Healthy Living

Managing Diabetic Neuropathy: What Patients Need to Know

Managing Diabetic Neuropathy: What Patients Need to Know

Diabetic neuropathy refers to nerve damage from type 2 diabetes, which is a common complication of the disease and can put you at a significant risk for other complications with diabetes.

Diabetic neuropathy can increase with age, poor blood sugar control, and how long you have lived with diabetes. Ronald Kanner, MD, professor, and chair of neurology at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine in New York City, states that 5 to 10 percent of those with diabetes probably have neuropathy at the time they are diagnosed, and about 50 percent will develop neuropathy within 10 to 20 years.

Those who have had diabetes for at least 25 years, are obese and have high cholesterol are at the highest levels of risk for neuropathy. The first symptoms of neuropathy occur in the long nerves that go out to your hands and feet or peripheral neuropathy.

Neuropathy is diagnosed through a series of tests that will look into your nerve sensitivity

To determine if you have neuropathy, your doctor will check your muscle strength and tone sensitivity to touch and vibration, and tendon reflexes. Some tools used by your doctor are:

  • A filament test where your doctor bushes a soft nylon fiber brush over areas of your skin to test sensitivity.
  • Quantitative sensory analyses, which are noninvasive tests used to measure how nerves respond to changes in temperature and vibration.
  • Nerve conduction studies measure how quickly the nerves in your legs and arms conduct electrical signals. These studies are also used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Electromyography (EMG) measures the electrical discharges in your muscles.
  • Autonomic neuropathy tests that are done to determine how blood pressure changes while you are in different positions and if you usually sweat or not.

Diabetic neuropathy is a common complication that many patients need to know more about. Read on to learn more.