Diabetic neuropathy is a nerve disorder linked with diabetes mellitus. It is caused due to the damage to the nerves lead by prolonged elevated blood glucose levels. It is the most common complication of diabetes mellitus. Old men with longer duration of diabetes are more likely to develop this disorder. Its symptoms include numbness, loss of sensation, burning sensations, pain in the affected areas, and many more. It is detected by your doctor by certain tests such as sensitivity tests, fork test, and others.
There is no treatment available that can reverse the nerve damage.
Is Diabetic Neuropathy A Progressive Disease?
Diabetic neuropathy is a complication of diabetes mellitus. It is a nerve disorder characterized by nerve damage caused by high levels of sugar in the blood for years. It is a progressive disease and worsens with time over the years. About 60 to 70 percent of diabetic patients develop neuropathy. However, diabetic neuropathy occurs anytime in diabetic patients. Its risk increases with an increase in age and duration of diabetes. (1)
Its symptoms include weakness in the legs, pain in one side, (in the hips, feet or lower legs), digestive problems, urinary problems, vaginal dryness, dizziness, fainting, constipation, profuse perspiration at night and difficulty in swallowing.
Diabetic neuropathy is diagnosed by a sensitivity test performed by your doctor with the help of nylon fiber. Ankle reflexes and vibration threshold along with measurement of blood pressure and heart rate are other tests done along with sensitivity test.
There is no cure for diabetic neuropathy. It is managed by controlling sugar, medicines such as tricyclic antidepressants, anticonvulsants, and opioids.
Alternative Treatments For Diabetic Neuropathy
There are many alternative treatments of diabetic neuropathy which many doctors recommend along with the medication that can relieve its symptoms.
Acupuncture- Acupuncture is an old technique that reduces pain through needles. It does not have any side effects on the body. Although, it does not provide immediate relief. You may require more than one session of acupuncture to fetch relief from pain. (2)
Alpha-Lipoic Acid- it is a powerful antioxidant found in some of the food items. It helps in alleviating the nerve pain in a few patients of diabetic neuropathy. (2)
Capsaicin- Capsaicin is a cream prepared from chili peppers. It is applied to the affected areas to relieve pain sensations. It has some side effects such as burning sensation and irritation on the skin. (2)
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)- this therapy is often used by doctors to stop the flow of pain signals to the brain. In this therapy, tiny electrical impulses are sending to specific nerves and nerve pathways through small electrodes positioned on the skin. It is a safe and painless technique. (2) It can improve the process of healing in foot ulcers. (3) However, TENS is not useful for every type of pain. (2)
Physical Therapy- physical therapy is recommended in the combination of medicines. It helps in relief of pain, burning and tingling sensation in affected nerves. It also assists in improving muscle weakness, muscle cramps, and sexual dysfunction. (3) According to the American Diabetes Association, 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercises in a week for the diabetic adults provide a lot of health benefits. It will improve the flow of blood to the heart improving its health. If numbness is felt in legs, few exercises are considered safer. (2)
Therapeutic Ultrasound- it is used in some patients to regain sensitivity in their feet. In this method, high-frequency sound waves are used. (3)
Diabetic neuropathy is a progressive disease that gets worse over the years if not treated well. Most of the patients with diabetes mellitus develop diabetic neuropathy. It can be treated with alternative treatment methods such as acupuncture, capsaicin, physical therapy, and others to relieve the pain.
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