What is Peripheral diabetic neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy peripheral is peripheral nerve damage. This disease is the most common complication of diabetes mellitus. It occurs in 75% of patients with diabetes mellitus. For many people with type 2 diabetes, which they are often unaware of, neuropathy symptoms can be the first warning signs.
If you have been diagnosed with peripheral diabetic neuropathy, it means that diabetes has caused nerve damage. First of all, with polyneuropathy, the peripheral nervous system is affected, including the nerves that go to the trunk, limbs, and head. Peripheral nerves are divided into sensory and motor nerves. The sensory nerves are of various sizes. Sensory nerves transmit information from internal organs and skin to the brain, while motor nerves transmit information about movements from the brain to the body. For example, suppose a person injured their leg. In that case, the sensory nerves will tell the brain about this, and the motor nerves, having received the appropriate command from the brain, will help the person pull the leg away from the unsafe object.
Diabetic neuropathy peripheral symptoms
In diabetic patients, the most common diagnosis is distal sensorimotor polyneuropathy, in which the sensory nerves to the hands and feet are first affected. The first symptoms of peripheral diabetic neuropathy occur in the feet, and it takes longer for the development of polyneuropathy in the hands. Over time, small nerve fibers are also included in the pathological process.
Symptoms of damage to small nerve fibers:
- A burning or tingling sensation in the hands and feet.
- Loss of skin sensitivity to temperature.
- Night pains.
- Numbness in the limbs.
- Feeling of chilliness in the limbs.
- Swelling of the feet.
- Dry and flaky skin of the limbs.
- Excessive moisture in the feet.
- Redness of the skin of the feet.
- The presence of calluses, non-healing wounds, and ulcers on the feet.
Symptoms of damage to large nerve fibers in diabetic neuropathy peripheral:
- Hypersensitivity of the skin of the extremities.
- Loss of balance.
- Pathological changes in the joints.
- Insensitive to finger movements.
When sensory nerves are damaged, there is a complete or partial loss of sensation in the limbs. A person does not experience pain with cuts, wounds, or burns. As a result, ulcers may develop. If these ulcers become infected, infection and gangrene can occur. In this case, the only way out is to amputate part of the affected limb. If you notice that the skin on your legs has lost sensitivity, you need to consult a doctor urgently. With such a symptom, it is essential to conduct a daily examination of the feet. It is necessary to examine the lateral parts of the feet and the heels and the gaps between the toes.
- When small nerve fibers are damaged, patients often experience pain in the extremities of a different nature. They can be aching, dull, tingling, or twitching. Pain increases at night. Diabetic neuropathy peripheral pain sometimes occurs early in diabetes treatment. When blood sugar returns to normal, the pain usually disappears, although other neuropathy symptoms may persist for a longer time. If the sugar is still high and the pain disappears, this indicates the progression of neuropathy.
- With extensive damage to the sensory nerves, patients may feel cold extremities. If small fibers are affected, then a person may no longer distinguish between cold and hot, which increases the risk of frostbite and burns. However, the most common symptom of peripheral diabetic neuropathy is numbness in the extremities.
- When large nerve fibers are damaged, a person does not feel finger movements and touch. In addition, balance problems may arise. The most severe difficulties arise when moving in the dark.
If the motor nerves are affected, the muscles in the limbs will weaken, but these symptoms do not occur immediately.
Diabetic neuropathy peripheral diagnostics
Peripheral diabetic neuropathy is diagnosed based on the patient’s complaints, but even the absence of complaints does not mean that the patient with diabetes does not have polyneuropathy. Doctors know that peripheral diabetic neuropathy is often asymptomatic, so they use additional research methods to assess the condition of the peripheral nerves. For example, electromyography and quantitative sensory testing are used to detect asymptomatic polyneuropathy. The second method is becoming more and more popular worldwide, as it allows you to accurately determine the state of the sensory nerves, taking into account the individual characteristics of the patient.
In diabetic patients, the natural question is, how often should one be screened for diabetic peripheral neuropathy? If the patient does not complain about neuropathy symptoms, the examination is carried out once a year, and if there are complaints and symptoms, once every six months. Regular examinations are carried out to detect the disease at an early stage and select the correct treatment.
Peripheral diabetic neuropathy treatment
It is essential to keep blood sugar at a healthy level to treat diabetic neuropathy peripheral successfully. However, this does not guarantee that the disease will not develop because of other risk factors: age, smoking, alcohol, obesity, and diabetes history.
With diabetic neuropathy peripheral, it is essential to regularly examine the feet and prevent possible damage to the skin of the feet. You must wear only comfortable shoes, avoid walking barefoot on the floor, and if you have skin damage, consult a doctor or use the drugs that the doctor has prescribed in case of damage, injury, or cuts. You must treat the dry skin of the limbs with special creams.
At the first symptoms of diabetic neuropathy peripheral, you should consult a doctor for a comprehensive examination. You should know that the damaged nerve fibers cannot be restored; therefore, it is essential to diagnose and start treatment on time. Of the drug treatment methods , complexes of B vitamins, thioctic acid, drugs from the group of antihypoxants are actively used. Physiotherapy treatments are also widely used.