What could it be?
Diabetic Nerve Pain
Do you have shooting pain or stabbing pain in your extremities (hands or feet)? Do you also suffer from diabetes? Patients with diabetes can often have localised nerve damage that in turn may cause long-term or chronic pain. Such pain is called DPN, diabetic polyneuropathy, or sometimes diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Doctors might have a difficult time diagnosing DPN and its origins, so please be sure to tell your doctor if you have diabetes and now have chronic pain in your hands or feet.
What Is Diabetic Polyneuropathy?
Diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN) is a complication of diabetes, a disease in which patients show high levels of blood sugar over a prolonged time period. These high blood sugar levels can damage different body parts including nerves. It is estimated that about 20% of diabetes patients suffer from DPN according to a large observational study conducted in the UK.2
What Causes Diabetic Polyneuropathy?
Diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN) is a type of neuropathic pain that occurs if nerves are damaged as a result of diabetes. Damaged nerves cannot correctly transmit signals from the skin to the brain. Instead, these signals become exaggerated, causing chronic pain that may persist for months or even years.
What Are the Typical Diabetic Polyneuropathy Symptoms?
Although diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN) can affect all body parts, it is most commonly localised to the extremities, such as the hands or the feet. This is why DPN is also referred to as a type of localised neuropathic pain (LNP)1. The chronic pain associated with DPN can be described as 'shooting pain' or 'stabbing pain'. Although less common, some patients can experience itching or numbness.
What Can You Do?
Medication can help and early treatment may help reduce the symptoms so it is important to see your HCP for further advice regarding your condition. Do you have symptoms that you would describe as 'shooting pain' or 'stabbing pain'?
If you have diabetes and think that you might have DPN, please fill out the 'mypainfeelslike... questionnaire' and see your doctor at your earliest convenience. Be sure to tell your doctor that you have diabetes and now have chronic pain in the affected area. You can read more about possible treatment options here.
1. Mick G., et al (2012). What is localized neuropathic pain? A first proposal to characterise and define a widely used term. Pain Manage 2(1), 71-77.
2. Abbott CA, Malik RA, van Ross ER, Kulkarni J, Boulton AJ (2011) Prevalence and characteristics of painful diabetic neuropathy in a large community-based diabetic population in the U.K. Diabetes Care. 34: 2220–2224.