Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital

Diabetic Neuropathy (Nerve Problems)

Diabetic Neuropathy (Nerve Problems)

The importance of foot care

Taking care of your feet is especially important if you are experiencing neuropathy. The nerves of the feet are the longest in the body and often are affected by neuropathy. When a diabetes patient loses sensation in the feet, sores or injuries may go unnoticed until ulcers develop.

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, proper foot care in diabetes includes checking the feet daily; washing the feet daily; covering the feet with petroleum jelly before putting on socks and shoes; wearing thick, soft socks; wearing shoes that fit properly; checking the shoes for sharp edges or object before putting them on; never walking barefoot; cutting nails short and straight across; filing away dead skin, but not calluses; testing bath water temperature before getting in; wearing socks at night if the feet have a tendency to get cold; not sitting cross-legged; and having your doctor check the feet regularly at visits.

What is diabetic neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy, a nerve disorder, is a complication of diabetes that can lead to problems throughout the body.

People with diabetes can develop nerve problems at any time, but significant nerve problems, or clinical neuropathy, can develop within the first 10 years after receiving a diabetes diagnosis. The risk of developing neuropathy increases the longer a person has diabetes. About half of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy.

What causes diabetic neuropathy?

Although the exact causes of diabetic neuropathy are unknown, several factors may contribute to the disorder, including the following:

What are the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy?

The following are the most common symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms include:

The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.

What are the different types of diabetic neuropathy?

Diffuse neuropathy is neuropathy that affects many parts of the body, and includes the following:

How is neuropathy diagnosed?

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, the doctor may:

What is the treatment for neuropathy?

Specific treatment for neuropathy will be determined by your doctor based on:

The goal of treatment is to relieve pain and discomfort, as well as to prevent additional tissue damage. Treatment may include:

Treatment may also be prescribed for complications of neuropathy, such as gastrointestinal problems, dizziness and weakness, and urinary or sexual problems.

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