Symptoms of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

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  • What Is Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

    What Is Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

    Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a condition caused by nerve damage. Patients sometimes report painful symptoms and other times minor or no symptoms at all.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, between 60 and 70 percent of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy. If you don’t know that you’re diabetic, you may be unaware of what’s causing some of the strange sensations you’re experiencing.

    Click through the slideshow to discover what diabetic peripheral neuropathy feels like.

  • What Causes Nerve Damage?

    What Causes Nerve Damage?

    Nerve damage is the result of high levels of glucose and/or low levels of insulin in the blood. It isn’t entirely clear why high glucose levels damage nerves, but researchers suspect that elevated glucose hurts the interplay between nerve fibers and the blood vessels that provide nutrients to nerves.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about 60 to 70 percent of people with diabetes have moderate or severe nerve damage. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy usually first appears in the feet and legs, and may occur in the hands and arms later.

  • Feeling Numbness

    Feeling Numbness

    A common symptom of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is numbness. Sometimes you may be unable to feel your feet while walking. Other times, your hands and/or feet will tingle or burn. It may feel like you’re wearing a sock or glove when you’re not.

  • Shooting Pain

    Shooting Pain

    Sometimes pain will feel sudden and sharp, like an electrical current. Other times, you may feel cramping, for example, when you’re grasping something like a piece of silverware.

    At times, you may drop items you’re holding as a result of your symptoms.

  • Loss of Balance

    Loss of Balance

    Often, walking with a wobbly motion, or even losing your balance can be the result of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Wearing orthopedic shoes often helps with this.

    Loss of coordination is a common sign of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Often, muscle weakness affects the ankle, which can affect your gait.

  • My Foot Looks Funny

    My Foot Looks Funny

    Your foot may begin to look deformed. This is the result of unusual shifts in weight caused by walking abnormally and the loss of nerve function. One type of deformity is called hammertoe. It occurs when one of the three toes between the big toe and the little toe becomes misshapen at the joints.

  • Why Am I Sore?

    Why Am I Sore?

    If you begin to see sores or blisters on your feet that you can't explain, it could be that you hurt yourself and didn’t feel it. Sometimes the brain doesn't send a pain signal because of the nerve damage. This can be very dangerous. For example, you could scald yourself with hot water because you’re unable to feel a pain response to heat.

  • Hot and Cold

    Hot and Cold

    Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can also result in exaggerated sensations. Holding a cup of warm coffee may feel painfully hot. Or, it could actually hurt if a person with cold hands touches you. Also, your hands or feet may feel hot or cold for no reason.

  • When Pain Affects Sleep

    When Pain Affects Sleep

    Diabetic peripheral neuropathy often worsens at night. You may hurt so much that a bed sheet feels extremely heavy and painful. This can make it difficult to fall asleep or sleep through the night.

  • Take Care of Yourself

    Take Care of Yourself

    Avoid alcohol and tobacco if you have diabetic peripheral neuropathy, as these substances may worsen symptoms. Good nutrition is important, as vitamin deficiencies can exacerbate the condition. Diabetic neuropathy may be managed with medication.

    Unchecked wounds can lead to infections. In some cases, infections can spread to the bone, which could lead to amputation of toes and feet. Make sure you see your doctor regularly and tend to any sores immediately.

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