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Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment

One of the first options in treating diabetic neuropathy is to bring blood glucose levels within the normal range, which can prevent further nerve damage. This aspect of treatment can include meal planning, exercise, and oral drugs or insulin injections. Additional treatment options depend on the type of nerve problem and symptoms involved.

Treating Diabetic Neuropathy: An Overview

The first step in diabetic neuropathy treatment is to bring blood glucose levels within the normal range to prevent further nerve damage. Blood glucose monitoring, meal planning, exercise, and oral drugs or insulin injections are needed to control blood glucose levels.
Although diabetic neuropathy symptoms may get worse when blood glucose is first brought under control, over time, maintaining lower blood glucose levels helps lessen symptoms of diabetic neuropathy. Good blood glucose control may also help prevent or delay the onset of further problems.
Additional treatment for diabetic neuropathy depends on the type of nerve problem and symptom, as described in the following sections.

Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment for Foot Problems

People with diabetic neuropathy need to take special care of their feet. The nerves to the feet are the longest in the body and are the ones most often affected by diabetic neuropathy. Loss of sensation in the feet means that sores or injuries may not be noticed and may become ulcerated or infected. Circulation problems also increase the risk of foot ulcers.
More than half of all lower limb amputations in the United States occur in people with diabetes -- 86,000 amputations per year. Doctors estimate that nearly half of the amputations caused by neuropathy and poor circulation could have been prevented by careful foot care. Therefore, good diabetic foot care is considered the diabetic neuropathy treatment for foot problems. Here are the steps to follow for foot care:
  • Clean your feet daily, using warm -- not hot -- water and a mild soap. Avoid soaking your feet. Dry them with a soft towel; dry carefully between your toes.
  • Inspect your feet and toes every day for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, calluses, or other problems. Use a mirror (laying a mirror on the floor works well) or get help from someone else if you cannot see the bottoms of your feet. Notify your healthcare provider of any problems.
  • Moisturize your feet with lotion, but avoid getting it between your toes.
  • After a bath or shower, file corns and calluses gently with a pumice stone.
  • Each week (or when needed), cut your toenails to the shape of your toes and file the edges with an emery board.
  • Always wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from injuries. Prevent skin irritation by wearing thick, soft, seamless socks.
  • Wear shoes that fit well and allow your toes to move. Break in new shoes gradually by wearing them for only an hour at a time at first.
  • Before putting your shoes on, look them over carefully and feel the insides with your hand to make sure they have no tears, sharp edges, or objects in them that might injure your feet.
  • If you need help taking care of your feet, make an appointment to see a foot doctor, also called a podiatrist.
(Click Diabetic Foot Care for more information on foot care for those with diabetic neuropathy.)
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