Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that involves damage to the peripheral nervous system. To emphasize, our peripheral nerves carry signals to and from our central nervous system. Hence, malfunctioning of these nerves causes disruption and affects how the body reacts to reflexes. For instance, it can affect your body’s reaction to stimuli like pain and temperature. An estimated 30 million Americans suffer from peripheral neuropathy of some kind. Most importantly about 60-70% of diabetic patients are known to suffer from peripheral neuropathy. Hence, if not treated in time or managed well, it can lead to lower limb amputations. Moreover, nearly 54,000 diabetics undergo amputations, 75% of which are preventable. To summarize, here is a beginners guide to DPN for you:

What is diabetic peripheral neuropathy?

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is a progressive disease that involves pain, loss of sensation and weakness. However, a proper clinical examination may identify early signs without the presence of any symptoms.

What are the symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy?

Symptoms can vary from patient to patient. Some common symptoms of DPN include:

  • Numbness in your hands or feet
  • Pain
  • Tingling sensation
  • Loss of touch
  • Loss of sensation (pain or pressure)
  • Muscle weakness
  • Burning sensation
  • Dizziness when you stand up
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or heartburn

How is diabetic peripheral neuropathy diagnosed?

If diagnosed early, amputations due to DPN may be prevented. Additionally, it can also help you better manage and help relieve symptoms.For instance, Your doctor might conduct a physical examination and some nerve tests. , these may include:

  • Filament test
  • Sensory testing
  • Nerve conduction testing
  • Muscle response testing
  • Autonomic testing

Most importantly, these nerve tests check out reflexes and sensitivity to pain and pressure.

How is diabetic peripheral neuropathy treated?

Currently, there is no cure for DPN. Hence, the present approaches target pain reduction and management:

  • Firstly, to slow the progression of the disease, keep your blood glucose in check. Hence, maintaining your blood sugar within the healthy limit may alleviate symptoms and reduce pain.
  • Secondly, pain medications assist in managing chronic pain. However, consult your doctor before using them.
  • Thirdly, alternatives such as acupuncture, physical therapy and meditation aid in managing your symptoms physically and mentally.
  • Proper intake of food and vitamins can also help you cope with symptoms and help you stay healthy.

To summarize, today’s approaches may help mitigate pain or attempt to control the underlying diabetes, in contrast there is no disease-modifying or curative treatment approved for diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

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References:
“Diabetic neuropathy – Diagnosis and treatment”. Mayo Clinic
“Diabetic Neuropathy: Treatment, Symptoms, Causes”. Healthline
“Diabetic Neuropathy: Types, Symptoms, Prevention, Treatment”. WebMD
“Types of Peripheral Neuropathy & Risk Factors”. The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy
“Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy | Symptoms & Treatment”. The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy