Neuropathy, or nerve damage, affects more than 20 million women and men in the United States. If you have diabetes, you’re at increased risk for neuropathy because high levels of glucose in your blood injure your blood vessels and your nerves. In fact, neuropathy is one of the most common complications of diabetes.
At Advanced Pain Management in Castro Valley, San Ramon, and Fremont, California, our pain management expert, Ravi Panjabi, MD, specializes in diabetic neuropathy. Catching diabetic neuropathy in its early stages helps prevent severe complications, including gangrene and subsequent amputation.
Diabetic neuropathy is tricky to self-diagnose, because your damaged nerves may not alert you that something is wrong. Here’s how to tell if you have neuropathy.
You have ulcers or sores on your feet
You may have ignored any lesions or sores you saw on your feet because they’re not painful. But diabetic neuropathy interferes with your ability to feel pain. If you have severe neuropathy, you might even step on a nail and not feel it.
Inspect your feet daily if you have neuropathy. Any lesions, cuts, wounds, or blisters that don’t heal within a few days should receive medical care. Ulcers are a prime sign of diabetic neuropathy.
Your limbs tingle or feel numb
As your nerves lose their ability to transmit pain signals to your brain, you may notice strange sensations in your limbs, hands, and feet. Diabetic neuropathy usually affects your toes, feet ,and legs first, but may then progress to affect your fingers, hands, and arms. Symptoms include:
- Jabbing or sharp pain
- Sensitivity to touch
- Burning sensations
If you feel strange sensations in your feet or hands, or don’t feel any sensations at all, contact your doctor right away for a diabetic neuropathy evaluation.
You feel weak or awkward
Diabetes can damage your proximal nerves, which control the muscles in your legs, buttocks, and hips. Typical symptoms include muscle weakness and severe pain, especially when you’re trying to do everyday activities, such as standing up from a sitting position.
You may also find that you’ve become clumsy. Diabetic neuropathy that affects your proximal nerves may make it difficult to coordinate normal movements, including walking. It also increases your risk for falls, which can be dangerous.
You might also start to drop things. The muscles on one side of your face could also become paralyzed, a condition known as Bell’s palsy.
You have trouble seeing
Diabetes can damage the blood vessels and nerves in your eyes, too. Contact us right away if you have symptoms such as:
- Trouble focusing
- Double vision
- Ache behind your eye
Another complication of diabetes that affects the eyes is diabetic retinopathy. If you notice any changes to your vision, contact your ophthalmologist right away.
Your body isn’t working well
Neuropathy that affects your autonomic nervous system can disturb the normal function of your organs. If you have diabetes, be sure to contact us if you notice symptoms such as:
- Bowel problems
- Bladder problems
- Eyes have trouble adjusting to light
- Lack of or decreased sexual response
- Nausea or vomiting
- Lack of appetite
You might also not realize when your blood sugar levels are low until you test your blood. If you don’t feel the changes in your body as your blood sugar levels rise and fall, you may have diabetic neuropathy.
Stay alert to your body’s signals and changes so you can catch and treat diabetic neuropathy in its earliest stages. If you have any of the changes or symptoms associated with diabetic neuropathy, contact us for an evaluation and customized treatment plan today. Call our office nearest you or use our online booking tool.