Over 29 million Americans have been reported to have diabetes. Almost 10 percent of America’s population has contracted diabetes and that number is expected to grow over time. Diabetes is a disease that inhibits the body’s ability to respond to or produce insulin. Resulting in higher blood sugar levels, diabetes can lead to strokes, kidney damage, and heart disease. Severe sharp pain is also associated with diabetes and in correlation with high blood sugar levels can cause permanent nerve damage. While doctors still haven’t found the exact reason why this happens, this phenomenon has been dubbed diabetic neuropathy which refers to nerve damage from diabetes.
There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy and the signs and symptoms can develop gradually. Most might not notice the damage until it becomes severe.
Peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy. The legs and feet are usually affected first, followed by the arms and hands. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy are generally worse at night and can include:
- Sharp pains or cramps
- Drastically increased sensitivity to touch – the weight of a pillow could cause unbearable pain to the affected areas
- Loss of coordination and balance
- Numbness or inability to feel pain or temperature changes
- Foot problems such as infections, deformities, and pain in bones and joints
- Burning or tingling sensation
As it is the most common type of diabetic neuropathy, being wary of these symptoms when they first occur can prove to be extremely beneficial.
The autonomic nervous system controls your bladder, heart, stomach, lungs, and eyes. Diabetes can affect nerves in any or all of these areas which can cause:
- Urinary tract infections or the loss of bladder control
- Constipation or uncontrolled diarrhea
- Vomiting or loss of appetite
- Difficulty swallowing
- Problems with body temperature regulation
- Eye problems such as trouble adjusting from light to dark
These symptoms can easily be disguised to feel like a virus or the flu. If they persist for a long time, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Radiculoplexus neuropathy affects nerves in the hips, thighs, or legs. This condition is more common in those with type 2 diabetes. Symptoms are generally on one side of the body but may spread to the other side in some instances. The symptoms improve over time but they can worsen before they get better. Signs of radiculoplexus neuropathy include:
- Weak thigh muscles
- Weight loss
- Abdominal swelling
- Severe and sudden pain in your hip, thigh, or buttock
- Difficulty rising from a seated position
Symptoms can be confused with common “old age” problems making older individuals more susceptible to long-term health consequences.
Involving damage to a specific nerve, mononeuropathy may occur in the face, leg, or torso. It’s common in older adults and can be contracted suddenly. While mononeuropathy can cause severe pain, it usually won’t cause any long-term issues. Symptoms often disappear on their own over the course of a few weeks or months. Signs include:
- Shin, foot, lower back, thigh, and chest pain
- Paralysis on one side of your face
- Double vision or aching behind one eye
If these symptoms seem to worsen at any point, see your doctor immediately.
Diabetic pain can lead to neuropathy. Pain can have long-term effects on your body if left untreated. Before you succumb to permanent nerve damage, contact Garden State Pain Control. Our specialists can help you manage your pain. If you feel like you have any of the symptoms listed above, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.