Diabetic Neuropathy - Treatment Overview

Good control of diabetes over time is the key to treating diabetic neuropathy. There is no cure for neuropathy, but keeping your blood sugar within a target range can reduce symptoms and prevent them from getting worse.

To help control your diabetes, eat food that is good for you and exercise. Controlling diabetes means maintaining blood sugar levels (A1c) within the target range. This will do more than anything else to help prevent diabetic neuropathy from getting worse.

Initial and ongoing treatment

Treatment for diabetic neuropathy depends on your symptoms and the type of neuropathy that you have. In general, treatment focuses on reducing current symptoms and preventing the condition from getting worse by keeping your blood sugar level within your target range. You can keep your blood sugar levels within the target range by taking your insulin or oral diabetes medicine as prescribed, checking your blood sugar levels, following your diet for diabetes, exercising, and seeing your doctor regularly.

Also, it is important to properly care for your feet when you have diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy may cause a loss of feeling in your feet. It is possible for a sore or other foot problem to go unnoticed. Without proper foot care, an untreated foot sore can lead to a serious infection or possibly amputation.

Diabetes: Taking Care of Your Feet

It is also wise to maintain healthy habits such as seeing your doctor regularly, controlling your blood pressure, eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, not smoking, and limiting or avoiding alcohol. Further treatment depends on the specific type of diabetic neuropathy that you have along with your current symptoms.

Peripheral neuropathy

Many people with peripheral neuropathy have mild to severe pain in specific parts of their bodies. Talk with your doctor about treatment that can reduce your pain and improve your physical functioning, mood, and mental well-being. Some people find these treatments helpful:

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Autonomic neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy-which affects nerves that regulate internal functions-can affect digestion, urination, sweating, sexual function, blood pressure, and other involuntary body functions. Some symptoms of autonomic neuropathy can be hard to manage, but others respond well to treatment:

Treatment if the condition gets worse

If diabetic neuropathy gets worse, you may have serious problems such as severe gastroparesis, bladder infections, or foot problems. In addition to keeping your blood sugars in your target range and taking good care of your feet, you may need further treatment if diabetic neuropathy progresses.

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Diabetic neuropathy is a major risk factor for foot infections or foot ulcers leading to amputation. It is possible to have permanent disfigurement in one or both of your feet (such as Charcot foot camera.gif) from diabetic neuropathy. Surgery is sometimes needed to correct deformed joints that can result from Charcot foot.

Severe gastroparesis may require other treatment, such as medicines that empty the stomach more quickly or a feeding tube that is inserted into the stomach.

Severe bladder infections or other bladder problems, such as loss of control, may require further diagnostic testing and treatments such as medicines or surgery to improve bladder function.

Also, it is common to experience symptoms of depression with any chronic disease, such as diabetes or diabetic neuropathy. Seeking help for depression may improve your overall well-being and aid in the treatment of your condition.

Interactive Tool: Are You Depressed?

What to think about

No matter what you or your doctor try, you may not be pain-free. Be clear with your doctor about what is helping and what is not. You and your doctor can work together to find the right combination of medicine and other treatments to help you the most.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

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