Sometimes, patients do not understand why their legs or feet constantly hurt. They think it is due to a lot of physical activity or uncomfortable shoes. However, it could be diabetes. So, for example, against the background of diabetes, the patient may experience pain in the foot, cramps, or numbness. It could be diabetic neuropathy.
Another cause of leg pain may be peripheral artery disease. In this case, the patient may also feel pain and discomfort in the leg.
In addition to pain in the legs, these conditions can cause other unpleasant symptoms. Their common cause may be diabetes. High sugar levels can cause weakness in the legs and arms. Thus, these diseases are similar and have similar symptoms. But there are also differences between them that you need to be aware of.
In this article, we will talk about peripheral artery disease and diabetic neuropathy. Also, we will look at the common and different features between these two states.
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can most often occur with diabetes. An attack of high blood sugar can damage the nerves that run throughout the patient’s body. This condition usually damages the nerves in the legs and feet. So, the most popular diabetic neuropathy symptoms are pain and numbness in the legs and feet.
Diabetic neuropathy has four types such as:
- Peripheral neuropathy;
- Autonomic neuropathy;
- Proximal neuropathy (diabetic polyradiculopathy);
- Mononeuropathy (focal neuropathy).
Patients who have diabetes may have one or more types of neuropathy. The symptoms of this problem depend on the type of neuropathy and the affected nerves. Usually, symptoms develop slowly. Some patients do not notice the neuropathy symptoms until severe nerve damage occurs.
Diabetic neuropathy is a severe complication of diabetes. So, it affects about half of the patients who have diabetes. Patients can prevent diabetic neuropathy or slow its development. To do it, you need to constantly control the level of sugar and lead a healthy lifestyle.
For some people, diabetic neuropathy may not be a significant problem. But other patients may experience severe consequences from this condition. So, it can be severe pain or even disability.
Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms
Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy depend on the affected nerves. So, symptoms can be:
- Pain or numbness in the legs and arms;
- Digestive problems;
- Violation of the urinary system;
- Problems with the cardiovascular system;
- Numbness or decreased ability to feel pain;
- Temperature changes;
- The feeling of tingling or burning;
- Sharp pains or cramps;
- Muscle weakness;
- Extreme sensitivity to touch;
- Serious foot problems such as ulcers, infections, bone, and joint damage;
- Drop in blood pressure when standing up from a sitting or lying position;
- Bladder or bowel problems;
- Slow emptying of the stomach;
- Difficulty swallowing;
- Changes in the adjustment of the eyes from light to dark or from far to near;
- Increased or decreased sweating;
- Problems with sexual response.
What is Peripheral Artery Disease?
Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) of the legs or lower extremities is a narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs. It usually occurs due to the accumulation of fatty plaques in the arteries. Peripheral artery disease can be in any blood vessel. However, it usually appears in the legs.
Risk factors for developing PAD are:
- High cholesterol;
- Elderly age.
Both genders are equally likely to have PAD. In the US, about 6.5 million people aged 40 have PAD. PAD patients have a high risk of coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart attack, or stroke.
Early Signs of Peripheral Artery Disease
One of the main symptoms of PAD is a pain in the legs during physical activity. So, most often, patients can notice it at the time of walking. This pain disappears during rest. But not every PAD patient has leg pain. Other symptoms may be:
- Pain, aches, or cramps when hot in the buttocks, hips, thighs, or calves;
- Muscular atrophy of the leg;
- Loss of hair on the leg;
- The skin on the sore leg becomes smooth and shiny;
- The leg becomes cool;
- Decreased pulse in the legs;
- Wounds or sores on the legs or feet that do not heal;
- Cold or numb toes.
Learn more about Medications for Diabetic Neuropathy in our LoneStar blog.
Difference Between Diabetic Neuropathy and PAD
The main difference between peripheral neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease is that PAD affects the arteries, while diabetic neuropathy affects the nervous system. However, PAD and neuropathy can have common causes like diabetes and similar symptoms. There is a strong connection between these diseases, and diabetes is often a common link. Therefore, people with diabetes or peripheral neuropathy should also examine the condition of the arteries and veins.
Such disorders are difficult to determine without the help of a doctor. It is because leg pain can have some other causes. Before consulting a doctor, it is worth keeping a diary. Write down your symptoms and their severity daily. It will help your doctor give you an accurate diagnosis.
Thus, we have considered such two conditions as peripheral artery disease and diabetic neuropathy. Also, we discussed what they have in common and their differences. If you or your relatives have diabetes, leg pain, cramps, or body weakness, you should consult a doctor. Such symptoms may indicate a future deterioration in the condition.
Our clinic daily helps a large number of patients in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases of any complexity. We use the most modern equipment, and our team employs highly qualified specialists. We will help you diagnose your possible problems and cure them. Make an appointment with us right now by phone: 214-619-1910.
- Is diabetic neuropathy the same as PAD?
No, these are two different diseases. But they can share a common cause of diabetes and also have the same symptoms.
- Can peripheral artery disease cause neuropathy?
Some studies suggest that PAD may be associated with multifocal motor neuropathy. This type of neuropathy most likely has an ischemic etiology.
- What is the life expectancy of someone with peripheral artery disease?
It is impossible to say how PAD affects a patient’s life expectancy unequivocally. However, within five years, one in five patients with PAD suffers from a heart attack, stroke, or death. But with proper treatment, you can try to avoid serious consequences for life.
- What triggers diabetic neuropathy?
It is difficult to name the exact cause of diabetic neuropathy. But researchers speculate that it may be due to high blood sugar levels. It’s because hypertension damages nerves and interferes with signaling. It is also due to the fact that high sugar levels damage the walls of the capillaries that supply the nerves with oxygen and essential substances. Therefore, uncontrolled blood sugar levels can be considered the main cause of diabetic neuropathy.