foot inspections, using a mirror to see the bottoms of your feet, if necessary. Look for cracks, cuts, blisters, and other signs of wounds. Wash your feet daily with mild soap and warm water. Dry thoroughly, especially between your toes, and apply talcum powder to deter blisters.
  3. Pick the right shoes: Select shoes that are tight enough to keep fabric from rubbing your skin, causing an ulcer. But, choose ones loose enough to not crowd your toes and be comfortable. If you need them, choose orthopedic shoes that can be custom fitted to the size, shape, and contours of your feet.
  4. Don’t light up: Don’t smoke. It reduces your circulation, making your blood flow problems worse. It can also decrease the feeling in your feet.
  5. See your doctor: Have a foot exam at least once a year to inspect your feet for circulatory issues, early signs of nerve damage, or other foot problems.

 

Treating Foot Ulcers

If you do develop a foot ulcer, there are therapeutic options available. Discuss the best tactic with your doctor.

  1. Debridement: This is the surgical removal of unhealthy tissue and bacteria from the wound in order to promote healing.
  2. Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT): HBOT works by delivering 100% pure oxygen to a patient through increased atmospheric pressure in a large, clear, acrylic chamber. This increased oxygen absorption enhances the body’s ability to heal.
  3. Living Cellular Skin Substitute: This therapy consists of the application of products made of living cells and proteins that can, over time, stimulate wound healing.

Within 4 weeks, if you haven’t healed — or if you have developed a bone infection — consult your doctor.

Be aware, foot ulcers can start small with a callus or a blister. Be sure the keep your weight off the affected foot as much as possible to avoid any worsening of your ulcer. Be vigilant. The soft tissue of your foot is susceptible to infection, so any problems can spread to muscle and bone quickly. If you notice any changes or problems, contact your doctor. Delayed treatment can slow down healing and even lead to amputation.

Contact the Amputation Prevention Centers of America for more information on preventing and treating foot ulcers.

Treating Charcot Foot: Surgery or Not?

Treating Charcot Foot
If you have peripheral neuropathy, there’s a chance you could also develop Charcot foot. This condition weakens the bones of your foot, as well as your joints and soft tissues, while causing painful sores or changing the shape of your foot.

As many as 2.5 percent of patients with diabetes can develop Charcot foot, and it can recur in as many as five percent of cases.

Fortunately, your doctor can help you in treating Charcot foot, largely reversing the damage it causes. Depending upon the severity of your case, you could receive medical or surgical therapy. Any treatment option you receive will have similar goals: take weight off the injured foot, address bone disease, and prevent future foot fractures.

Charcot Foot Diagnosis 

Imaging scans can help your doctor determine what treatment type you need. X-rays offer detailed pictures of dense structures, such as bones. MRI and ultrasound provide good imaging of foot and ankle soft tissues, potentially identifying any bone infections. Bone scans are nuclear tests that can also identify bone infections. A specific test — an indium scan — tags your white blood cells and follows them to the infection site.

Treating Charcot Foot

Whether your doctor recommends surgical or non-surgical treatment, you will get the best long-term results if you closely follow your physician’s instructions. Most specifically, wait until he or she tells you it’s safe to put weight on your foot again.

Also, be sure to check your feet daily for any problems, including scrapes or lingering sores. If any exist, immediately contact your doctor. The sooner you get treatment, the more likely you are to have a good outcome.

Non-surgical treatment: Offloading — keeping your weight off your affected foot — is the most important part of treating Charcot foot without surgery. For anywhere from 8-to-12 weeks, you’ll wear a protective walking boot or cast. The protective footwear should stay in place until any redness, swelling, or heat disappears. The Charcot Restraint Orthotic Walker (CROW) is a commonly used device.

The second step is prescription orthotic shoes. These shoes must fit appropriately, providing enough room for your toes and enough cushioning for the heel, arch, and ball of your foot. The right shoes won’t have any pressure points, reducing the risk of injury or ulcers.

You’ll also need to change your activities to avoid repetitive trauma to both feet.

Surgical treatment: Surgery is recommended for individuals with severe ankle and foot deformities that could make using a brace or other orthotics difficult. These patients are also at a higher risk for developing foot ulcers.

Surgery could involve re-aligning the bones of your foot or removing some that could cause ulcers. According to recent research, most patients with diabetes are able to resume normal walking after surgery.

Because infection risk is high post-surgery, you’ll be instructed not to put your full weight on your foot until your doctor gives you the green light. You’ll also need to commit to wearing protective footwear for life.

Remember, it is possible for Charcot foot to return, so stay vigilant with your foot hygiene.

For more information on treating Charcot foot, contact the Amputation Prevention Centers of America.

After Foot Amputation — What’s Next?

Foot Amputation

A foot amputation can be a scary procedure to face. But, completing a successful operation is your surgeon’s job. Your work begins after the procedure.

Knowing what to expect after a foot amputation can help you toward a speedy, healthy recovery. Your hospital staff will give you medications to alleviate pain and fight infection, but you need to know more. Here’s what you can anticipate:

In the hospital after your foot amputation

After moving to your hospital room post-recovery, nurses will change your bandages and will teach you to do so, as well. You will also start the early stages of physical therapy with stretching and some gentle exercises.

Perhaps, most importantly, you will receive information and guidance about your prosthetic foot (if you’re choosing to get one).

At home 

If your healing progresses well in the hospital, you’ll likely go home after a few days. Once there, be sure you follow your surgeon’s instructions about bathing, activity level, and physical therapy to ensure your best recovery.

Physical therapy starts with gentle stretching and will progress to exercises that will improve your muscle control, enable you to resume daily activities, and help you regain independence. It will also include practice with your prosthetic or assistive devices.

Only take pain medications prescribed by your doctor. Even taking an aspirin can increase your bleeding risk.

If you experience swelling, redness, bleeding, worsening pain, numbness, or tingling, contact your surgeon immediately. These symptoms could be normal, but they could also indicate a need for immediate attention.

Inpatient rehabilitation

If you have additional health problems or you’re not recovering your mobility quickly, your doctor might recommend an inpatient rehabilitation facility.

Healthcare providers will focus on wound healing, rebuilding your strength, preparing your leg for the prosthetic, and improving your mobility. They will also teach you how to care for your new prosthetic.

Ongoing rehabilitation

Prosthetics: If you opt for an artificial foot, you’ll need to be fitted properly, learn how to care for it, and how to walk.

It’s possible your leg will still be swollen when you get fitted for your first prosthetic. If so, you’ll receive a temporary one, getting the permanent one within six to 12 months.

Mental health: Losing a limb can be emotionally traumatic. You can develop feelings of depression, anxiety, grief, denial, and suicide. If you feel any of these emotions, contact your doctor immediately. Your care team has support resources.

Complications

Even successful surgeries carry risks. Blood clots and infections can occur with amputations. If left untreated, these problems can cause nerve pain, phantom pain (pain felt in a removed limb), and bone spurs at the end of your leg.

Contact your surgeon if you experience any complications. While it might be possible to correct the problem with medication, there’s a chance you could need additional surgery.

Ultimately, going into your amputation surgery with a clear understanding of what your next steps will be could put you on a path to a quicker, healthier recovery. If you know what to expect, you can be better prepared.

If you have any questions about a foot amputation, contact the Amputation Prevention Centers of America.

Why Your Peripheral Neuropathy Feels Worse at Night

Peripheral Neuropathy

The pain, tingling, and burning sensations from diabetic peripheral neuropathy can be debilitating any time of day. But, for some people, these uncomfortable sensations get particularly worse at night, especially when they’re trying to sleep.

If you’re in this category, you might have been told you’re imagining it. But, recent research from the Comprehensive Pain Center at Oregon Health & Sciences University indicates more acute pain at night isn’t in your head. In a study of nearly 650 participants, investigators found patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy — regardless of age, gender, or other health conditions — reported feeling the most significant pain between 11pm and 8am.

Next time you feel your peripheral neuropathy pain intensifying at night, consider these possible causes. In some cases, you can try to get the discomfort under control.

  1. Fewer distractions: At night, there’s less to take your mind off your pain — no chores, no errands, and no talking as you try to drift off to sleep. That’s when your mind and body become more aware of your surroundings. You notice your pain more, making sleep elusive.

To combat that heightened awareness, try to focus on something you enjoy to take your mind off what you’re feeling.

  1. Cooler temperatures: With peripheral neuropathy, according to Loma Linda University Health, your feet will be far more sensitive to cooler air. As temperatures drop at night, your peripheral nerves can begin to tingle more, and you’ll feel more burning or sharp pains. Your heart rate also slows when you’re colder, slowing your blood and increasing painful sensations.

If you can handle the touch on your feet, wrap up in blankets to warm up.

  1. Stress/Fatigue: Sometimes, physical stress and exertion can increase your nerve pain as your body begins to relax at the end of the day. Vigorous exercise and the soreness that accompanies it can contribute to more night-time nerve pain.

Be sure you alternate your exercise routines so you’re not over-taxing your body, and pay attention to when you need to take a break from exercise and let your body rest.

  1. Medication: Even though your medication might work well during the day, keeping you mostly free from pain, it eventually wears off. This typically happens at night, according to the Innovations Stem Cell Center. When you’ve been comfortable all day, you’ll notice the pain much more when it starts to creep back in.

 

Try these strategies to stay comfortable at night if your have peripheral neuropathy pain:

  • Control your blood sugar. Work to keep your levels between 80-130 mg/dL before eating and under 180 mg/dL after meals.
  • Soak your feet in a warm bath to relax your nerves at night. Be sure to check the water temperature to avoid burning your feet.
  • Exercise regularly. It increases blood flow and oxygen to your feet, reducing pain. Listen to your body, though, and take breaks when needed.

Contact Amputation Prevention Centers of America if you have questions.

Protect Yourself from Charcot Foot

Charcot Foot

If you have diabetes, you face the possibility of developing many foot problems, including ulcers, non-healing sores, and even amputation. But, there’s another condition you should know about and watch out for: Charcot foot.

Also called Charcot arthropathy, this condition weakens the bones in the feet of people who have peripheral neuropathy. It also attacks the joints and soft tissues. Over time, it can cause painful sores and actually change the shape of your foot.

Why does Charcot foot happen?

Your bones naturally lose calcium when injured, and, according to the Cleveland Clinic, that makes the bones weaker and more susceptible to further damage. The numbness from peripheral neuropathy increases the danger. If you can’t feel a sprain, a break, or an infected or lingering sore, you’re more likely to continue walking on your foot normally. In some cases, slow healing from a foot surgery can be responsible.

What happens?

Prompted by injury that often doesn’t get timely treatment, your bones lose the calcium that keeps them strong. At that point, your foot can start to lose its shape, and your arch can drop below your toes or heel. Doctors often call this “rocker bottom.”

Additionally, your toes might curl, and your ankle can become twisted and unsteady. Any misshapen bones can also press against your shoes, creating new sores that can also get infected and lead to amputation.

What to look for?

Diagnosing Charcot foot can be difficult, according to a study published in American Family Physician, because it mimics other conditions, including cellulitis and blood clots. Initial X-rays and lab tests can also often look normal.

However, there are some symptoms, other than the fallen arch, that can make you suspect Charcot foot. If your foot becomes reddish, warm to the touch, or swollen, talk with you doctor. You should also be concerned if you have instability in your ankle, any misalignment of the bones that form the joint, or a strong pulse in your foot.

Can you prevent it?

Yes, you can do things to potentially side-step Charcot foot. Follow this list for better foot health:

  1. Get regular check-ups with a foot doctor who has experience treating diabetic foot problems.
  2. Check your feet daily for swelling, redness, warm spots, and sores. Check between your toes, too.
  3. Wash your feet daily, and dry them thoroughly.
  4. Always wear socks and shoes.
  5. Keep your blood sugar levels under control — between 80-130 mg/dL before eating, under 180 mg/dL after.
  6. Take extra care to avoid injury, particularly while exercising.

 
Overall, if you begin to see these changes in your feet — especially if your foot begins to change shape — contact your doctor immediately. Any delays can result in further damage to your foot that could lead to infection or amputation.

For questions, please contact Amputation Prevention Centers of America.

Diabetic Amputation & Neuropathy — Is It Inevitable?

Diabetic Amputation
Diabetic neuropathy — nerve damage caused by high blood glucose levels — affects between 60 percent and 70 percent of individuals with diabetes. If you have it, your diabetic amputation risk will be higher. In fact, more than 50 percent of all amputations annually are associated with diabetes.

According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 86,000 people undergo foot amputations yearly. But, you can reduce your likelihood if you understand the role neuropathy frequently plays in amputations.

How Neuropathy Causes Problems

The nerve damage and reduced sensations in your feet make it far easier for you to sustain injuries and get infections. Because you can’t notice any discomfort, ulcers, infections, and gangrene can develop easily, and poor circulation makes it harder for you to heal.

If the infection can’t be controlled or the wound won’t heal, amputation is a likely outcome to remove dead tissue. Of the roughly 15 percent of all diabetics who develop a foot ulcer, 24 percent will face amputation.

In some cases only toes or parts of the foot are removed to salvage as much healthy tissues as possible. But, if the infection has spread, doctors might have to remove the entire foot or leg. Amputations require several nights in the hospital and up to 8 weeks of recovery time. Prostheses, assistive devices, and home adaptations can help with rehabilitation.

Ways to Reduce Risk for Diabetic Amputation & Neuropathy

You can reduce your chances for developing an injury that ends in amputation.  Following these suggestions can help keep your feet in tact:

  1. Don’t smoke. It constricts the blood vessels, decreasing circulation.
  2. Get routine foot check-ups. Examine your feet daily, using a mirror to see them if needed. Have a medical provider check them regularly, as well.
  3. Control your blood sugar. Keep your levels between 70-130 mg/dL before eating and under 180 mg/dL after meals.
  4. Eat healthy. Choose lean meats, fruits, vegetables, fiber, and whole grains. Avoid sugared juices and sodas.
  5. Get at least 30 minutes daily. Swimming and walking are good options.
  6. Practice good foot care. Wash and dry your feet thoroughly every day, putting cornstarch between your toes to minimize moisture. Keep your toenails trimmed short. Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to your feet to reduce cracking. And, wear well-fitting, closed-toe shoes and dry socks without elastic at all times.
  7. Don’t remove warts or callouses with scrapers or scissors. It can leave your feet open to infection.
  8. Keep moving. Wiggle your toes and twist your ankles several times a day.

 

When to Talk With Your Doctor

Even if you follow these tips, problems could still arise. See your doctor if you have any of these issues: fungal infections, splinters, ingrown toenails, corns, bunions, callouses, plantar warts, chilblains, hammertoes, dry skin, gout, and heal pain/spurs.

Although diabetic neuropathy greatly increases your likelihood for foot injury and possible amputation, following these steps can give you the greatest chance for avoiding this surgery.

Contact the Amputation Prevention Centers of America for more information on diabetic amputation and neuropathy.

Inherited Neuropathy — Can Numbness Be Hereditary?

Inherited Neuropathy

Eye color, shoe size, and height all have one thing in common — they’re hereditary. It turns out inherited neuropathy can be, too.

While it’s rare, children who have a parent with heritable neuropathy have a 50 percent chance of developing the condition, as well. It can show up as early as birth, but it’s more frequently diagnosed in middle- and older-age. Type 2 diabetes and obesity are also risk factors.

According to an Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology study, there are more than 30 genes that are linked to inherited neuropathy. A neurologist can diagnose whether you have the condition via nerve conduction studies, nerve biopsies, or genetic testing.

There are two common forms of inherited neuropathies — Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) and Hereditary Neuropathy with Liability to Pressure Palsies (HNPP). Overall, they share many similar symptoms. Individuals experience pain and tingling in their hands and feet, muscle weakness and loss of mass in their feet and lower legs.  They also experience impaired sweating, low blood pressure upon standing up, and physical deformities, such as high foot arches, hammertoes, and curved spine.

What Happens With CMT?

CMT affects approximately 1 in 3,300 people. There are many CMT subtypes, but CMT1A is the most common. It affects 20 percent of people who seek medical attention for undiagnosed peripheral neuropathy.

Patients with CMT have difficulty lifting their feet, weak ankles, drop foot, and have unsteady balance. They also exhibit poor hand coordination, making it harder to hold pencils, button or zip clothes, and turn door knobs. Additionally, they can be hyper-sensitive to cold temperatures. Muscle weakness and poor circulation can turn hands and feet cold, as well as lead to ankle and foot swelling.

Sometimes, individuals with CMT can also lose their knee-jerk reactions and experience hand tremors. This is called Roussy-Levy Syndrome. Additionally, weak breathing and shortness of breath are rare, but they can be life-threatening. If those symptoms appear, a respiratory specialist might recommend a ventilator.

What Occurs With HNPP?

HNPP is even more rare than CMT, appearing in 2-5 individuals per 100,000.

Affected individuals are extremely sensitive to pressure, and they can have difficulty carrying heavy bags, leaning on their elbows, or sitting in chairs. Frequently, they experience tingling, numbness, and loss of sensation in areas impacted by the neuropathy. These symptoms typically strike the hands, arms, feet, and legs.

Often, HNPP episodes last for several months. Long durations can lead to permanent muscle weakness and sensation loss.

Prevention & Treatment

There’s no way to prevent inherited neuropathy, but genetic counseling is available to parents who worry about passing the condition on to their children.

Additionally, there’s no cure, but ongoing management techniques can greatly improve quality of life. For example, pain medications, physical therapy, corrective surgery, therapeutic shoes, braces, and support devices can greatly reduce the impact inherited neuropathy has. A balanced diet and exercise are also beneficial.

Be sure to seek medical attention as soon as symptoms for inherited neuropathy appear. The earlier the diagnosis, the better prognosis and outlook you’ll have.

For more information, contact the Amputation Prevention Centers of America.

Can’t Feel Your Hands or Feet? It Could Be Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic Neuropathy

If you have diabetes, you know controlling your blood sugar is important. But it’s not just about monitoring your insulin. Healthy glucose levels help stave off diabetic neuropathy, a painful nerve condition that affects your mobility and quality of life.

What is diabetic neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy is feeling loss in your extremities from nerve damage. It typically strikes the legs and feet, but numbness can appear in other parts of your body.

What causes diabetic neuropathy?

Long-term high blood sugar levels (higher than 130 mg/dL before eating; higher than 180 mg/dL after eating) can injure your nerves. Once damaged, it’s harder for them to fire signals throughout your body. Nerve inflammation, genetic factors, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can also be factors.

Types of diabetic neuropathy

There are four main types. Talk with your doctor about which form you have.

  1. Peripheral: This is most common, impacting up to 50 percent of diabetics, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It starts in the legs and feet, can spread to the arms and hands and worsens at night. Typical symptoms include numbness, reduced temperature sensitivity, tingling, burning and sharp pains, as well as sensitivity to touch, muscle weakness, poor balance and decreased coordination. Because you can’t feel pressure, ulcers and sores are likely to develop on your feet.
  2. Autonomic: This neuropathy, found in up to 30 percent of diabetics, affects your heart, bladder, stomach, intestines, sex organs and eyes. It prevents you from recognizing blood sugar drops, and a sluggish stomach causes nausea, vomiting, bloating and appetite loss. Incontinence and constipation occur frequently, too. Sharp blood pressure drops and racing heart rates are possible, as well as sexual effects — vaginal dryness in women and erectile dysfunction in men.
  3. Radiculoplexus neuropathy: Most common in individuals with Type 2 diabetes and older adults, this type attacks thighs, hips, buttocks and legs. Eventually, your muscles shrink, making it harder to stand from a seated position. You could also experience abdominal swelling and weight loss.
  4. Mononeuropathy: Also called focal neuropathy, it’s most common in older adults. It affects the face, torso and legs, causing severe pain that suddenly strikes the shin, foot, lower back, thigh, chest or abdomen. However, it tends to disappear on its own within a few weeks or months.

 

What increases your risk?

Your risk increases the longer you’ve had diabetes, and improper blood-sugar control raises your likelihood even more. Existing kidney disease also releases toxins into your blood that cause nerve damage. Additionally, a BMI >24 and smoking put you at risk.

Can you prevent or manage it?

According to the NIH, exercise, following your diabetic meal plans, smoking cessation and taking prescribed medications can prevent neuropathy. Also, limit alcohol consumption to one daily drink for women, two for men.

If you have neuropathy, you can limit its impact. Maintain healthy blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol and weight ranges. Keep your feet clean and dry, checking them daily for sores, cuts or ulcers.

When should you see your doctor?

Any time you have a lingering cut or sore on your foot, seek medical attention. Discuss dizziness, new burning or tingling sensations or progressive weakness, as well as digestive or sexual function changes with your doctor. These symptoms don’t automatically mean you have diabetic neuropathy, but get them checked to ensure you don’t overlook effective treatment.

If you have any questions, contact the Amputation Prevention Centers of America.