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Can diabetes cause nerve damage? — Yes. People with diabetes (sometimes called “diabetes mellitus”) can get nerve damage if they have high blood sugar levels for a long time. Another word for nerve damage is “neuropathy.”
People with diabetes can get different types of nerve damage. This article covers the most common type of nerve damage caused by diabetes.
What are the symptoms of nerve damage caused by diabetes? — Nerve damage usually affects the toes and feet first. Some people do not feel any symptoms, but other people can have symptoms that include:
As nerve damage gets worse, symptoms can move from the feet up the legs. Once people feel symptoms in the middle of their lower legs, they might also start to feel symptoms in their hands.
Is there a test for nerve damage caused by diabetes? — Yes. Your doctor can usually tell if you have nerve damage by talking with you and doing an exam. Sometimes, a doctor will do a test to check how well a person’s nerves are working. This test is called “electromyography.”
How does nerve damage lead to problems? — Nerve damage can lead to problems, because it can make people unable to feel pain in their feet.
Normally, people feel pain when they get a cut on their foot. The pain tells them that they need to treat their cut so that it can heal. But people with nerve damage might not feel any pain when their feet get hurt. They might not even know that they have a cut, so they might not treat it. Problems that aren’t treated right away can get much worse. For example, an untreated cut can get infected and turn into an open sore.
Nerve damage can also lead to problems with the bones, muscles, and joints in the feet. Over time, this can cause a person’s foot to have an abnormal shape.
What can I do to protect my feet and manage my condition? — You can:
What other treatment might I have? — Some people might have other treatment for symptoms or problems caused by nerve damage. They might have treatment for:
How often should my doctor check my feet? — Your doctor should do a complete check of your feet once a year. He or she should also do a quick check of your feet at every visit.
Can nerve damage be prevented? — Yes. If you have diabetes, you can reduce your risk of getting nerve damage by:
Patient information: Type 1 diabetes (The Basics)
Patient information: Type 2 diabetes (The Basics)
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Patient information: Neuropathic pain (The Basics)
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