The first thing that comes to the mind of a diabetic at the mention of the term “neuropathy” is numbness and tingling in the feet. Neuropathy affects 60 to 70 percent of diabetic patients, and your doctor may have warned you to watch out for signs and symptoms in your feet.
What happens when the symptoms occur on your fingertips instead of your feet? Does it mean the same thing?
Most Neuropathy will commonly affect the feet in diabetics, but it can also affect your hands and fingertips. This can mean different things, including that the medications and diets are not adequately controlling your blood sugar level.
What is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Neuropathy, also known as “peripheral neuropathy,” is damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves that results in numbness, tingling, pain, and muscle weakness in the affected area.
Neuropathy typically starts in the feet or hands and spreads to other parts of the body.
Neuropathy is indicative of a problem within the peripheral nervous system.
The body consists of the central nervous system (the brain and the spinal cord) and the peripheral nervous system.
The peripheral nervous system is made of nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the body. These nerves send information to the arms, feet, legs, hands, skin, and internal organs. When this nerve becomes damaged, it disrupts its ability to send messages to other body areas.
Where dysfunction occurs in the body is mainly dependent on the cause and the location of the nerve damage.
The peripheral nerves fall into three categories: motor, sensory, and autonomic.
Neuropathy can affect one nerve or nerve type; this is called mononeuropathy, multifocal Neuropathy when it affects a combination of nerves in a limited area, and Polyneuropathy when it affects many peripheral nerves throughout the body.
Most diabetes suffers from Polyneuropathy, which is more reason why you experience a burning sensation in your fingertips.
Peripheral neuropathy symptoms depend solely on the type of nerve affected. For example, Autonomic nerve damage can cause excess sweating, unregulated blood pressure, and heat intolerance. Damage to the motor nerve can cause muscle weakness, cramping, and shrinking.
However, sensory nerve damage causes the burning sensation you may experience at your fingertip.
These symptoms will be focused on sensory nerve damage:
Large sensory fiber damage: Damage to the large sensory fibers affects feel and touch sensation. This occurs in the hands or feet; you may feel like you’re wearing gloves in these affected areas. This loss of this sensation can make fastening a button difficult for other activities such as walking.
Small fiber damage: The damage to the small nerve fiber causes a burning sensation in your fingers, affecting the feeling of pain and temperature. This burning sensation is often more potent at night. In addition to this, you may experience touch sensitivity or even numbness. This condition causes your body’s pain signals to change and, in many other cases, causes allodynia or severe pain from a slight touch. For example, a little touch from someone or the bedsheet from your bed may cause you severe pain. In contrast, it can also damage your ability to feel pain, you may not be able to feel pain when you have cuts or wounds, or a hot water bath may not feel like hot water on your body.
How to Live with Neuropathy
Roughly about 20million Americans are living with Neuropathy. It’s essential to talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing burning sensations in your hands or feet.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle which includes exercising, quitting smoking, and maintaining an average weight, is essential. For a diabetic patient, blood sugar level control is vital to allow nerve damage to recover or avoid further nerve damage. Regular exercise aids the nerve endings in the hands and the feet to receive more blood flow, helping to improve sensation and prevent the risk of potential complications.
For chronic neuropathic pain, your doctor may prescribe gabapentin, nortriptyline, or serotonin-norepinephrine. In some cases, topical lotions and creams help reduce the burning sensation in the hands and feet.
Diabetic Neuropathy Complications
While the primary symptoms of Neuropathy, like burning sensations in your hands, feet, leg, and toes, may be discomforting if left untreated, they can progress and contribute to numerous medical complications. Possible complications include the inability to feel sensations in the feet. Without good sensations in this area, a cut or sores may be unnoticed, and infections may occur due to this. If an infection to the limb is left untreated, it may result in the need for amputation.
To prevent the complications of diabetic Neuropathy, good foot care should be practiced; people living with this condition should inspect their feet every day for sores or injuries.
In conclusion, Diabetic Neuropathy is very susceptible in people with diabetes. Diagnosis includes a range of scans and tests for ankle reflexes, sensation, and skin texture.
It is essential to talk with your doctor if you experience any changes in sensations, burning, and tingling to avoid undetected infection and possible limb loss. Make sure you always maintain a good blood sugar level to minimize diabetic Neuropathy.