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Diabetic nerve pain on rise in Oman.

Muscat: More than 75,000 people in Oman may be suffering from diabetic nerve pain, making it a leading and costly healthcare problem for the country, local doctors who are experts in pain management have warned as the start of a new decade approaches.

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.

It comes as either a burning pain, numbness or tingling in one or more of the limbs and research has shown that it affects around 26 per cent of all those with type 2 diabetes, although not all patients report their symptoms.

With diabetes reported to affect 13.1 per cent of Oman's adult population which is estimated to have hit 2.3 million, this means that right now around 301,300 million people in Oman suffer diabetes.

Approximately 78,338 of these diabetic patients could be suffering from nerve pain and needing treatment.

"Diabetic nerve pain is a big problem for Oman with around 13 per cent of patients who have diabetes at risk of the complication. This means that hundreds of thousands of patients may be suffering pain as we speak. In my experience this number rises to 50 per cent in those who have had diabetes for more than 10 years. The pain can be very severe with some patients not even able to tolerate the weight of their bed sheets on their thighs," warned Dr Esmat Mohammed Saleh, consultant endocrinologist at Al Zahra Medical Centre in Muscat.

"Pain associated with diabetic neuropathy varies in severity depending on the type of nerve damage caused. The pain can be localised to the feet or can spread up the legs to the knees and to the waist and trunk. It can involve one limb or all four limbs and sometimes there can be facial or back pain," he added.

However, despite suffering severe pain many patients fail to seek medical help due to cultural conventions that frown on voicing concerns over pain. As a result only around 10 percent of patients with painful diabetic neuropathy seek medical help, according to local pain management experts.

"The pain caused by diabetic neuropathy is a real problem, especially among the local population who 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. Saleh.

"Chronic pain not only causes physical disabilities but can lead to sleep disturbances and mood disturbances, which in turn cause anxiety and depression, which affect people's quality of life. Pain-sufferers also have to take time off work which costs the country's economy millions of dollars," he added.

Muscat Press and Publishing House SAOC 2009

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Publication:Times of Oman (Muscat, Oman)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Dec 22, 2010
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