How Diabetes Causes Peripheral Neuropathy

Diabetes is one of the most common conditions affecting Americans today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 30 million Americans have diabetes, and an additional 80 million have prediabetes. 

Diabetes is very serious because it can have so many other related health effects. One of the most common risks of diabetes is developing peripheral neuropathy. At Southern Pain Specialists in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Kenneth Varley is an expert at managing the pain that often goes along with this condition. 

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which your nerves are damaged as a result of high blood sugar levels. Other contributing factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, and obesity. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can include the following:

It’s estimated that up to 50 percent of people with type 2 diabetes will eventually develop peripheral neuropathy. 

How to prevent peripheral neuropathy

The best way to prevent peripheral neuropathy is twofold: keep your blood glucose levels under control and regularly see Dr. Varley.

Keeping tight control over your blood glucose levels is essential to prevent further damage to your nerves. This will likely also help to reduce related conditions, like high cholesterol and obesity. Ask the experts at Southern Pain Specialists for help if you’re having trouble getting your blood glucose levels under control.

Regularly seeing Dr. Varley is also important because early detection is key to preventing future problems. Getting regular checkups helps you to monitor your condition and remain alert to any changes in an early stage.

How to treat peripheral neuropathy

If left untreated, peripheral neuropathy will gradually get worse. In worst-case scenarios, it can even lead to paralysis or amputation, particularly if you have an infection that doesn’t heal. Fortunately, these scenarios don’t have to happen.

When detected early enough, and before too much damage has occurred, peripheral neuropathy can be reversed, at least somewhat. If nerve damage has occurred, the goal of treatment is to prevent further damage from happening. 

Ensure that you’re maintaining good control of your diabetes by regularly checking your blood sugar levels at home. In addition, get your A1C levels tested at least twice a year to obtain a more complete picture of how well your diabetes is managed.

Because most of the damage from peripheral neuropathy affects your feet, be sure to check your feet every day. Look for cuts or sores that don’t heal, which are a sign of a problem that requires immediate medical attention. In addition, consider these other important aspects of foot care:

Other treatments for peripheral neuropathy may include physical therapy or even surgery. In some cases, you may need mobility aids, such as a cane or a walker.

You are an essential partner in staying well and avoiding complications from peripheral neuropathy. With Dr. Varley’s knowledge about peripheral neuropathy, together you can manage your health. Call our office at 205-512-6420 or book an appointment online.

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