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Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy may take years to develop, or it may be present at the time of diagnosis. If you’ve been diagnosed with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes, the American Diabetic Association recommends yearly testing for symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy to avoid the additional complications which can develop.
It's thought that neuropathies are a result of chronic nerve damage caused by persistent high blood sugars and decreased blood flow to the nerves, a result of vascular damage from diabetes. Nerves send messages to and from your brain about pain, temperature and touch, and they tell your muscles when and how to move. When the nerves aren’t fed properly, they cease to do their job.
Nerve damage in the feet can result in a loss of sensation, increasing your risk of foot injuries from too-tight shoes, scalding bath water, sharp objects, and other previously harmless situations. Because of the neuropathy, these injuries may go unrecognized and lead to more serious problems such as chronic, diabetic foot ulcers and system wide infections. See our page on diabetic foot and ankle care for tips on how to avoid these injuries.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy may also lead to changes in muscle strength, increasing the likelihood that the arches in the feet will collapse, resulting in flat feet, or that the patient will fall. It is also the leading cause of ulcerations and infections in the feet, and in advanced cases, amputation.
Symptoms of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
**Symptoms may appear suddenly or may develop slowly over a period of years. At first they may come and go, but will eventually become constant. In some patients symptoms are mild. For others, diabetic neuropathy can be painful, disabling and sometimes even fatal.
Treatment for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Your podiatrist at PA Foot and Ankle Associates may recommend one or a number of these treatments to manage your diabetic nerve pain: