Print Overview Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes. High blood sugar (glucose) can injure nerve fibers throughout your body, but diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet. Depending on the affected nerves, symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can range from pain and numbness in your extremities to problems with your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels and heart. For some people, these symptoms are mild; for others, diabetic neuropathy can be painful, disabling and even fatal. Diabetic neuropathy is a common serious complication of diabetes. Yet you can often prevent diabetic neuropathy or slow its progress with tight blood sugar control and a healthy lifestyle. Symptoms There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy. You may have just one type or symptoms of several types. Most develop gradually, and you may not notice problems until considerable damage has occurred. The signs and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy vary, depending on the type of neuropathy and which nerves are affected. Peripheral neuropathy Peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy. Your feet and legs are often affected first, followed by your hands and arms. Signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are often worse at night, and may include: Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain or temperature changes A tingling or burning sensation Sharp pains or cramps Increased sensitivity to touch — for some people, even the weight of a bed sheet can be agonizing Muscle weakness Loss of reflexes, especially in the ankle Loss of balance and coordination Serious foot problems, such as ulcers, infections, deformities, and bone and joint pain Autonomic neuropathy The autonomic nervous system controls your hea Continue reading >>
Caring For Diabetes-related Nerve Disorders (neuropathy)
What is diabetic neuropathy? Some diseases consume the body like wildfire. Others are more like a slow burn. Diabetes is a malady that takes its time. If not controlled, diabetes slowly eats away at the body's cells, especially nerve cells. Doctors call the gradual breakdown of nerve cells "neuropathy." At first, nobody misses a few dead cells here and there. But after a decade or two, the damage can be impossible to ignore. Many patients suffer numbness or the opposite, extreme pain. As a result of decreased sensation, many people with diabetes may not be aware when they've broken the skin or suffered a cut or scrape on one of their feet. Bacteria can then set up housekeeping -- an invasion aided by impaired circulation and small vessel disease caused by diabetes. In some cases, these unnoticed infections can lead to raging infections and loss of the limb. Despite many recent advances in diabetes treatment, neuropathy remains frighteningly common. About 60 to 70 percent of people with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes will eventually develop nerve damage, though not all of them will have symptoms. But if you have diabetes, remember this: the key to avoiding nerve damage is prevention. By carefully controlling your blood sugar, you can help keep your nerve cells out of harm's way. What causes diabetic neuropathy? When people with diabetes experience pain, tingling, numbness or other sensory symptoms, typically in the feet, high blood sugar seems to be the real culprit. In general, nerve cells only start dying when blood sugar stays too high over a long period of time. Nobody knows why extra sugar is so toxic. Perhaps it upsets the chemical balance in the nerves. Or perhaps the sugar slows down blood circulation and cuts off the oxygen supply to the nervous system. Expert Continue reading >>
Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms
The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy depend on what type of neuropathy you have. Symptoms are dependent on which nerves have been damaged. In general, diabetic neuropathy symptoms develop gradually; they may seem like minor and infrequent pains or problems at first, but as the nerves become more damaged, symptoms may grow. Don’t overlook mild symptoms. They can indicate the beginning of neuropathy. Talk to your doctor about anything you notice—such as any pain, numbness, weakness, or tingling—even if it seems insignificant. Your pain may mean the control of your diabetes could be improved, which will can help slow down the progression of your neuropathy. Pain and numbness are also important warning signs to take very good care of your feet, so you can avoid wounds and infections that can be difficult to heal and even raise risk for amputation. 1 Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms Peripheral neuropathy affects nerves leading to your extremities—the feet, legs, hands, and arms. The nerves leading to your feet are the longest in your body, so they are the most often affected nerves (simply because there’s more of them to be damaged). Peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy symptoms include: Pain Burning, stabbing or electric-shock sensations Numbness (loss of feeling) Tingling Muscle weakness Poor coordination Muscle cramping and/or twitching Insensitivity to pain and/or temperature Extreme sensitivity to even the lightest touch Symptoms get worse at night. 2, 3 Autonomic Neuropathy Symptoms The autonomic nervous system is in charge of the "involuntary" functions of your body. It keeps your heart pumping and makes sure you digest your food right—without you needing to think about it. Autonomic neuropathy symptoms i Continue reading >>
Why Does Type 2 Diabetes Cause Your Feet To Go Numb?
Numbness in the feet is a symptom of neuropathy or nerve damage, one of the most common long-term complications of type 2 diabetes. Neuropathy is caused by poor blood sugar control that persists over a long period of time. “The higher the blood sugars and the longer they stay high, the greater the chance of the person developing neuropathy,” says Joel Zonszein, MD, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at the University Hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Montefiore Health System in the Bronx, New York. “The nerves that get affected by high sugars tend to be the longest nerves in the body,” explains Dr. Zonszein. These nerves go from the spine to the toes, which is why the feet get affected before the arms or hands. Diabetic neuropathy also tends to be bilateral. “Both feet will be affected equally,” he says. If blood sugar remains poorly controlled, it can lead to serious complications. In the feet, diabetic neuropathy can not only cause numbness but pain and injuries. It can change the shape of your feet, deforming them so they no longer fit into regular shoes. It can also dry out and damage your skin, cause calluses and ulcers on your feet, and interfere with circulation. The numbness also makes it hard to tell if there is a cut or injury which can increase your risk of infections and amputation. People with diabetes are also at an increased risk for amputation. In 2010, approximately 73,000 non-traumatic lower-limb amputations were performed on adults (20 years or older) diagnosed with diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. The good news is that most amputations are preventable when you manage your diabetes well, take good care of your feet, and wear proper footwear. If you have circulatory problems or you’ve alre Continue reading >>
Healing Numb Feet
Overview of treatment approaches: • Nondrug therapies • Relaxation and biofeedback • Anodyne therapy • Exercise • Massage • Daily foot care Diabetes is hard on feet. Because the feet are farthest from the heart, any problems with blood flow can leave feet without enough circulation. Results can include numbness, loss of foot strength, and worse. Fortunately, there are some good ways to heal and protect your feet. As Birgitta I. Rice, MS, RPh, CHES, wrote here, much of the pain and numbness people with diabetes experience comes from nerve damage. The nerves are injured both by poor circulation and by high glucose levels. We really need healthy nerves. (As a person with a nerve disease, I know about this.) According to Rice, “Loss of nerve fibers can result in muscle weakness, numbness, loss of reflexes, foot deformities, change in gait, and impaired balance and coordination. Loss of sensitivity to pain or temperature can also occur, leading in turn to blisters and sores from foot injuries that go unfelt.” Numbness is dangerous. Sometimes, people can have a pebble in their shoe and not notice it. Others may get in a hot bath and not realize their feet are being scalded. These kinds of seemingly minor things can lead to infections, which don’t heal because of having poor circulation. This is the major pathway to losing a leg to amputation. People with diabetes are eight times more likely than other people to have a lower leg amputated. If you just woke up one day with numb feet, you would notice a big difference and ask about ways to treat it. It doesn’t work that way, though. Numbness comes on slowly over years, so you don’t notice day-to-day changes. Also, severe pain often comes before numbness, so that the numbness is perceived as a relief rather Continue reading >>
Can Diabetic Neuropathy Be Reversed?
Diabetic neuropathy refers to nerve damage caused by diabetes. Neuropathy is a common condition impacting 60 to 70 percent of adults with diabetes. However, it mainly concerns those with uncontrolled blood sugar levels or those who have had diabetes for more than 25 years. The nerve damage caused by diabetic neuropathy is irreversible but there are ways to lessen symptoms and prevent further harm. Contents of this article: What is diabetic neuropathy? Diabetic neuropathy is a family of progressive nerve disorders related to type 1 and 2 diabetes. Although research is still taking place on this type of nerve damage, doctors think that blood sugars may damage nerve cells by impairing nerve fibers and reducing or confusing signaling. However, nerve damage is likely to be caused by a combination of factors, such as how the immune system functions, genetics, smoking, or alcohol use. Neuropathy can cause a range of symptoms, including pain, loss of sensation, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness. Although neuropathy can occur wherever there are nerves, it tends to affect the legs and feet. Those with diabetic neuropathy tend to: have poor blood sugar control be over the age of 40 be overweight or obese have had diabetes for at least 10 to 25 years, depending on the severity Types Diabetic neuropathy is typically divided into four categories depending on which nerves are affected. Peripheral neuropathy Nerve damage that impacts the ability of the peripheral nerves to sense things, such as temperature and touch. Peripheral neuropathy most commonly affects the arms, hands, legs, feet, and toes, often causing pain or loss of feeling. It is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy. Proximal neuropathy Nerve damage resulting in pain in the hips, thighs, pelvis, and buttocks. Continue reading >>
Symptoms Of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a condition caused by long-term high blood sugar levels, which causes nerve damage. Some people will not have any symptoms. But for others symptoms may be debilitating. Between 60 and 70 percent of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 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. People unaware of their diabetes may not know what’s causing some of the unusual sensations they’re experiencing. Nerve damage is the result of high levels of blood glucose over long periods of time. It isn’t entirely clear why high glucose levels damage nerves. A number of factors may play a role in nerve fiber damage. One possible component is the intricate interplay between the blood vessels and nerves, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other factors include high blood pressure and cholesterol levels and nerve inflammation. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy usually first appears in the feet and legs, and may occur in the hands and arms later. 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. 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. Walking with a wobbly motion or even losing your balance can res Continue reading >>
What Can I Do For Numb, Painful Feet And Legs?
My husband was diagnosed with diabetes almost a year ago. At first he was experiencing numbness in his feet. Over the past few months, he began having pain as well, sometimes as far up his leg as his calf. What can we do to help these symptoms? I have read that vitamin E and even flaxseed oil are good for the circulation. Would those be helpful? Continue reading >>
What Are The Treatments For Numb Feet In Diabetes?
Numbness of the feet may be a symptom of diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage. Diabetes damages the nerve endings, which leads to neuropathy. One type of diabetic neuropathy is peripheral neuropathy, which affects such body parts as the feet, legs and hands. Neuropathy is not curable, but proper treatment can help prevent the condition from becoming worse, according to a statement paper by the American Diabetic Association in the April 2005 issue of “Diabetes Care." Video of the Day Feet require special care among individuals with diabetes. Not only does diabetes damage nerve endings, the condition hinders the body’s ability to fight infections. Having numbness or reduced sensation in the feet may inhibit one’s awareness of feeling blisters or sores on the feet, which may easily lead to medical complications, such as foot ulcers, serious infections or amputations, according to a 2003 issue of “Lancet." To help prevent medical complications among individuals with numb feet, the American Diabetic Association advises checking feet daily for sores, blisters and cuts. Primary care providers and podiatrists can also check the feet during examinations. Also recommended is checking shoes for rough edges and small objects before putting them on. If foot sores are found, the American Diabetic Association advises seeking medical attention from a podiatrist or primary care provider. Diabetic neuropathy may get better with improved management of blood glucose levels, or blood sugar levels, according to the “Diabetes Care” article. Taking insulin or diabetes medication can help keep blood glucose levels within target range as established by a health care provider. Types of insulin include regular insulin, long-acting insulin and rapid-acting insulin. A health care provide Continue reading >>
Can Diabetes Cause Numbness On Only One Side?
Numbness on one side of a large portion of the body is not normally caused by diabetes. It also depends on how much of the body you’re referring to. While diabetic neuropathy can cause numbness in one foot or in one lower leg, it usually starts in both lower extremities at about the same time. Diabetes will not cause one side of the entire body to go numb. However, the condition of diabetic proximal neuropathy typically begins on one side (thigh, pelvic and lower back region) and remains asymmetric in most patients for about three months, according to a study. But within three months, the other side becomes affected. But there’s more: Diabetic proximal neuropathy, despite its name, the condition does not involve numbness. “The condition is characterized by severe, typically asymmetric leg pain and weakness,” says a report in Neurology Today (Feb. 2004). A report in Neurology (1999) details a study in which this condition began on one side for 33 patients. An average of three months later it was bilateral for 32. Another name for this condition is diabetic amyotrophy. Numbness on One Side of Body in Diabetes In distal neuropathy, the hands or feet are affected, causing numbness or tingling. It usually and gradually affects both feet or both hands, but can also be asymmetric—affecting just one hand or foot. This is a focalized problem; an entire leg or entire arm is not affected. In more generalized diabetic neuropathy, the legs are often the first to be affected (numbness, tingling, burning, cramping, sharp pains), and sometimes the upper limbs also become affected. But diabetes does not cause one side of the entire body to go numb while the other side is perfectly fine. Mononeuropathy, as its name suggests, affects only one side, and that one side can be a leg Continue reading >>
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Numbness Toes: Symptoms & Signs
Numbness of the toes generally is a result of conditions that affect the nerves and/or blood vessels that supply the foot. Numbness of the toes is often associated with tingling. Numbness and tingling sensations in the toes is referred to as paresthesia of the toes. The most common cause of toe numbness is direct compression of the nerves of the foot from footwear from shoes. Numbness of the toe can occur because of injury to the foot, nerve damage (neuropathy), and poor circulation to the foot (such as with diabetes and peripheral vascular disease). Numbness to the foot can also be caused by irritation of nerves in the low back with radiculopathy and herniated disc, Guillain-Barré syndrome, frostbite, stroke, diabetic neuropathy, beriberi, multiple sclerosis (MS), Raynaud's phenomenon, and vasculitis. There is increased potential for irritation of nerves in the foot when skeletal deformity occurs, such as from bunions. REFERENCE: Firestein, Gary S., et al. Kelley's Textbook of Rheumatology, Ninth Ed. China: Elsevier Saunders, 2012. Continue reading >>
What Is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetes can harm your nerves. That damage, called neuropathy, may be painful. It can happen in several ways, and they all seem to be related to blood sugar levels being too high for too long. To prevent it, work with your doctor to manage your blood sugar. You may hear your doctor mention the four types of diabetes-related neuropathy: peripheral, autonomic, proximal, and focal. Peripheral Neuropathy This type usually affects the feet and legs. Rare cases affect the arms, abdomen, and back. Symptoms include: Tingling Numbness (which may become permanent) Burning (especially in the evening) Pain Early symptoms usually get better when your blood sugar is under control. There are medications to help manage the discomfort. What you should do: Check your feet and legs daily. Use lotion on your feet if they're dry. Take care of your toenails. Ask your doctor if you should go to a podiatrist. Wear shoes that fit well. Wear them all the time, so your feet don't get injured. Autonomic Neuropathy This type usually affects the digestive system, especially the stomach. It can also affect the blood vessels, urinary system, and sex organs. In your digestive system: Symptoms include: Bloating Diarrhea Constipation Heartburn Nausea Vomiting Feeling full after small meals What you should do: You may need to eat smaller meals and take medication to treat it. In blood vessels: Symptoms include: Blacking out when you stand up quickly Faster heartbeat Dizziness Low blood pressure Nausea Vomiting Feeling full sooner than normal If you have it: Avoid standing up too quickly. You may also need to wear special stockings (ask your doctor about them) and take medicine. In Men: Symptoms include: He may not be able to have or keep an erection, or he may have “dry” or reduced ejaculations. What Continue reading >>
What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy refers to a problem with the peripheral nerves. These nerves send messages from the central nervous system, the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the body. The peripheral nerves tell the body when, for example, the hands are cold. It can lead to tingling, prickling, numbness, and muscle weakness in various parts of the body. Peripheral neuropathy can affect a range of different nerves, so it can impact a variety of locations in different ways. It can affect a single nerve, or several nerves at the same time. It is also associated with a number of different underlying medical conditions. Sometimes there is no identifiable cause. It affects some 20 million people in the United States (U.S.). Here are some key points about peripheral neuropathy. More detail is in the main article. Neuropathy is a common complication of a number of different medical conditions. It can involve the autonomic nerves, the motor nerves, and the sensory nerves. Sometimes it affects a single nerve or nerve set, for example, in Bell's Palsy, which affects a facial nerve. Physical trauma, repetitive injury, infection, metabolic problems, and exposure to toxins and some drugs are all possible causes. Treatment Treatment either targets the underlying cause, or it aims to provide symptomatic pain relief and prevent further damage. In the case of diabetic neuropathy, addressing high blood sugars can prevent further nerve damage. For toxic causes, removing the exposure to a suspected toxin, or stopping a drug, can halt further nerve damage. Medications can relieve pain and reduce burning, numbness, and tingling. Drug treatment for neuropathic pain Medications that may help include: Opioid painkillers come with warnings about safety risks. Doctors can also prescribe skin patch Continue reading >>
Peripheral Neuropathy And Diabetes
Peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage caused by chronically high blood sugar and diabetes. It leads to numbness, loss of sensation, and sometimes pain in your feet, legs, or hands. It is the most common complication of diabetes. About 60% to 70% of all people with diabetes will eventually develop peripheral neuropathy, although not all suffer pain. Yet this nerve damage is not inevitable. Studies have shown that people with diabetes can reduce their risk of developing nerve damage by keeping their blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. What causes peripheral neuropathy? Chronically high blood sugar levels damage nerves not only in your extremities but also in other parts of your body. These damaged nerves cannot effectively carry messages between the brain and other parts of the body. This means you may not feel heat, cold, or pain in your feet, legs, or hands. If you get a cut or sore on your foot, you may not know it, which is why it's so important to inspect your feet daily. If a shoe doesn't fit properly, you could even develop a foot ulcer and not know it. The consequences can be life-threatening. An infection that won't heal because of poor blood flow causes risk for developing ulcers and can lead to amputation, even death. This nerve damage shows itself differently in each person. Some people feel tingling, then later feel pain. Other people lose the feeling in fingers and toes; they have numbness. These changes happen slowly over a period of years, so you might not even notice it. Because the changes are subtle and happen as people get older, people tend to ignore the signs of nerve damage, thinking it's just part of getting older. But there are treatments that can help slow the progression of this condition and limit the damage. Talk to your doctors Continue reading >>
Does Pins And Needles Sensation Means You Have Diabetes?
The sensation of “pins and needles” is technically known as a form of paresthesia. Paresthesias are abnormal sensations and include sensations of burning, tingling, prickling, skin crawling or itching, often in the hands and/or feet. All the forms of paresthesia are due to nerve damage, either because of some disease affecting the nerves (eg. Multiple sclerosis or diabetes), by traumatic injury or entrapment (eg. Carpel tunnel syndrome), by strokes or by tumors pressing on the nerves. Paresthesias can also be caused by Vitamin B12 deficiency, heavy metal poisoning, alcohol abuse and by a low-functioning thyroid (hypothyroidism). Paresthesias can also be caused by various medications such as antihistamines, blood pressure medication, antibiotics and other medications can cause paresthesias such as that sensation of pins and needles. Just about everyone has experienced temporary paresthesias—these are those times when your leg “fell asleep” as you sat cross-legged or your hands were tingling or vibrating for some time after weed whacking or using some power tool. Paresthesias are usually not painful unless they are cause by spinal or traumatic injury, but they can become chronic (long-term) and can affect your overall quality of life. For example, if the “pins and needles” sensation doesn’t let you sleep, that can affect your quality of life. If that “pins and needles” sensation make it difficult for you to type, hold a pen, use a tool, sew, garden or perform another activity that you enjoy—or that you have to do—THAT can affect your quality of life. In diabetes, paresthesias often precede and are part of a complication of diabetes, peripheral neuropathy. Peripheral neuropathy is believed to result from chronically high levels of blood sugar. Continue reading >>