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Diabetic Neuropathy: Diagnosis and Treatment

Diabetic neuropathy develops over time...and of course, the first thing to be considered when symptoms emerge is a history of diabetes.  Depending on the type of neuropathy involved, the symptoms will vary, as I discussed in the post just prior to this one.  Upon examination, the health care provider will take a look at a number of things including the patient's reflexes, loss of sensation,  and changes in skin coloration.

Tests that can help determine the presence of diabetic neuropathy may be ordered at this time. Here again, the type of neuropathy in question dictates the nature of the testing. It is not unreasonable to expect EMG, NCV, Gastric Emptying Studies, or a tilt table study

Once a diagnosis is established, you may be prescribed medications to manage the symptoms. The drugs commonly used for the pain management aspect of neuropathy are not usually those which cause problems with addiction. Some antidepressant and anticonvulsant medications, for example,  are actually better suited for this purpose.  There are other pharmaceuticals that can be utilized, depending on the neuropathy in question, but here again the potential for substance abuse is generally not of concern.

Pharmaceutical treatment of  diabetic neuropathy is only part of the long term solution to the problem. As is true with many of the other chronic pain issues that have been discussed in this blog,  lifestyle changes play a large role.  A healthy diet, exercise, and extra efforts at controlling blood glucose levels are important.  Care of the feet including self examinations, and wearing appropriate footwear can have a tremendous impact on day to day life with neuropathy.

Sources: NY Times
                Mayo Clinic


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