Dealing with diabetic peripheral neuropathy

June 28, 2016

Dealing with diabetic peripheral neuropathy

Medication, proper diet can help reduce complications

Medical experts say 60 to 70 percent of diabetics will deal with complications, but there are ways to prevent them.

Kimberly Walker has had diabetes her whole life and is used to dealing with the complications that come with the disease.

"I've been through a lot of up and downs with my sugars," Walker said.

But Walker said she was surprised about what developed in adulthood.

"It's painful," Walker said. "It's really painful."

Walker is talking about diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

"It's a type of nerve damage usually affecting the long nerves, especially the feet and the hands," said Dr. Amber Champion, the director of the Diabetes Center at Mercy Medical Center. "It is progressive and tends to get worse over time."

Champion said diabetic peripheral neuropathy is characterized by tingling, burning or numbness. While it is a common occurrence, there are steps that a patient can take to prevent it.

"The nerves are really sensitive to high blood sugar, so keeping the blood sugar stable is important to prevent and treat the neuropathy, and it's not just having a good A1C, or average blood sugar," Champion said. "It's those spikes, low and high, that can affect the nerves."

Champion said patients have to take care of their feet to avoid more complications or serious injuries.

Walker is following that advice. There is also medication available and diet tips that can help reduce the pain.

"I've got to keep those blood sugars under control," Walker said. "The higher the sugars, the higher the pain."