People who suffer from diabetes can develop peripheral neuropathy, which is a condition that affects the peripheral nervous system. In peripheral neuropathy, high blood sugar levels harm nerve fibers. Some patients report few or only minor symptoms when this occurs, while others experience painful symptoms. The condition can affect nerves anywhere in the body but it usually manifests in the feet and legs first.
When patients experience symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, treatment usually first focuses on preventing further nerve damage. Damaged nerves can’t be brought back to life or replaced, but better control of blood sugar levels can prevent the condition from worsening. Diet, exercise, and medication are often used together to help patients manage their blood sugar levels.
Once blood sugar levels have been addressed, treatment can focus on managing the pain. When over-the-counter pain relievers don’t provide sufficient relief, a doctor might suggest using prescription-strength medications to alleviate the pain that a patient is experiencing.
Once nerves are no longer being damaged, the pain that accompanies peripheral neuropathy typically goes away. At this point, patients can often stop taking prescription pain relief medication. Diabetes itself, however, is a chronic disease, and patients must continue to monitor their blood sugar levels for the rest of their lives to ensure the condition doesn’t worsen.
When choosing a doctor, patients who are suffering from diabetic pain should seek out someone who is board-certified by the American Board of Pain Medicine. Board-certified pain medicine specialists have extensive training in the field, and they’ve demonstrated their expertise by passing a rigorous examination. While any medical doctor can treat pain, these specialists have the most experience in this particular field of medicine.
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