St. Louis Park, Minn. (March 21, 2011) – Approximately 60 to 70 percent of diabetic patients have some form of nerve damage, or neuropathy, according to published medical literature.
Sometimes this neuropathy results in diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), which causes them to experience stabbing, burning or shooting pain, or numbness or tingling sensations in their hands or feet. Today the American Diabetes Association – Minnesota Area released the results of its latest survey, indicating that nearly half of diabetes patients suffer from nerve pain, yet nearly two-thirds of them are not receiving treatment for the pain.
“Too many diabetes patients are in pain unnecessarily,” said Luke Benedict, MD, endocrinologist at Allina Hospitals and Clinics and president of the Minnesota Area Community Leadership Board at the American Diabetes Association. “They either are not being treated for their pain, or they are not seeing improvement under their current treatment. Their sleep, job performance, and overall quality of life are suffering because of it.”
The American Diabetes Association conducted the survey to identify diabetic patients in Minnesota who have nerve pain. The key findings in Minnesota are:
• 47.9 percent of patients surveyed reported nerve pain (burning, aching and/or tenderness in the hands, arms, legs and/or feet).
• 50 percent of patients reporting nerve pain had pain of moderate to severe intensity.
• 74.8 percent of patients reporting nerve pain had suffered with symptoms for a year or longer and reported nerve pain mainly in their feet (80%) and hands. This pain was reported as primarily occurring throughout the day (45%) or at night only (24%).
• 65.5 percent of patients reporting nerve pain were not receiving treatment for their pain.
• 54.5 percent of patients reporting nerve pain had received a diagnosis of DPN from a physician.
• 35.9 percent had not been diagnosed with DPN, despite experiencing symptoms of nerve pain.
• 48.1 percent of the patients who were receiving medication for their nerve pain were unsatisfied with their current treatment.
• Nerve pain had a negative impact on the health status, quality of life, sleep patterns, activity levels, and job performance of individuals reporting nerve pain.
• Nerve pain had a greater negative impact on the health status, quality of life, sleep patterns, activity levels, and job performance for individuals receiving treatment for nerve pain, as compared to individuals not receiving treatment. This may be explained in part by the fact that individuals receiving nerve pain treatment also reported higher pain severities as compared to untreated individuals.
• 49.5 percent of respondents indicated that their most recent HgA1c levels were lower than 7. (For most diabetes patients, the goal is to maintain HgA1c levels below 7. HgA1c levels are used as an indicator of long-term blood glucose control.
A total of 310 Minnesotans with diabetes participated in the survey, which was conducted via e-mail in December 2010. Males and females ages 8-82 were included; more than three-quarters of them have type 2 diabetes.
What DPN patients should know
“If you are a person with diabetes experiencing nerve pain in your extremities, discuss the problem and identify appropriate treatment options with your physicians and caregivers,” said Dr. Benedict.
The survey results come as the ADA prepares for its 23rd annual Alert Day on Tuesday, March 22, when the ADA begins its month-long aim to have one million Americans take the Diabetes Risk Test. The “Join the Million Challenge” helps people determine if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and if they are at high risk, encourages them to speak with their health care providers.
“Of the nearly 26 million Americans with diabetes, 7 million of them don’t know that they have it,” said Dr. Benedict. “The ‘Join the Million Challenge’ will help some of those 7 million people start addressing the impacts of their diabetes before their symptoms become more severe.”
The “Join the Million Challenge” continues through Friday, April 22. To take the Diabetes Risk Test, visiting www.stopdiabetes.com, call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383), or text JOIN to 69866.
Diabetes affects nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States. A quarter of those with diabetes – seven million – are unaware they have it. An additional 79 million, or one in three American adults, have pre-diabetes, which puts them at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes. If current trends continue, one in three American adults will have diabetes by 2050.