Bahrain's 70,000 diabetics 'may suffer nerve pain'
Manama, December 22, 2010
Up to 70,000 diabetics in Bahrain could be suffering from nerve pain that might lead to amputation, a top health expert has warned.
There are around 130,000 diabetics in Bahrain, of which between 60 per cent to 70 per cent could be suffering, said Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) vascular and renal transplant surgeon and consultant Dr Sadiq Abdulla.
'The condition, known as painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN), is caused by damage to the nerves as a result of raised and uncontrolled blood glucose levels seen in diabetes,' he told our sister newspaper Gulf Daily News (GDN).
'It presents as either a burning pain, numbness or tingling in one or more of the limbs and could ultimately lead to limbs or parts of limbs being amputated.'
Dr Abdulla said serious efforts were being exerted to help prevent the condition by educating diabetics on how to take care of themselves as well as reporting their condition early.
'This condition is a big problem for Bahrain, which has a large percentage of the patients at risk of the complication,' he said.
'This means that hundreds of thousands of patients may be suffering from the pain.'
Dr Abdulla said that the pain associated with diabetic neuropathy varied in severity, depending on the type of nerve damage caused.
'It can be localised to the feet or can spread up the legs to the knees and to the waist and trunk and can involve one limb or all four limbs,' he said.
The health expert said the unfortunate part was that despite suffering severe pain, many patients fail to seek medical help.
'As a result only around 10 per cent of patients with painful diabetic neuropathy seek medical help, according to local pain management experts,' said Dr Abdulla.
He said the pain caused by diabetic neuropathy was a real problem, especially among the local population.
'They fail to come forward for treatment due to social constraints, even when diabetic nerve pain is having a detrimental effect on their quality of life,' said Dr Abdulla.
'Chronic pain not only causes physical disabilities, but can lead to sleep and mood disturbances, which in turn cause anxiety and depression that affect people's quality of life.'
It was announced in October that a new BD2 million centre for pain management was being set up at the SMC.
The centre could greatly reduce and ultimately eliminate limb amputations, said officials.
Bahrain had already taken great strides in wound and pain management for diabetics, which resulted in considerable decrease in cases of amputations, they added.
In 2003, there were 22 major amputations in three months (73 in the whole year); but the figure was only 10 last year.
Dr Abdulla said there were still around 50 to 60 minor amputations per year such as toes, a figure he hoped could be brought down. He said diabetics, in particular, should be extra careful of their feet since high glucose levels can damage nerves resulting in abnormal or decreased sensation.-TradeArabia News Service