Understanding Diabetic Neuropathy: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

A woman with diabetic neuropathy tests her blood sugar levels.
Keeping blood sugar in check is an essential step in managing diabetic neuropathy.

Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes that too often doesn’t get the attention it needs. The condition can seriously affect a person’s day-to-day life, so it’s vital to understand what diabetic neuropathy is, what symptoms too look out for, and what treatments are available. The team at Nightingale Homecare has put together the following information to help individuals and their families in gaining a better understanding of diabetic neuropathy and how to treat it.

What’s Diabetic Neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve disorder that can develop in individuals with diabetes. It occurs as a result of prolonged exposure to high blood sugar levels, which can damage nerves throughout the body. The condition is progressive, and the longer someone has diabetes, the greater their risk of developing neuropathy.

Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy can affect each person differently depending on which nerves are affected. There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy, each with its own set of symptoms:

  • Peripheral Neuropathy: Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type and primarily affects the limbs. Symptoms may include:
    • Tingling or burning sensations
    • Numbness
    • Weakness in the extremities
    • Serious problems with the feet, such as sores, ulcers, infections, and joint damage
  • Autonomic Neuropathy: This type of neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system, which controls involuntary functions such as heart rate, digestion, and bladder control. Symptoms can include:
    • Dizziness and fainting
    • Digestive problems
    • Bladder and bowel issues
    • Difficulty regulating body temperature
  • Proximal Neuropathy: Proximal neuropathy affects the hips, thighs, and buttocks, causing symptoms such as:
    • Severe pain in the hips, thighs, and buttocks
    • Weakness in the leg muscles
    • Inability to stand up from a seated position
  • Focal Neuropathy: Focal neuropathy occurs suddenly and affects specific nerves. It often results in:
    • Sudden and severe pain in a specific area, such as the head, torso, or leg
    • Weakness or paralysis in a specific area such as the face or hands
    • Foot drop
    • Double vision or trouble focusing

What Are the Treatment Options for Diabetic Neuropathy?

There is no cure for diabetic neuropathy. Therefore, the goal of treatment is to relieve pain, prevent infection and further nerve damage, and to improve quality of life.

  • Keep Blood Sugar Levels in Check: Managing blood sugar levels help prevent further nerve and muscle damage. A combination of medication, exercise, and a healthy diet can help maintain proper blood sugar.
  • Get Physical: Physical therapy can boost strength, balance, and coordination, which can help prevent falls and injuries.
  • Pamper the Feet: Foot care is vital to prevent ulcers, injuries, and infections. Check the feet daily, keep them clean, dry, and moisturized. Additionally, wear clean, dry socks and cushioned shoes that fit well to help protect the feet.

Get Professional Help at Home

Working with a professional home care team, like Nightingale Homecare can improve diabetic neuropathy care in a number of ways.

  • Personal Care: Our trained caregivers can help with everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, and assistance with proper hygiene and foot care.
  • Medication Management: Taking medications correctly is key to helping keep blood sugar in check and easing symptoms. Our care team can provide daily medication reminders to make certain blood sugar levels stay in check.
  • Wound Care: Treating foot ulcers quickly can help prevent infection and more serious issues. Our wound care team, comprised of experienced nurses, can treat wounds and address the cause to help keep feet as healthy as possible.

Managing diabetic neuropathy can be challenging, but it is possible to ease symptoms and enjoy a fulfilling life, and the Nightingale Homecare team is always happy to help. To learn more about our range of home care services and how they can help you or your loved one keep diabetes in check, call us today at (602) 782-3530 or reach out to us online. We are pleased to offer diabetes home care services in Phoenix, Peoria, Glendale, Paradise Valley, Sun City, and throughout the surrounding areas.