Diabetic Neuropathy

One of the major complications of Diabetes Mellitus is Diabetic Neuropathy. This involves a breakdown of nerve fibers which eventually leads to a loss of nerve function. We have two types of nerves in our bodies, sensory nerves and motor nerves. If the neuropathy involves the sensory nerves it will lead to either a loss of feeling or you may experience constant pain, burning and/or tingling. If the nerves involved are motor nerves it will affect the strength of the muscle leading to weakness and loss of use.

Diabetic neuropathies can be classified as focal or diffuse and each has their own symptoms, rate of progress, and method of treatment. Focal neuropathies involve a single nerve or a small group of nerves that become damaged due to loss of blood supply or it may become trapped within swollen tissues. With blood loss neuropathies the signs are usually sudden, are located to one area of the body and go away over time (if the blood flow is restored).

Nerve entrapment neuropathies are usually slow in onset and may require surgery to release the nerve, a good example of this is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Diffuse neuropathies are the more common type of diabetic neuropathy. They affect both motor and sensory nerves, involve a widespread loss of nerve function and affect both sides of the body at the same time. They are usually gradual in onset and unfortunately they are not reversible or curable. These neuropathies can affect the autonomic nervous system (the one you can’t control) and can cause problems with your heart, intestines and the ability to control your urine.

Keeping your blood glucose levels within the range recommended by your doctor or endocrinologist is the best way to delay the beginning and decrease the severity of diabetic neuropathies.