Living with peripheral neuropathy (PN) can present varying challenges, with the longevity of individuals diagnosed with the condition hinging on several factors. These include the underlying cause, any concurrent medical conditions, the severity of the neuropathy, and potential complications that may arise.
In the United States, diabetes frequently serves as the precipitating factor for PN. As per a 2019 study, diabetes-induced PN could lead to debilitating nerve pain and, in severe instances, necessitate lower limb amputation. It is worth noting that the life expectancy for patients who undergo amputation due to diabetes-related complications is generally reduced, averaging around two years post-operation.
Thus, the question of "How long can you live with neuropathy" doesn't have a straightforward answer, as it largely depends on the individual's overall health, how well they manage their diabetes, and how effectively they can control the progression of their neuropathy.
It's crucial to emphasize that early diagnosis and intervention for diabetic peripheral neuropathy may significantly curtail the risk of such severe complications. Timely treatment can slow the disease's progression, manage symptoms, and improve the patient's quality of life.
Moreover, adherence to lifestyle modifications, such as maintaining optimal blood glucose levels, engaging in regular exercise, consuming a balanced diet, and avoiding alcohol and smoking, can significantly mitigate the adverse effects of PN and potentially extend one's lifespan.
Living with PN requires persistent vigilance, proactive healthcare, and positive lifestyle choices to ensure the best possible outcome and longevity.
Living with neuropathy & what can you do about it
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy, which affects approximately 50% of those with diabetes, manifests in various ways. It can cause many symptoms, including but not limited to numbness, a burning sensation, tingling, muscle cramps, weakness, and an unusual sensitivity to temperature and touch.
Each person's journey with neuropathy is unique, and individual physical responses and coping mechanisms shape their experiences. Yet, there's one universally acknowledged truth: living with neuropathy can markedly change your lifestyle, often necessitating alterations to daily routines.
However, the question often arises: Can you live a normal life with peripheral neuropathy, particularly during its more severe stages? The answer is a resounding yes. While living with peripheral neuropathy can impact the quality of life, it doesn't preclude you from experiencing joy, fulfillment, and contentment.
Understanding the complexities and nuances of living with neuropathy, especially diabetic neuropathy, is critical to adapting and preserving your quality of life post-diagnosis.
One pivotal factor in living with neuropathy involves cultivating a proactive approach toward your health. Tracking your symptoms and engaging in regular consultations with healthcare professionals and following the prescribed treatment plans are essential. Additionally, lifestyle adjustments, including a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management, can significantly influence how you handle living with neuropathy. These strategies aid in managing symptoms and can contribute to an enhanced sense of well-being and control over your health journey.
While living with neuropathy can be challenging, navigating the intricacies of this condition and enjoying a meaningful life is entirely possible with the right resources, information, and support.
Stages of neuropathy
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy results from limited blood flow and elevated blood sugar levels. Depending on how well you manage your diabetes, neuropathy becomes worse over time but may take years to develop fully. There are five different stages of peripheral neuropathy.
● Stage 1: Pain, tingling, and numbness
Some of the earliest symptoms associated with neuropathy are tingling and numbness. These symptoms will occur only occasionally and maybe be uncomfortable rather than painful. In many cases, stage one symptoms are so minor that patients don’t recognize them as neuropathy.
● Stage 2: Increasing symptoms
As your neuropathy develops, the symptoms from stage one will become more persistent and occur more often. Stage two represents the cusp of neuropathy treatment — at this point, with the right treatments and diabetes management, you may be able to avoid or postpone permanent nerve damage.
● Stage 3: Daily pain
By stage three, the nerve damage is so great that you likely feel neuropathy pain throughout the day. Your feet and legs may also become numb, which can lead to a variety of dangerous foot problems and prevent you from feeling or caring for injuries, wounds, infections, etc.
● Stage 4: Numbness
In stage four, your nerves have sustained so much damage that they can’t send signals to your brain — as a result, your feet may be constantly numb, and you might not be able to feel any pain. As your nerves continue to die, it will become more difficult to balance or move. At this stage, the nerve damage is usually permanent.
● Stage 5: Complete nerve death
In the final stage of neuropathy, your nerves are permanently damaged, which means you no longer have any feeling in your feet or lower legs. People in this stage are often required to use a wheelchair to combat balance issues and are also required to take especially good care of their feet, as even a small cut or wound could lead to infection or worse.
How to Live with peripheral neuropathy
While it’s possible to slow the progression of neuropathy or even reverse it during its early stages, what happens when neuropathy has developed to the point of no return? Lifestyle changes and good habits can help alleviate neuropathy pain, aid in nerve regeneration, and manage your diabetes, but when further treatment is needed, several options are available.
Common pain management practices include:
- Prescription medications. Your doctor may prescribe medications such as pain relievers, anti-seizure medications (to relieve nerve pain), topical creams, or antidepressants to treat neuropathy.
- Therapy. Acupuncture or massage therapy may help relieve neuropathic pain by increasing blood flow and stimulating nerves.
- Surgery. Your doctor may recommend decompressive surgery to help relieve pressure on your nerves.
- Other treatments. Other procedures, such as electrical nerve stimulation, spinal cord stimulation, and dorsal root ganglion stimulation, may help relieve neuropathy pain.
Daily habits to adopt when living with diabetic neuropathy
In addition to doctor-prescribed treatments and procedures, you can cultivate several lifestyle habits that will help you better manage your diabetes — which, in turn, will help you manage your neuropathy. These lifestyle changes include:
- Controlling your blood sugar levels
- Taking your medications
- Exercising daily
- Eating a healthy and well-balanced diet
- Examining and caring for your feet and legs daily
- Not smoking
- Controlling your stress levels
Diabetic neuropathy FAQs
How long can you live with neuropathy?
Neuropathy is an uncomfortable, painful, and life-changing condition. However, with the proper care and attention, diabetic neuropathy will not shorten your lifespan. Instead, it may increase your risk of developing dangerous infections, leading to amputation or even death if left untreated.
Can you live a normal life with peripheral neuropathy?
People in the early stages of neuropathy may not need to alter their daily habits or lifestyle. However, if diabetic neuropathy is allowed to progress, walking, driving, or exercising may become difficult or impossible.
It can also be frustrating to manage neuropathy. The constant pain can be overwhelming and take a toll on your sleep, hobbies, relationships, and other facets.
Can you recover from diabetic neuropathy?
Nerves regenerate naturally but only to a certain point. If neuropathy goes untreated long enough, the nerves in your feet and lower legs will be permanently impacted. For this reason, it’s imperative to speak to your healthcare provider as soon as you experience neuropathy symptoms. The earlier it’s caught, the better the outcome will be.
Is neuropathy reversible?
Neuropathy may be reversible during its early stages if the root cause of the neuropathy is managed successfully. However, after a certain point, the nerves will become too damaged to regenerate on their own. At this stage, the neuropathy is permanent and irreversible.Viasox: all-day pain relief from neuropathy
- Help reduce numbness and pain in the lower legs and feet
- Increase blood flow and circulation
- Are seamless for a more comfortable experience
- Help protect against ulcers and wounds
- Offer anti-microbial and moisture-wicking benefits
- Have padded bottoms for better support and increased comfort
If you’re searching for the best diabetic socks for pain management, shop our collection online today to find a perfect pair.