The Link Between Diabetes and Nerve Damage

Did you know that almost 70% of people with diabetes also develop nerve damage? If not, you’re not alone. Many people believe diabetes is a painless condition that only affects blood sugar.

Unfortunately, diabetes comes with the potential for causing other conditions, including nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy or peripheral neuropathy. Patients with diabetic neuropathy can experience a number of symptoms, such as tingling sensations in the toes, pain in the feet, and even life-threatening complications.

At Wellness 1st Integrative Medical Center in Gilbert, Arizona, internal medicine specialist Mark Carter, MD, and our health specialists want to help you understand how diabetes can impact your nerves. If you have diabetes, Dr. Carter can evaluate your symptoms and determine if you’re at risk for developing neuropathy.

Understanding diabetes and nerve damage

More than 30 million Americans have diabetes. When your body can’t produce enough insulin to deliver blood sugar into the cells of your body, you have Type 1 diabetes. When your body doesn’t correctly use the insulin it does produce, you have Type 2 diabetes.

Nerve damage, or neuropathy, refers to diseased or malfunctioning nerves. There are different types of neuropathy, named according to which nerves are damaged. Peripheral neuropathy, for example, is one of the most common types. It gets its name because it refers to nerve damage on the periphery of the nervous system — outside the brain and spinal cord.

How diabetes and nerve damage are linked

Different conditions can cause neuropathy, but one disease is associated with it more than any other: diabetes. In fact, peripheral neuropathy is so common in patients with diabetes that it’s often simply called diabetic neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy is common in diabetics because when blood glucose levels remain elevated, this can lead to damage in the nerve tissues. Symptoms, which typically occur in the toes and feet, can include tingling, pain and numbness, and a loss of feeling.

Peripheral diabetes comes with an increased risk of complications. This is because once you’ve lost sensitivity in your feet, you won’t be able to feel cuts, sores, and blisters. And if you can’t feel them, you will have a hard time trying to clean and bandage them. This can allow bacteria to enter the wounds, which can lead to infections. For some diabetics, this can lead to amputation.

Treatment options exist for diabetic nerve damage

Although nerve damage is a serious side effect of diabetes, it’s possible to slow its progress or prevent it entirely by controlling your blood sugar and living a healthy lifestyle.

Test your blood sugar on a set schedule at home to make sure it stays in the proper range. And make sure you see us regularly. At Wellness 1st Integrative Medical Center, we have had great success treating peripheral neuropathy. Dr. Carter will examine you and determine if you can benefit from one of the programs we have available. Dr. Carter may recommend electrotherapy, light & laser therapy, supplements, diet and nutrition programs, exercise, and other useful therapies to help your nerves stay as healthy as possible.

Whether you’re dealing with diabetes, neuropathy, or both, Dr. Carter and the team at Wellness 1st Integrative Medical Center can provide expert medical care tailored for you. To learn more, book an appointment online or over the phone today.