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Diabetic Neuropathy New Painless Test For Early Detection and Evaluation
Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes. Elevated blood sugar can damage the nerves throughout your body, but the most common type of diabetic neuropathy damages the nerves in your legs and feet. It is estimated that 50% of diabetics will develop neuropathy.
Diabetic neuropathy symptoms can range from pain and numbness in you extremities to problems with you digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels and heart. These symptoms may be mild, or can be painful, disabling, and even fatal. It is a serious complication of diabetes, yet often can be prevented by tight blood sugar control, a healthy lifestyle, and early detection. Estimates are that a person with diabetic neuropathy has a six times greater chance of developing a serious diabetic complication. It is extremely important that treatment by a professional is sought.
Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of diabetic neuropathy. Normally, the feet and legs are affected first, followed by your hands and arms. Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy might include one or several of the following
Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain or coldness in your feet and toes.
A tingling or burning feeling
Sharp, jabbing pain that might be worse at night
Pain when walking
Extreme sensitivity to light touch, maybe even a bed sheet
Muscle weakness and difficulty in walking.
Serious foot problems such as ulcers, infections, which may go untreated due to lack of sensation and awareness, foot deformities, and bone and joint pain.
New Non-Invasive Three-Minute Test, Sudoscan
In the past, the main testing for detection of neuropathy involved a nerve conduction study, which was very inaccurate for detection of small nerve neuropathy, or taking multiple skin samples which involved a minor surgical procedure under local anesthesia. Recently, a new non-invasive, painless diagnostic machine has been developed which allows a professional to perform an evaluation which takes three minutes from start to finish, is painless, and which enables the physician to evaluate the extent and progression of the neuropathy and predict the possibility of developing an as yet undetected small nerve neuropathy.
The Sudoscan works by detecting the degeneration of small nerve fibers as measured by the nerve innervation and function of the eccrine sweat glands of the hands and feet. This is usually the first sign of a small nerve neuropathy. The test is painless with the patient simply placing their hands and feet on detection pads for three minutes. A two page detailed computer printout is immediately available for interpretation by a professional.
Besides the most important aspect of treatment, which is controlling blood sugar and a healthy lifestyle, there are many and newer treatments for not only the symptoms, but the underlying causes of diabetic neuropathy. Prescription drugs such as Lyrica, Cymbalta, and Gabapentin, are popular options to ease the pain. More recently, however, treatments have included prescription strength combinations of B vitamins that actually target the underlying causes. Also, there are now several locally applied creams and gels available from compounding pharmacies that help with the pain and nerve re-innervation.
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