Neuropathy refers to damage of one or more groups of nerves. Neuropathy may be caused by a number of conditions, including injury, exposure to poisons, genetic disorders, alcoholism, vitamin deficiencies, and diabetes.
When food is consumed, the body converts it into glucose, a type of sugar. In most cases, the pancreas produces insulin, which helps to convert glucose into energy to fuel the body’s cells. In a diabetic body, however, glucose is not properly converted into energy. This may be caused by the pancreas producing insufficient amounts of insulin or because the body does not respond to insulin that is produced. Whichever way diabetes affects the body, the result is a consistently high blood sugar. Diabetes has the potential to cause a multiple of problems in the body, including the injury of nerve fibers throughout the body. This is diabetic neuropathy.
It is not known precisely why raised blood sugar has such strong effects on nerves. It is believed to be a combination of factors, including an interference in the interaction between blood vessels and nerves. Furthermore, high blood sugar weakens the walls of capillaries, the tiny blood cells that carry oxygen and nutrients to nerves. Autoimmune disorders causing nerve inflammation, unrelated genetic disorders, obesity, kidney disease, smoking, alcohol abuse, and/or failure to control blood sugar may also contribute to an increased risk of developing diabetic neuropathy.
There is no known cure for diabetic neuropathy, but treatment is available. This treatment is likely to focus on preventing the progression of the neuropathy, relieving pain, preventing complications, and working to restore any lost functionality. This treatment will include a combination of controlling blood sugar, healthy eating, regular physical activity, medication, treating additional underlying conditions.