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Neuropathy and disability, part 2: connection to diabetes

In the first part of this post, we explained how neuropathy is, in layperson’s terms, a form of nerve damage. As we discussed, it is a common condition, yet one that is not very well understood.

The consequences of untreated neuropathy can be severe. They can include loss of the ability to walk, as well as other serious mobility issues. Understandably, such issues greatly affect the ability to work, and so may raise questions about eligibility for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) benefits.

These mobility issues are often associated with age. Loss of a normal sense of feeling in the feet may lead to a loss of balance – and thus put someone at risk of falls and fractures.

In this part of the post, let’s look at the connection between neuropathy and other serious condition, namely diabetes.

Neuropathy is not only a serious condition in its own right. It is also often a sign of another underlying disease. Lou Gehrig’s disease is one example of this. Diabetes is another.

The connection between neuropathy and diabetes is particularly prevalent. An estimated one-third of neuropathy cases are among people who are diabetic, according to the Neuropathy Association.

The causal connection between the two conditions is a brutal one. Diabetes harms the ability of blood vessels to supply small nerves located in the extremities of the body, particularly hands and feet.

This damage, in turn, harms the ability of those extremities to transmit sensory information back to the brain properly. The result is a loss of sensation that starts in the toes or fingers but can move on up to knees or arms.

Source: U-T San Diego, "Neuropathy: Causes abound but treatments exist that could lessen pain," Erinn Hutkin, Dec. 10, 2013

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