Neuropathy is a painful condition that affects nearly half of all diabetics, and according to your Richardson, Garland and Dallas podiatrist, an estimated 20 percent don’t know they have the disease.
What is neuropathy?
When blood sugar levels become elevated for prolonged periods of time, it can damage the nerve endings, particularly the nerves that are furthest away from the spine, such as the nerves in the feet.
The more damaged the nerves become, the more sensation declines, which may cause minor problems to quickly become serious. For example, someone who has neuropathy in the foot may step on a sharp object, such as a nail, and not feel it until it becomes a serious problem, perhaps inflamed or infected.
There are different types of neuropathy, including:
- Peripheral neuropathy that causes tingling, pain, numbness or weakness in the feet and hands. This is the most common type of neuropathy.
- Autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves in the body that control body systems.
- Charcot’s Joint, or neuropathic arthropathy, a breakdown of the joint due to nerve damage.
- Cranial neuropathy affecting the nerves connected to the brain that control sight, eye movement, hearing and taste.
- Compression mononeuropathy, occurring when a single nerve is damaged.
- Femoral neuropathy, affecting the front of the thigh.
- Focal neuropathy, causing sudden weakness or pain, double vision, paralysis on one side of the face, or pain in the front of the thigh or other parts of the body.
- Thoracic/lumbar radiculopathy, similar to femoral neuropathy, but occurring in the torso.
- Unilateral foot drop, a condition in which the foot can’t be picked up due to damage to the peroneal nerve of the leg.
How is neuropathy treated by a Dallas podiatrist?
Keeping blood glucose levels in check may help prevent or delay nerve damage. Consistently balanced blood sugar levels over time will give the nerves an opportunity to regenerate. Prescription medications may be used to treat symptoms of neuropathy, but there is no medication to cause the nerves to regenerate.
If you have diabetes, here are some important tips to prevent foot problems like neuropathy:
- See your podiatrist often. Have your feet checked regularly by a Dallas podiatrist to look for problems and take care of cosmetic issues that could lead to an infection.
- Wear properly fitting shoes. Shoes that are too narrow and rub the feet, or too wide, slipping on and off the foot, can cause blisters or other damage that could end in an infection, particularly in someone with nerve damage. Have your shoes properly fitted by a shoe expert to avoid foot problems stemming from poorly fitting shoes.
- Exercise regularly. Physical activity promotes healthy circulation, improves insulin resistance and helps control blood sugar, which reduces your risk of nerve damage. Avoid activities which may result in an injury and watch for hazards that could damage your feet and result in a more serious problem due to neuropathy.
- See your doctor regularly. If you are a diabetic, it’s important to maintain routine checkups. Your physician can help you manage your diabetes and check your feet for any signs of problems.
If you think you may have nerve damage in your feet, schedule an appointment with the Richardson, Garland and Dallas podiatrist at Metroplex Foot and Ankle today.