Diabetic neuropathy is a health complication occurring in diabetes patients that typically causes nerve damage. To know more about neuropathy, read on…
If diabetes is bad for health then not managing it is even worse. This chronic condition raises blood sugar to abnormally high levels. With no treatment or inclination to follow prescribed lifestyle changes, diabetes worsens and excess sugar soon starts damaging the nerves that pass through the blood vessels. The result – the person gets diagnosed with diabetic neuropathy, a condition that is typically marked by nerve pain and poor muscle movement. This is because, muscle activity is controlled by the nerves and their damage can make it troublesome to coordinate muscle movement.
Different Types of Diabetic Neuropathy
We often link peripheral neuropathy with diabetes, however this is not the only one that affects diabetic patients. The different types of neuropathy that can arise from uncontrolled diabetes are given below:
As the name suggests, this type of neuropathy damages the nerves that run through the peripheral parts of the body such as the hands, arms, legs, feet and fingertips. In other words, they affect the longest nerves in the body. In most cases, the complications reported in diabetic patients have been associated with peripheral neuropathy. The pain is sharp, jabbing and followed by muscle weakness. Tingling or burning sensation in the hands and feet are some of the most common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy. As it affects the nerves that control muscle movement, peripheral neuropathy can also cause paralysis of the region that has affected the nerve damage.
When the autonomic nerves that keep a check on involuntary muscle movement suffer from damage, it is known as autonomic neuropathy. For instance, these nerves regulate heartbeats, manage bladder function, control the breathing muscles and dilate or narrow the blood vessels as per the situation. Uncontrolled diabetes affecting the autonomic nerves can create disturbances in normal blood pressure, making it difficult to breathe and cause heart and indigestion problems. Even difficulty emptying the bladder and poor sexual health due to erectile dysfunction in men can also be the outcome of autonomic neuropathy.
This diabetic complication damages the nerves of the hips, thighs and buttocks. Although, proximal neuropathy occurs in both types of diabetes, it is reported more in patients suffering from type 2 diabetes. This type of neuropathy can restrict lower body movement to a great extent. Proximal neuropathy pain is quite bothering and even simple activities like walking on the stairs can be challenging. Patients face a hard time completing their day-to-day routine. Radiating pain from the affected region is a common complaint among proximal neuropathy patients.
This is relatively uncommon type of neuropathy and far different from peripheral and autonomic neuropathy. In focal neuropathy, only a single nerve is damaged and so the effect remains confined to one particular part of the body. Hence, the pain experienced is not radiating and remains restricted to a specific region. Focal neuropathy usually strikes the head and its effects manifest in the form of eye problems. This indicates that the nerve that regulates movement of eye muscles has been affected. Discomfort at the back of the eye, double vision, problems focusing the eyes are some of the common symptoms associated with focal neuropathy. There also have been reports of focal neuropathy causing facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy), chest or abdominal pain or discomfort in the thigh, lower back, shin and pelvis depending upon the nerve that is damaged. Carpal tunnel syndrome, in which the median nerve located in the wrist and that provides sensation to the hand is damaged, can also occur as a consequence of focal neuropathy.
Managing the diabetes properly is considered to be the best way to treat this medical condition. Preventing diabetic health complications like neuropathy is not difficult and for that, one has to follow a healthy diet low in fats and make exercise an integral part of day-to-day routine. Ensure that fruits and vegetables for diabetics are given top priority when it comes to preparing meals for these patients. Physical activity like rapid walking or swimming can also be instrumental in controlling blood sugar effectively, thereby keeping nerve damage at bay.