Of the many different causes of neuropathy, diabetes is the most common. It is estimated that 60% or more of people with diabetes will develop neuropathy at one point or another.
Neuropathy is a condition when nerves are damaged — this can be caused by high levels of blood sugar, which is a symptom of diabetes. When these nerves are damaged, the communication between them is hindered or blocked. This can lead to uncomfortable numbness and stinging in the arms, legs, hands and feet.
When blood sugar levels go unchecked, they affect the amount of oxygen that is being supplied to nerve cells. A lack of oxygen causes nerve cells to shrink in an effort to survive. As this shrinking continues, it forms gaps between nerve cells, making it difficult to allow the right communication to happen. This is what leads to the sensations people feel in their extremities.
In certain cases, when this condition is allowed to continue without treatment or therapy, it can lead to serious injuries. A person may no longer feel heat, cold or pain in their legs or feet. They might receive a small cut on one of their feet and not even realize it because they are unable to feel the pain. If the cut goes untreated, it can become infected, which may have serious complications.
Doctors will often suggest that those with neuropathy make it a habit of inspecting their feet on a regular basis for injuries. They should also try to wear socks and shoes as much as possible to avoid injury.
Even though the connection between diabetes and neuropathy is strong, it is not unmanageable. In fact, research has proven that there are things people with diabetes can do to avoid neuropathy for as long as possible.
If you have diabetes, one of the best methods for slowing neuropathy is to make sure you are checking your blood sugar levels on a regular basis. Keeping these levels as close to normal as possible ensures the right amount of oxygen is reaching nerve cells, allowing them to stay active and communicate with each other.
There are other therapies available, such as the ones offered at Arrowhead Health Centers. Our team, including neuropathy specialists, family physicians, physical therapists and chiropractors, will work together to find the best comprehensive and coordinated treatment available.
If you have diabetes, but haven’t noticed any symptoms of neuropathy, make sure you are checking your blood sugar levels often. If you are already experiencing the symptoms of neuropathy now, give us a call at 623-334-4000, option 9 to set up a free consultation. Let Arrowhead Health Centers diagnose and treat the real root of your discomfort.