Why Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment?
Diabetic Neuropathy is a common late complication in patients with diabetes mellitus. Most people who suffer from diabetes develop some form of nervous tissue damage in their lifetime. This is a very painful condition and causes much suffering in patients. Diabetes Neuropathy can lead to foot ulcerations, deformities, and amputations without proper foot care.
Diabetic Neuropathy Risk Factors
The following factors increase the chance of having diabetic neuropathy:
- Poor blood sugar control
- Increased duration of diabetes
- Damage to blood vessels
- Mechanical injury to nerves
- Autoimmune dysfunctions
- Genetic susceptibility
- Lifestyle factors such as smoking and alcohol abuse
Diabetic Neuropathy Causes
In order to understand the diabetic neuropathy treatment measures, it is essential to learn about the causes.
The mechanism through which diabetic neuropathy develops is still being researched. It has been proved that increased blood sugar levels cause abnormal fat levels, and this issue ultimately leads to neuropathy. The glucose that enters the cells is broken down into a product called sorbitol, which causes an abnormality in the metabolism of cell, thereby causing damage to the nerves.
Reduced nerve blood flow also leads to nerve damage. The nerve fibre repair mechanism is impaired in diabetic patients.
The Symptoms And Signs Of Diabetic Neuropathy
The most common form of diabetic neuropathy is peripheral neuropathy, and this generally affects the hands and feet.
The symptoms and signs are:
- Abnormal sensation
- Loss of vibratory sensation
- Alteration of temperature sensation
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle atrophy
- Ulceration and blisters
- Nail changes
The nerves that control the internal organs may also be affected. This causes urine retention, erectile dysfunction, diarrhoea, constipation, fall in blood pressure, and exercise intolerance. Once one or more of these symptoms are noted, diabetic neuropathy treatment measures should be considered.
Blood sugar levels must be checked regularly to monitor a patient of diabetic neuropathy. Electromyography studies are done to check nerve conduction and muscle weakness.
Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment Measures
The treatment of diabetic neuropathy includes:
- Foot Care
- Glucose Control
- Pain Control
Foot Care: Patients are first advised to keep their feet elevated. The swelling due to neuropathy is reduced through drugs, and support stocking increases the blood flow as well. Any ulcer or infection detected is treated immediately with antibiotics.
Glucose Control: Blood sugar is controlled by hypoglycaemic drugs. If adequate control with drugs cannot be achieved, insulin therapy is used.
Pain Control: Pain is treated with tricyclic antidepressants such as amitryptiline or desipramine. Topical pain relievers like capsaicin cream may be added if the pain still persists. Anticonvulsants are used if the above mentioned remedies do not alleviate pain, and in some cases, alternative therapy like electrical spinal cord stimulation and acupuncture is also used in treating pain.
Long term diabetic neuropathy treatment includes aldose reductase inhibitors and nerve growth factors. Aldose reductase inhibitors act by reducing the production of sorbitol, which causes many problems in this disease. Nerve growth factors help in regenerating the damaged nerves and bring down the complications in this malady.
How To Prevent Diabetic Neuropathy
When the condition is controlled through preventive measures, diabetic neuropathy treatment becomes unnecessary. Foot care is essential in order to control diabetic neuropathy. The patients should be advised to follow these instructions:
- Use lotions to prevent dryness and cracking
- Keep their foot clean and dry
- Never walk barefoot
- Wear properly fitting shoes
- Inspect their foot for calluses, infections and blisters
This can help in managing the problem.