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Painful Diabetic Neuropathy (PDN)

Diabetes is a chronic medical condition that affects nearly 35 million people every year. In short, diabetes occurs when your body can’t produce enough insulin, which is the chemical that allows your cells to turn blood sugar into energy. As a result, too much sugar remains in your blood, which can cause serious health issues.

Painful diabetic neuropathy (PDN) is the most common complication associated with diabetes, affecting an estimated 50% of diabetes patients. The condition occurs when excess blood sugar damages nerves throughout the body, resulting in chronic pain.

What causes diabetic neuropathy?

The exact cause of diabetic neuropathy is not well understood. Experts believe that sustained high blood sugar levels can damage nerves, causing pain.

High blood pressure has also been shown to weaken the walls of capillaries. This can interfere with the capillaries’ ability to supply nerves with adequate amounts of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in nerve damage.

The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy often develop slowly, and sometimes they are not noticed until significant nerve damage has occurred.

What are symptoms of diabetic neuropathy?

There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy, each with different symptoms affecting different parts of the body.

Peripheral neuropathy

This is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy and affects the more “distant” body parts, including the feet, legs, hands, and arms. Symptoms most commonly present at night and can include:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling or burning
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch
  • Insensitivity to temperatures
  • Muscle weakness

Autonomic neuropathy

This is the second most common form of diabetic neuropathy and usually affect the digestive system, blood vessels, urinary system, and sex organs. Symptoms may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Reduced hunger
  • Trouble emptying bladder
  • Increased trips to the bathroom

Proximal neuropathy

This is a rarer form of diabetic neuropathy and is most commonly seen in men over 50 and adults with type 2 diabetes. It usually only affects one side of the body, though it can in rare cases spread to both sides. Symptoms may include:

  • Sudden, sometimes severe, pain in the hips, buttocks, or thighs
  • Weakness in the hips, buttocks, thighs, and leg muscles
  • Muscle atrophy in the lower body

Mononeuropathy

This form of diabetic neuropathy occurs when there is damage to one specific nerve and can cause symptoms such as:

  • Double vision
  • Pain behind one eye
  • Paralysis on one side of the face (known as Bell’s palsy)
  • Pain in isolated areas, like the back, stomach, chest, or lower legs
  • Pain in the chest or abdominal area

How is diabetic neuropathy treated?

There is no cure for diabetic neuropathy, but there are things you can do to help prevent it. First and foremost is maintaining healthy blood sugar levels by eating a nutritious diet and exercising. If you smoke, quitting can help reduce the likelihood of developing PDN.

If you do end up with diabetic neuropathy, Twin Cities Pain Clinic offers a variety of treatments that can manage the associated pain.

Spinal cord stimulation for painful diabetic neuropathy

Twin Cities Pain Clinic is proud to offer the HFX spinal cord stimulation (SCS) system from Nevro. HFX is the only SCS therapy system approved by the FDA specifically to treat the symptoms of painful diabetic neuropathy. Click the link below to learn more about this revolutionary treatment and view patient success stories.

HFX for diabetic neuropathy>

Schedule an appointment with Twin Cities Pain Clinic to learn how we can help treat your painful diabetic neuropathy pain.

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