What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
In the broadest sense, Peripheral Neuropathy is the presence of damage within your Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). Your PNS sends information from your brain to the rest of your body. As a result, when there is damage to the PNS, your body will exhibit abnormal feelings. The most common symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy are numbness, weakness and pain; these symptoms are most commonly felt in the hands and the feet.
I have Diabetes...Why is This Relevant to Me?
On average, 50% of those who suffer from type 2 diabetes will eventually also suffer from Peripheral Neuropathy. 20% of those with type 1 diabetes will suffer from this condition as well. It is so common, in fact that there are now different classifications of Peripheral Neuropathy that fall under the category of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy. It is important to educate yourself on the symptoms and seek medical diagnosis from a professional if you think you may have it, in order to prevent or seek a cure for it.
Why Does Diabetes Put Me at a Higher Risk Than Others?
Your nerves are very sensitive to their surroundings. One thing in particular they are sensitive to is blood sugar, also known as glucose. When your glucose level is repeatedly too high, that causes nerve damage. Recent studies have also shown that obesity, smoking, and/or high blood pressure in combination with diabetes significantly increases your chances of ending up with Peripheral Neuropathy.
What are the Symptoms of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Extreme sensitivity to touch
Feeling like part of your body is ‘asleep’
Lack of coordination
Sharp pains or cramps
Loss of reflexes
What Should My Next Steps Be If I think I have Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?
Meet with a Neuropathy Specialist. It is important to be selective in your choice of doctor. At Health Solutions, we specialize in trigenics and beating the underlying cause of your pain. Many doctors will try to prescribe drugs that will only temporarily subdue the pain.
Maintain your follow up appointments. The keys to beating Peripheral Neuropathy are increasing blood flow and stimulating your small fiber nerves. You need to be an active participant in your health and in trying to recover in order be successful in defeating the symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy; you will need the help of a specialist to do this.
Live a healthy lifestyle. There are many causes of Peripheral Neuropathy. Most of them have to do with living an unhealthy lifestyle. If you are trying to get rid of the disorder or lessen the symptoms, staying healthy is important.
What is it Like Living With Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral Neuropathy has the potential to lead to many other complications. You must make a conscious effort to prevent these regularly. These complications include:
Bladder issues - The nerves that are most commonly damaged in Peripheral Neuropathy cases are in the feet, legs, hands and arms, but, other nerves may become damaged. This includes the nerves in your bladder. When this occurs, it becomes difficult for people to empty their bladder entirely, which can lead to urinary tract infections. In especially severe cases of bladder nerve damage, individuals have experienced incontinence.
Preventative Measures: If you sense that your bladder muscles are weakening, there are ways to strengthen them and retrain them, such as bladder training and kegel exercises.
Blood pressure fluctuation - Nerves are responsible for controlling your blood flow. If these nerves become damaged, a side effect is difficulty regulating blood pressure. This can cause dizziness and even fainting if you stand after an extended period of sitting.
Preventative Measures: Many experts believe that exercising regularly helps to strengthen the nerves that control blood flow. This is especially true for cardio-heavy workouts. It is important to not push your limits if you take this approach.
Hypoglycemia unawareness - If you have diabetes, you are probably very familiar with the signs of low blood pressure. When you suffer from Peripheral Neuropathy, it is much harder to detect the signs. The most obvious hints are shakiness, sweating, and a heightened heartbeat, which are all things that commonly act abnormally for a person suffering from Peripheral Neuropathy, so it is hard to differentiate between what the cause is.
Preventative Measures: Stay aware of your blood pressure. Measure it more frequently if you need to.
Joint damage - Nerve damage can sometimes cause joints to deteriorate. Individuals with deteriorated joints often experience swelling and difficulty balancing.
Preventative Measures: Be aware of the signs. If caught early enough, you can prevent the damage from getting any worse. This happens most commonly in the feet. To stop it from happening initially, make a conscious effort to ensure blood flow to your feet regularly.
These are just a few of the complications that can occur to a patient living with Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy. To find out exactly what to look for and how to treat your Peripheral Neuropathy, schedule an appointment with Dr. Siegel today.