(From the Living Body Beautiful Magazine – Volume 7)
Diabetic and Non-Diabetic Neuropathy
The most common complication of diabetes is neuropathy. Unfortunately, even with your blood sugar in good control, neuropathy may occur. In fact, over time, this will occur in up to 50% of diabetics. Once diabetic neuropathy occurs, it almost always gets worse. Neuropathy is the leading cause of the ulcerations and infections that occur in the feet, and with advanced cases, amputation.
Patients suffer from nerve damage for many reasons — chemo, B-12 deficiency, diabetes, and even radiculopathy. Nonsurgical options can be performed to reduce pressure on the nerves to relieve the burning, tingling and pain and in many cases to restore sensation to the feet.
Of course, if one waits too long to save the nerve, recovery may not be possible. If you already have ulcerations on your feet, or have lost toes, then very little sensation may be recovered because the damage to the nerve has become irreversible. We have other ways to protect you at this point.
Who is a Candidate for this Type of Procedure?
The ideal candidate for surgery to restore sensation and strength is the diabetic who is beginning to experience numbness and tingling in the feet, who may have noticed changes in the shape of the feet or toes, or may have begun to experience problems with balance or falling. This patient should be examined in order to measure the degree of sensory and motor loss.
Special instruction is given to the patient in terms of daily inspection of the foot for early signs of skin breakdown or infection. When the Quantitative Sensory Testing demonstrates sufficient sensory loss, special shoes may be required to protect the feet. There are some medications that can be given to relieve the discomfort of the neuropathy on a temporary basis. And of course, you must be sure that your blood sugar level is the best that it can be.
If the sensory loss progresses to the point where you have numbness and tingling throughout the day or it even wakes you up at night, then you may be a candidate for surgical decompression of your nerve. The ideal candidate does not wait until there is no feeling left or until there is already an ulceration present. The ideal candidate seeks consultation while there is still time to reverse the damage to the nerves.