Why Diabetes and Peripheral Neuropathy Are Commonly Linked

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition typically affecting the nerves in your feet, legs, or hands. If you have peripheral neuropathy, your nerves are damaged and can’t properly send signals to your brain. You may not be able to feel pain, heat, or cold, which presents numerous dangers.

Roughly 60-70% of people who have diabetes eventually develop peripheral neuropathy. But there are ways you can lower your risk.

The dangers of peripheral neuropathy

If you have diabetes, the blood flow to your extremities is likely not optimal, so it’s more difficult for you to heal from a cut, blister, or other injury on your feet. If you have a wound or injury and it doesn’t heal properly, the risk of infection is much higher -- which leads to the possibility of amputation.

Having peripheral neuropathy increases the chance that you’ll get a wound on your foot and not even realize it, leaving you even more vulnerable to the risk of infection.

Besides those very real risks, peripheral neuropathy is just plain uncomfortable. One of the symptoms is less feeling or sensation, but it can also cause:

The link between diabetes and peripheral neuropathy

You may be wondering why the incidence of peripheral neuropathy is so high among diabetics. Researchers think that high blood sugar and high levels of fats, like blood triglycerides, can damage the blood vessels that deliver nourishment to your nerve cells.

Eventually, the peripheral nerves become damaged because of the lessened blood flow. This damage to both your blood vessels and the nerves is irreversible.

What you should do to manage your risk

If you have diabetes, you already know how important it is to keep your blood sugar as close to normal as possible. You should also manage your blood pressure and cholesterol level.

Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, but you have diabetes, you should take extra precautions in caring for your feet. Inspect, wash them, and carefully dry them daily.

You should also be examined and have the feeling in your feet and legs tested at least once per year. In addition to watching you walk to check your gait, your care provider at Revive Medical visually examines your feet and legs and tests the blood flow and your sensation. For example, they may test your feet using a tuning fork or touch your feet in various spots with a nylon strand.

Although peripheral neuropathy can’t be cured or reversed, it can be managed. At Revive Medical, we use a combination of treatments to help you cope with peripheral neuropathy. We may suggest an anti-inflammatory diet, show you specialized strengthening and stretching exercises, or suggest a variety of therapies.

If you’d like to learn more about peripheral neuropathy and diabetes, make an appointment with us in either our San Diego or Oklahoma City office. We’re happy to discuss your specific situation and suggest a treatment plan that works for you. Scheduling is easy -- you can book your appointment by phone or online. 

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