Narrator: Frank Falcetta savors the time he spends with his son Marco. Moments like this are cherished because Frank is unable to participate in many activities because of chronic nerve pain.
Frank Falcetta: I can't do anything that has got high impact on your feet…
Narrator: Doctor Gregory Esper, a neurologist, treats Frank's nerve pain:
Gregory Esper, MD, MBA: You know there are a multiple different types of neuropathy, but far and away diabetes kills the other types of neuropathies with its prevalence.
Frank Falcetta: Your feet feel very leaden, they burn and tingle. Your hands feel the same because neuropathy affects your extremities first.
Narrator: Common symptoms of neuropathy are often ignored until they become debilitating.But experts advise seeking medical attention if unexplained pain, numbness or tingling persists for more than a couple of days — and this is especially true for diabetics like Frank.
Gregory Esper, MD, MBA: He already had developed pretty profound diabetic neuropathy. So for us, the only thing we could do was to say,Frank you need to control your diabetes to prevent progression, and here is what we are going to do to try and medicate you so you can feel better.
Narrator: It's not uncommon for diabetics to have short-circuited nerves cells resulting from prolonged high glucose (or sugar) levels in their blood.
Narrator: These days, Frank is careful to control his diet and stick to his regimen of meds to keep his levels within proper limits, but it's a discipline he's learned the importance of the hard way…
Frank Falcetta: So I have learned living with neuropathy, to test the water temperature with my elbow, rather than with my hands…
Narrator: Lack of full sensation in his hands and feet has sometimes led to serious injury…
Frank Falcetta: I have even burned my hand drinking a cup of coffee…
Gregory Esper, MD, MBA: Oh, it's terrible. The patients that have diabetic neuropathy and that suffer from numbness tingling and sharp pains have very great difficulty getting through the day.
Frank Falcetta: To just make sure that - just to be very vigilant about things. Make sure that I use good pot holders at all times so I can minimize burning myself.But it's very easy because you don't have the flinch reaction that protects normal people from burning themselves.
Narrator: And equally important—keeping his diabetes under control and following his doctor's orders to help keep his pain in check.
Gregory Esper, MD, MBA: Ultimately it's going to affect more than just the pain it's going to affect their wellness, it's going to affect their being, it's going to affect their interaction with other people,It's going to affect the way that they perform their job, and it's going to affect the way that they feel about themselves.