Are You a Diabetic? How To Tell If You’re at Risk for Peripheral Neuropathy

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According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, approximately 20 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy- nerve damage that can cause numbness, pain, and muscle weakness. The condition is most commonly caused by diabetes, however it can also be caused by autoimmune diseases, certain medications, infections, and trauma. People with diabetes are particularly at risk for peripheral neuropathy because high blood sugar levels can damage nerves. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy often develop gradually and may not be noticed until severe damage has already occurred. However, there are a few early warning signs that you may be at risk for the condition. If you have diabetes, or are border-line diabetic, and experience any of the following symptoms- tingling, numbness, or pain in your hands or feet- you should see a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment is essential for preventing further nerve damage. Peripheral neuropathy can be difficult to treat, so it’s important to catch it early. There are several ways to help prevent peripheral neuropathy, including tightly controlling blood sugar levels and getting regular exercise.  If you have diabetes, talk to your doctor about ways to lower your risk for this condition.

Peripheral neuropathy, the most common form of diabetic neuropathy, affects the legs, feet, toes, hands, and arms. Many people do not know that they have diabetes and may not be aware of what’s causing some of the unusual sensations they’re experiencing.

Feeling numbness

A common symptom of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is numbness. Sometimes you may be unable to feel your feet while walking.

Other times, your hands or feet will tingle or burn. Or it may feel like you’re wearing a sock or glove when you’re not.

Shooting pain

Sometimes you may experience sudden, sharp pains that feel like an electrical current. Other times, you may feel cramping, like when you’re grasping something like a piece of silverware.

You also may sometimes unintentionally drop items you’re holding as a result of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Loss of balance

Walking with a wobbly motion or even losing your balance can result from diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Wearing orthopedic shoes often helps with this.

Loss of coordination is a common sign of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Often, muscle weakness affects the ankle, which can affect your gait. Numbness in the feet can also contribute to loss of balance.

My foot looks funny

Your foot may begin to look injured. This is the result of unusual shifts in weight caused by walking abnormally and the loss of nerve function, which can affect the muscles.

One type of injury is called hammertoe. It occurs when one of the three toes between the big toe and the little toe becomes misshapen at the joints.

Why am I sore?

You may begin to notice sores or blisters on your feet that you can’t explain. It could be that you hurt yourself and didn’t feel it at the time.

Sometimes you don’t feel pain or injury because of the nerve damage. This can be very dangerous. For example, you could scald yourself with hot water because you’re unable to feel a pain response to heat.

Hot and cold

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can also result in exaggerated sensations. Holding a cup of warm coffee may feel painfully hot. It may also hurt when a person with cold hands touches you. And your hands or feet may feel hot or cold for no apparent reason.

When pain affects sleep

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy often worsens at night. You may hurt so much that even a bed sheet feels very heavy and painful. This can make it difficult to fall asleep or sleep through the night.

The neurologists at THE BRAIN CENTER are specially trained in the care and treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy. To learn more information about how our neurology team can help with your diagnosis and treatment, call us at our office at: (786) 565-8735