Diabetes is all too common in the world today. An estimated 30.3 million adults have the chronic condition in America, and more are diagnosed every year.
Unsafe blood sugar levels and excessive thirst are well-known symptoms of this lifestyle disease, but you might not know that diabetic nerve pain is just as prevalent- and dangerous.
This article will go through the details of diabetic nerve pain so that you know what to think the next time you experience nerve pain in your foot. Keep reading, and you’ll soon understand what diabetic nerve pain is and what you can do to keep it from compromising your quality of life.
What is Diabetic Nerve Pain?
Diabetic nerve pain, or diabetic neuropathy, is a form of nerve damage that occurs in people who have diabetes. While too high levels of blood sugar can injure nerves everywhere in your body, diabetic neuropathy most often affects the nerves in your legs and feet specifically.
However, the damage doesn’t stay with just numbness in your legs. Diabetic nerve pain symptoms can include digestive system problems, urinary tract concerns, and problems with your blood vessels and heart rate. In some cases, these symptoms are mild, but some people find diabetic neuropathy to be debilitating, sometimes even fatal.
Like diabetes as a whole, diabetic nerve pain often takes years to develop fully. The early stages rarely include any symptoms, but eventually, you will begin to notice a slight numbness or tingling in your feet.
Over time, this pain will become more extreme and it often worsens at night. Unfortunately, the slow spread of symptoms is a sign that your nerves were damaged long before you began to feel the effects.
Nerve damage isn’t something that can be reversed, but controlling your diabetes and making healthier life choices can prevent it from getting worse. For this reason, it’s important to take your diabetic nerve pain seriously as soon as you begin to notice these symptoms.
Common Diabetic Nerve Pain Symptom
By medical consensus, there are two main types of diabetic nerve pain. It’s possible to have just one kind or symptoms from all four, so knowing the difference will help you keep your health in better shape.
Peripheral Neuropathy: As the most common form of diabetic neuropathy, common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include numbness, sharp pains or cramps, increased sensitivity to touch, loss of balance and coordination, and muscle weakness.
Autonomic Neuropathy: Because this is the nerve system that controls your inner organs, autonomic neuropathy tends to create bladder problems, constipation, slow digestive processing, difficulty swallowing, and even erectile dysfunction in men.
How is Diabetic Nerve Pain Different than Other Pain?
Pain is your body’s way of telling you when something isn’t working as it should. Two common types of pain include muscle pain and nerve pain, but they both communicate different lessons about what’s wrong with your body.
Muscle pain is a ‘protective’ type of pain that is usually triggered by a musculoskeletal injury or inflammation. In these instances, the nerves in your injured body part send electric signals to your brain as a signal that damage has occurred and you should stop the behavior that caused it. Usually, muscle pain gets better over time.
In contrast, nerve pain is a non-protective form of pain that occurs when the nerves themselves get damaged, often from disease. Oftentimes, nerve pain sends signals to your brain even when you aren’t doing something that should be painful, like getting dressed. This kind of pain is common in the feet and hands, and it is usually a sign that permanent damage has taken place, meaning that resting the injured area will only reduce the symptoms, not restore it.
Effects of Living with Diabetic Nerve Pain
If you experience nerve pain in foot areas, you shouldn’t ignore the symptoms in hopes that they go away. It’s all too common for people to ignore the signs of their nerve pain for years until the damage is debilitating. Don’t become another statistic.
Instead, it’s essential that you seek out medical treatment so that your doctor can prescribe proper diabetic neuropathy treatment. Give details about your symptoms, and a medical professional will have a better chance of choosing the right nerve pain medication for you.
For most nerve diseases, prevention is critical. This means that the best way to keep diabetic nerve pain under control is to treat your diabetes. Monitoring your blood sugar, eating a healthy diet, and getting regular exercise will prevent your nerves from being strained to the point that they suffer from long-term damage. By taking the issue seriously when you first notice the symptoms, you can stop yourself from losing precious sensitivity in your hands and feet.