How to Reverse Diabetic Nerve Damage

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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The symptoms of diabetic nerve damage can be painful and disruptive, but they can be reduced—and even reversed.

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Questions This Article Answers:

  • What are the signs of diabetic nerve damage?
  • Can I reverse the symptoms of diabetic nerve damage?
  • What areas of the body does diabetic nerve damage affect?

About 60 to 70% of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy, or nerve damage. Some people have no symptoms at all, while others may experience numbness, tingling, or pain in the feet first. Nerve problems can also occur in every organ system, including the digestive tract, heart, and sex organs. 

Diabetic Nerve Damage Symptoms

Though the exact cause or causes of neuropathy is unclear, researchers believe nerve damage is mainly the result of high blood glucose levels over long periods of time (chronic hyperglycemia). The highest rates of neuropathy are among people who have had diabetes for at least 25 years. Diabetic nerve damage symptoms include:

How to Reverse Symptoms

Diabetic neuropathies appear to be more common in people who have problems controlling their blood glucose (also called blood sugar), as well as those who are overweight or who have high blood pressure or high levels of blood fat. Reversing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathies primarily involves reducing blood glucose levels to within the normal range. Good blood glucose control may help prevent or delay the onset of further problems.

Foot care is another important part of treatment. People with neuropathy need to inspect their feet daily for any injuries. Untreated injuries increase the risk of infected foot sores and amputation. Smoking increases the risk of foot problems and amputation so quitting is vital to protecting your feet and overall health. Other treatments include pain relief and other medications as needed, depending on the type of nerve damage.

If you have diabetes, it’s important you remain proactive about blood glucose levels and up to date on doctor visits so all symptoms can be monitored and treated as needed. While the symptoms of diabetic nerve damage can be painful and disruptive, with attention and maintenance, they can be reduced—and even reversed.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2020 Aug 6
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Steps to Prevent or Delay Nerve Damage. American Diabetes Association. http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/neuropathy/steps-to-prevent-or-delay.html
  2. Diabetic Neuropathies: The Nerve Damage of Diabetes. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/Diabetes/diabetic-neuropathies-nerve-damag...