More than 10% of Americans suffer from diabetes, and of those, as many as half experience mild to severe nerve pain as a result of the disease. In fact, diabetic nerve pain is so common, it’s widely known as diabetic neuropathy.
Neuropathy can be hard to treat, even with pain medication. For diabetics, managing the underlying disease is critical, but even then, nerve pain can persist.
The team at Scottsdale Ketamine Clinic helps patients in and around Scottsdale, Arizona, manage diabetic nerve pain with ketamine infusions aimed at blocking pain signals at their source. Here’s how diabetes affects the nerves and how ketamine infusions can help relieve your painful symptoms.
Diabetes and neuropathy
Diabetes damages nerves in a couple of ways. First, it cuts off the blood supply to specific nerves. Second, it interferes with normal nerve signaling. Furthermore, elevated levels of fats called triglycerides may also contribute to nerve damage. People with diabetes are more likely to have higher levels of these fats in their blood.
Diabetic nerve damage can affect any nerve, but it most commonly affects the nerves in your hands and feet, a condition called peripheral neuropathy. This type of neuropathy is associated with symptoms like:
- Sharp pains
- Throbbing or aching
- Burning or stinging sensations
- Pins-and-needles or numbness
- Loss of feeling
- Loss of coordination
- Muscle weakness
Because peripheral neuropathy can cause numbness and lack of feeling in your feet or hands, people who have the condition are more likely to have wounds or injuries that they can’t feel, increasing their risk of developing dangerous infections.
A less common type of nerve damage, proximal nerve damage causes similar painful symptoms in the hips, thighs, buttocks, and stomach. There are also other types of neuropathy, and they affect the nerves that control your vision, your bladder and bowel functions, or your organs.
How ketamine helps relieve neuropathic pain
Pain seems like a simple enough physical reaction: You stub your toe and you feel pain. However, pain sensations are actually caused by a series of processes. First, there’s a complex chemical reaction, which then triggers nerve responses, which then your brain interprets as pain.
Part of this series of reactions involves tiny molecules called receptors, which are located on the surfaces of nerve cells. NMDA (n-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors are heavily involved in pain sensations. In people with neuropathy, these receptors are “extra active,” which means they send out pain signals more often than usual.
At the same time, when NMDA receptors are activated, they reduce the functionality of other receptors that help relieve pain. Researchers believe this reaction is why some people with neuropathic pain don’t find relief from opioid pain medicines, and why some people quickly develop a tolerance for these medicines.
Ketamine helps relieve neuropathic pain by blocking NMDA receptors, inhibiting pain signals and turning off the pain reactions associated with neuropathy. But the benefits don’t stop there. Ketamine doesn’t have the addiction risks associated with opioids, and ketamine infusions work rapidly, typically within a week of administration.
Manage your neuropathic pain
Neuropathic pain can interfere with sleep and daily activities, eventually leading to permanent nerve damage and a lack of feeling in the affected area. Early treatment is the key to avoiding serious complications and preserving nerve health and function.
Don’t ignore your nerve pain symptoms. To learn how our team can help, book an appointment online or over the phone with Scottsdale Ketamine Clinic today.