Painful diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve disorder experienced by many patients suffering from diabetes mellitus, a condition in which the body cannot produce or properly utilize the hormone known as insulin. Painful diabetic neuropathy can occur in anyone with diabetes, but is more commonly experienced with advanced age or in those patients who have suffered from the disease over a prolonged period of time. Treatment typically begins with trying to get the patient's blood sugar levels under control. Once this has been accomplished, other symptoms can be treated individually as they arise.
While painful diabetic neuropathy is most commonly present in the feet, the nerve damage and pain can occur anywhere in the body. The hands, feet, and legs are the usual places where the pain and numbness of painful diabetic neuropathy occur. However, this nerve damage can also affect other bodily organs and systems, including the digestive tract, heart, and the reproductive organs of both genders. It is important for the diabetic patient to be monitored regularly by a physician so that any potential complications of the disease can be spotted and treated as soon as possible.
The symptoms of painful diabetic neuropathy often begin in the feet. Nerve damage involving the feet is a common reason for foot amputation among diabetics. Therefore, proper foot care is of vital importance. Feet should be kept clean, dry, and moisturized at all times. Socks or shoes should be worn in order to help prevent damage or injury to the feet. Consult a doctor if any cut or scratch seems to be healing more slowly than normal.
Prescription medications are often used to treat the symptoms of painful diabetic neuropathy. Certain antidepressants have proved to be useful in the treatment of nerve pain, often being prescribed in combination with prescription pain medications. Anticonvulsants, or seizure medications, can sometimes help to relieve the pain of painful diabetic neuropathy as well. Medicated ointments cannot only help to relieve pain, but they can also keep the skin moisturized, something that becomes more challenging as diabetes progresses.
If stomach or intestinal problems occur as a result of painful diabetic neuropathy, doctors often recommend lifestyle changes such as eating several small meals throughout the day. Increasing fiber intake while decreasing the amount of fatty foods in the diet is helpful as well. In some cases, medications may be given to help relieve such symptoms as nausea, vomiting, or constipation.