Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most serious. When your blood sugar isn’t well controlled, it can damage nerve fibers throughout your body. Diabetic neuropathy most often happens in the legs and feet, causing numbness or pain. It can also affect your blood vessels, heart, urinary tract and digestive system.Diabetic neuropathy can’t be cured, but it can be treated.
Tight blood sugar control
For starters, keeping your blood sugar levels under tight control can help delay neuropathy’s progression and can even improve symptoms you may already be experiencing. This is perhaps the most important component of diabetic neuropathy treatment.
It’s important not only to keep your levels in check, but to keep them relatively stable. Rapid swings from high to low blood sugar can cause and worsen pain from diabetic neuropathy.
You can help do this by:
- Taking your medication as directed by your doctor
- Checking your blood sugar levels regularly
- Following the diet recommended by your dietitian
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Not smoking
- Eliminating or greatly reducing your alcohol consumption
- Seeing your doctor regularly (usually every month to every three months) for testing and to adjust any parts of your treatment plan as needed.
Depending on your symptoms, you may need to treat your pain. Treatments available include both over-the-counter medications (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) and prescription medications. You’ll need to work with your doctor to determine the best course of action for you. Side effects and interaction with other medications are possible with some of the medications. Discuss this with your doctor and weigh any potential side effects or risks against the possible benefits.
The feet are often affected by diabetic neuropathy, since the nerves that extend to them are the longest in the body. Oftentimes, many people are not aware they have cuts, sores or cracking on their feet since they have reduced nerve sensitivity. As a result, proper foot care is vital for people with neuropathy.
You may receive care from the doctor who regularly treats your diabetes, or you may be referred to a podiatrist for diabetic neuropathy treatment.
Uncontrolled neuropathy can lead to amputation. You can reduce your risk of amputation by following a foot care program:
- Inspect your feet daily for sores, cuts, blisters, or other problems. If you can’t see all of the areas of your feet, use a handheld mirror to help or asked a loved one to help check your feet.
- Clean your feet daily with warm water and a mild soap, drying them thoroughly afterward.
- Use lotion on your feet, but avoid getting it between your toes.
- Clip your toenails to the shape of your toes and file the edges regularly.
- After a bath or shower, use a pumice stone to file any corns or calluses.
- Wear socks that are thick and soft and that don’t have seams.
- Wear slippers or shoes to protect your feet from injury.
- Make sure your shoes fit well and allow your toes to move. Getting professionally fit with orthotic shoes might be a good option for you.
- Inspect your shoes before wearing them to check for any tears or objects that could injure your feet.
Neuropathy is a common and sometimes serious complication of diabetes. But with the proper care and diabetic neuropathy treatment, you can reduce your chances of developing this complication and reduce its effects if you already have it.