Is Diabetes Getting On Your Nerves?

Article by Professor John Corbett
MB, BS (HONS), FRCP (UK), FRACP, MA (Oxford), D. Phil (Oxford), MACLM, Professor of Medicine (Griffith)

Diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases amongst Australian seniors, with the ABS reporting that one in six people over 65 are affected (this rate has doubled in the past two decades). It is the seventh leading cause of death in Australia and is a major cause of pain and disability.

Much is reported about diabetes; yet its neurological toll on sufferers is still widely unrecognised.

Diabetes results in a dramatically increased risk of stroke and other cardiovascular diseases, which can cause a ‘domino effect’ on the body’s central and peripheral nervous systems.  It can also cause dementia (“vascular cognitive impairment”).

Peripheral nerve damage is a major complication of diabetes. This may cause pins & needles, numbness, tingling, “burning” pain in the feet and poor balance due to accelerated ageing of the body’s longest nerves.

Foot pain often makes barefoot walking painful and burning pain may turn night-time attempts to sleep into misery. Diabetics also often experience muscle pain with exercise, preventing activities such as golf, tennis and bowls.

The good news is that early diagnosis, medical interventions and lifestyle changes (especially weight-loss and exercise) can greatly relieve symptoms and also improve long-term outcomes.

Proper testing is important – not simply to identify the diabetes itself, but also to pinpoint any related nerve damage and monitor progress.

Corbett Neurophysiology Services (CNS) provides bulk-billed, premium-quality nerve testing (NCS) performed by qualified Neurologists and Scientists who specialise in neurophysiology. NCS testing also helps to exclude other underlying, co-existing disorders such as carpal tunnel syndrome, which is more common in diabetics.

CNS provides same-day results and specialist management-recommendations to GPs. We also explain the test results to patients in the same-day consultation.

For more information visit www.corbett.com.au or ask your GP for a referral.