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30th January 2023

What is Diabetic Neuropathy?: Symptoms, prevention, and treatments

Dr. Jill Barat, PharmD
What is Diabetic Neuropathy?: Symptoms, prevention, and treatments

What is diabetic neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy, specifically peripheral diabetic neuropathy, can occur in diabetics when the nerves in their feet and legs start becoming damaged by excess glucose.

And up to ½ of those with diabetes could be experiencing some level of peripheral diabetic neuropathy.

In addition to the painful sensations, numbness in the feet and legs can put diabetics at risk for additional foot complications including ulcers, wounds, infections, and amputations.

Diabetics should perform regular foot checks, always wear protective footing, keep up with toenail grooming, and be seen by a podiatrist regularly.

Nerve damage can feel painful, but the pain sensation tends to be different than just your general pain sensation.

Nerve pain can have elements of numbness, tingling, or even a burning sensation.

The symptoms of peripheral diabetic neuropathy generally occur in the feet, legs, and sometimes hands and arms.

Symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy can include:

Loss of sensation in feet or legs

Shooting pain

Burning sensation

Tingling sensation


Sensitivity to touch

Difficulty coordinating when walking

How to help prevent peripheral diabetic neuropathy?

1. Control your diabetes well:

The longer you have diabetes and the longer it is not well controlled may put you at a higher risk for nerve damage and diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

The best thing that you can do to prevent developing neuropathy if you have diabetes is to keep your blood sugar in the recommended ranges, listen to your doctor, and properly manage your diabetes.

2. Normalize your blood pressure:
Having higher than normal blood pressure can also damage your nerves and vessels and put you at higher risk for developing diabetic neuropathy.

Take your blood pressure medications as directed, eat a healthy diet, reduce sodium intake, and measure your blood pressure at home to properly control your condition.

3. Lower your cholesterol:
Just like how having excess glucose in your blood can damage your nerves, having excess fat in your blood can also cause problems.

Eat a healthy low-cholesterol diet, take your medications as prescribed, and integrate regular exercise as advised by your doctor to keep your cholesterol in a normal range.

4. Maintain an ideal body weight:
Having a higher-than-recommended body weight may also contribute to your risk of developing diabetic neuropathy if you are a diabetes patient.

Eat a healthy diet and integrate exercise into your routine to help maintain a healthy body weight.

5. Only drink alcohol in moderation:
Excessive consumption of alcohol may exacerbate nerve damage in those with diabetes.

Cut out alcohol or only drink alcohol in moderation to reduce your risks of developing diabetic neuropathy if you are a diabetic.

6. Do not smoke:
Smoking isn’t just bad news for your lungs, it can harm your vessels and nerves too.

Taper down and set a date to quit to give you the best chances of avoiding diabetic neuropathy if you are a diabetic.

Peripheral diabetic neuropathy treatments

1. Diabetes Control

Controlling your blood glucose levels may help relieve some of the pain from peripheral neuropathy and help prevent its progression.

Talk with your healthcare team about ways to optimize your blood glucose control and diabetes therapy.

2. General Pain Control

Pain creams applied directly to the foot and leg pain areas may help control pain from peripheral neuropathy.

Oral over-the-counter pain medications may help reduce moderate pain in the legs. Only use over-the-counter medications that your doctor approves as safe for you.

3. Nerve Pain Medications

Prescription medications such as Gabapentin and Pregabalin are indicated specifically for nerve pain, and may help relieve neuropathy symptoms more than general pain medications.

Other prescription medications sometimes used for neuropathy include: Carbamazepine, Amitriptyline, Imipramine, Duloxetine, and Venlafaxine.

NeuraZenx from Zen Nutrients nerve support supplement

While diabetic neuropathy is normally a long-term condition, there may be lifestyle choices you can make and treatments that may help slow the progression or improve your symptoms.

At Zen Nutrients, we have a doctor and pharmacist-formulated nerve support supplement that may aid in general nerve health called NeuraZenx.*

You can learn more about NeuraZenx or order the supplement from Zen Nutrients: Here.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.