Dr. MJ Bazos MD, Patient Handout
Diabetic Neuropathy

What is diabetic neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that happens in people who have diabetes. This damage makes it hard for their nerves to carry messages to the brain and other parts of the body. It can cause numbness (loss of feeling) or painful tingling in parts of the body. Diabetic neuropathy can also affect the following:

What causes diabetic neuropathy?
Nerve damage occurs in people who have had diabetes because their blood sugar level is higher than normal. Over time, high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels and nerves. That's why people who don't control (or can't control) their blood sugar very well seem more likely to get diabetic neuropathy. Men have diabetic neuropathy more often than women.

What can I do to avoid diabetic neuropathy?
Most importantly, keep your blood sugar under control. Take your medicines just the way your doctor tells you to. Eat a variety of healthy foods and avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. If you are overweight, ask your doctor to help you lose weight. Exercise as regularly as possible.

How do I know if I have diabetic neuropathy?
If you have numbness in your feet and toes, you may have diabetic neuropathy. You may notice that cuts and sores on your feet don't hurt as much as you would expect them to. The following are also symptoms of diabetic nueropathy:

What will happen if the nerves in my legs and feet are damaged?
If diabetic neuropathy has damaged the nerves in your legs and feet, you may not be able to feel pain in those parts of your body. This is a problem because pain can be a useful signal. If you have no feeling in your feet, you could have an injury and not know it. In addition, your muscles might atrophy (decrease in size), causing you to have trouble walking. The skin on your feet
might crack and develop sores. If these sores get much worse and become infected, you might have to go to the hospital, or possibly have your foot amputated (removed). Because diabetes makes it harder for an injury to heal, it's important to take good care of your feet.

What can I do to prevent foot problems from diabetic neuropathy?
Keep your feet healthy by following these tips: