Painful Diabetic Neuropathy | San Diego

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Painful Diabetic Neuropathy is a type of nerve damage caused by chronically high blood sugar and diabetes. It primarily affects the legs and feet but can affect other areas as well. Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy can range from uncomfortable to extremely painful. There is no known cure for this condition, but symptoms can be managed through proper treatment.

Symptoms of Painful Diabetic Neuropathy vary from person to person. It can cause discomfort in some, and extreme pain in others. Symptoms may include but are not limited to:

  • Tingling or burning
  • Numbness
  • Oversensitive skin
  • Pins and Needles
  • Sharp stabbing pains
  • Muscle weakness
  • Balance problems

These symptoms primarily affect the feet and legs in most patients. Diabetic Neuropathy also increases the risk of injuries in the feet, as it can cause a loss of feeling. Those suffering from this condition are at a greater risk of developing foot ulcers or infections associated with unnoticed injuries due to lack of sensation in the feet.

The term Peripheral Neuropathy refers to damage to the peripheral nervous system. This includes any part of the nervous system that is not the brain or spinal cord. There can be many causes of Peripheral Neuropathy other than diabetes, such as vitamin deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, repetitive stress, traumatic injuries, and medications such as chemotherapy. Diabetic Neuropathy refers to Neuropathy (nerve damage) caused specifically by diabetes, and it requires managing diabetes in order to prevent further nerve damage.

Painful Diabetic Neuropathy is caused by chronically high blood sugar seen in both types 1 and 2 diabetes. This condition develops slowly, over the course of several years. While the damage is not reversible, patients can prevent further damage by managing their diabetes and keeping blood sugar levels regulated.

The risk factors for Painful Diabetic Neuropathy include:

  • Poor blood sugar control
  • Length of time since developing diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Kidney Disease

The complications of Painful Diabetic Neuropathy can be serious. This can include:

  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Increased risk of infection in foot injuries
  • Sharp drops in blood pressure
  • Digestive issues
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Increased or decreased sweating
  • Loss of a toe, foot, or leg

The main way to prevent developing Painful Diabetic Neuropathy is to keep blood sugar levels in your target range. Once someone develops this condition, the damage is irreversible. Luckily, further damage can be prevented by keeping blood sugar levels from getting too high.

How is Painful Diabetic Neuropathy Diagnosed and Treated?

There are several tests a doctor can run to diagnose someone with Painful Diabetic Neuropathy, in addition to reviewing a patient's medical history. These tests are aimed at checking muscle strength and tone, skin sensitivity, nerve response, and blood pressure changes.

Painful Diabetic Neuropathy is treated in two ways; controlling blood sugar levels and managing pain. Controlling blood sugar levels can prevent further damage to the nerves. Pain management can be a bit of trial and error, as one treatment does not work for all patients. There are several over-the-counter and prescription pain management options that a doctor may recommend.

Doctor showing a patient a clipboard

If you experience intense pain caused by Diabetic Neuropathy, a treatment called Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) may offer relief that pain medication cannot. SCS involves using a device to send mild electrical currents through the spine. A trial device is placed for approximately 5 - 7 days to see if the treatment helps relieve your PDN, and if successful then a permanent device is surgically placed under the skin. This option may not be right for everyone. A multi-disciplinary team will evaluate you prior to implant to ensure that it is the right fit for you. SCS is great for patients that have tried other ways of managing Painful Diabetic Neuropathy that did not work for them.

If you are suffering from Painful Diabetic Neuropathy, you know that managing pain can be difficult. Dr. Sandra Thompson at The Pain Center San Diego wants to help. Contact us to find out how we can help you manage your pain today.


Our entire practice revolves around helping patients feel better. Pain is a fact of life until it interferes with the joys of living. Sandra Thompson, MD, and The Pain Center San Diego have innovative and comprehensive solutions to all forms of discomfort.

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Phone Number:

San Diego Fax: (858) 437-6702

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4033 3rd Avenue, Suite 200
San Diego, CA 92103


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We are a group of pain management experts dedicated to helping patients live life better.

Dr. Thompson believes that life is to be enjoyed and that every effort should be made to minimize or eliminate pain. She offers a wide range of pain management alternatives.



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San Diego Phone: (619) 578-3740

San Diego Fax: (858) 437-6702

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  • 4033 3rd Avenue, Suite 200 San Diego, CA 92103