Living With Diabetic Nerve Pain

By: Florida Medical Clinic | On: November 19, 2015

Diabetic neuropathy, also called diabetic nerve pain, is a group of nerve disorders which can develop after a patient has experienced extended levels of high blood sugar. It is thought that 50% of people who have diabetes will develop some form of diabetic neuropathy.

Living With Diabetic Nerve Pain - Florida Medical CenterLiving With Diabetic Nerve Pain

Nerves and blood vessels are delicate systems. Once damaged, they can cause significant discomfort for the patient, including pain, burning, numbness, or a combination of these.

Chronic pain can be a daily challenge for both the affected individual and their family. Adjustment and dedication to a new lifestyle, as well as building a solid support system, can all help make it possible to live with diabetic nerve pain.

What Causes Diabetic Nerve Pain?

The exact cause of diabetic nerve pain varies from patient to patient. There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy, and each type affects different parts of the body.

Diabetic nerve pain is directly caused by exposure to high levels of blood sugar for an extended period of time. The relation between glucose and nerve damage is not yet clear.

Nerve inflammation is a source of pain in some patients. Inflammation is a natural autoimmune response which occurs when the immune system attacks its own body. Injuries to nerves such as those resulting from carpal tunnel syndrome can also contribute to pain or discomfort.

Genetics play a contributing role in certain patients. Some people are more likely to develop diabetic neuropathy than others for reasons unrelated to diabetes.

Excessive alcohol consumption and smoking may also contribute to damage in blood vessels and nerves.

Types and Symptoms of Diabetic Nerve Pain

There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy, each of which affects certain parts of the body. Every patient will be affected by a different degree of pain or discomfort, and each individual’s symptoms will vary.

  • Autonomic Neuropathy: Affects internal systems such as bowel, bladder, digestive system, sexual functions, the heart, and blood pressure.
  • Focal Neuropathy: Affects either a single or a group of nerves, causing sudden weakness. This type can affect any nerve in the body.
  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Affects a person’s extremities, such as hands and fingers, feet and toes, legs, and arms.
  • Proximal Neuropathy: Affects the individual’s legs, thighs, or buttocks, causing weakness in the legs.

Symptoms of nerve damage include…

  • Burning sensations
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Generalized pain
  • Weakness
  • Issues with urination
  • Muscle atrophy in feet and hands
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sudden dizziness or faintness when standing up

Living With Diabetic Nerve Pain

There is no cure for diabetic neuropathy, but there are ways to manage the pain. An effective treatment for one person may not work for another. When seeking an effective treatment plan, it’s possible that you may have to experiment and try several different methods before finding the one that works for you.

Most patients find that a combination of complimentary treatment types, such as self-managing options and prescription medication, works better than a single option alone.

  • Living With Diabetic Nerve Pain - Florida Medical CenterBlood glucose control: The most important part of treating diabetic neuropathy is to prevent or slow further damage. Both medicines and healthy eating can help keep blood glucose levels under control.
  • Choose a healthy diet: Opting for healthy food options, as well as limiting or eliminating alcohol consumption, will help keep blood glucose levels down and prevent further nerve damage.
  • Smoking cessation: There are many benefits of smoking cessation, and preventing damage from diabetic neuropathy is one of them.
  • Exercise: While exercise may be painful for some, improving blood flow can help slow the progression of diabetic neuropathy. Exercise may also help improve nerve health.
  • Painkillers: If pain from diabetic nerve pain is severe, especially if it interferes with work and daily life, painkillers can help reduce the discomfort.
  • Build a support system: Some people may find that a support system of friends, family, and groups of people who have diabetic neuropathy can be beneficial, especially to emotional health.

Chronic pain is not easy to manage. Exercise patience while seeking an effective treatment plan, and never give up!

Florida Medical Clinic

Diabetic nerve pain is one of the most common complications of diabetes. It can change the lives of the patient as well as their family.

While there is no cure for this condition, there are many options to help control and manage the pain. The Florida Medical Clinic Endocrinology Department is experienced and equipped to help guide patients through the challenges of diabetic nerve pain.

Together, we can work towards the goal of restoring your quality of life.