What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy is a problem for many patients with diabetes. Neuropathy (a disorder of the nerve branches, in this case to the hand and/or feet) can cause significant loss of protective sensation. This may lead to the development of ulcers, infections, and other complications in the foot and ankle. In some patients, pain may also be present in the foot or ankle secondary to the neuropathy.
Causes of Diabetic Neuropathy
The causes of diabetic neuropathy are unclear. Many factors may result in diabetic neuropathy, including:
High Blood Sugar
Exposure to high blood sugar can damage nerve fibers, causing diabetic neuropathy. Doctors are uncertain as to why this happens, but a combination of factors play a role. High blood sugar interferes with the nerves’ ability to transmit signals, as well as weakens the walls of capillaries, which supply the nerves with oxygen.
If your condition is unrelated to diabetes, you may be prone to neuropathy because of your genetics.
Inflammation in the Nerves
Inflammation in the nerves happens because of an autoimmune response. An autoimmune response happens when your immune system decides to attack a certain part of your body, thinking that it is a disease.
Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic neuropathy is common in both men and women between 19-60, but more common in people over the age of 60. Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy vary among patients. Some of the symptoms include:
- Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain or temperature changes
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of reflexes in the ankle or foot
- Loss of balance
- A tingling or burning sensation
- Foot problems such as ulcers, infection, and bone and joint pain
Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment in Illinois
To treat diabetic neuropathy, oral medication may be prescribed, as well as other conservative treatments may be recommended by your doctor. Surgery may be performed to release the linings around the nerves most commonly involved in diabetic neuropathy. This is a procedure that does have risks and thoughtful consideration should be given before proceeding, understanding the realistic expectations regarding the outcome, function, and gain that may be expected.
If you are suffering from tingling sensations, loss of reflexes in the foot or ankle, or foot problems such as ulcers, it may be time to speak with a specialist. As a board certified orthopaedic surgeon specializing in disorders of the foot and ankle, Dr. Anand Vora would be happy to help you live a pain free life. For more information about his Illinois office locations, or to make an appointment, please contact us today!