Diabetic Neuropathies

What is Diabetic Neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can occur if you have diabetes. High blood sugar can injure nerve fibers throughout your body, but diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs and feet. Depending on the affected nerves, symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can range from pain and numbness in your extremities to problems with your digestive system, urinary tract, blood vessels, and heart.

Types of Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy can affect different parts of the body. The four main types of diabetic neuropathy are:

  • Peripheral neuropathy – This type of neuropathy causes pain, tingling, and loss of feeling in the toes, feet, legs, hands, and arms.
  • Autonomic neuropathy – This type of neuropathy affects the nerves that control the heart rate, blood pressure, intestines, urinary tract, and sweat glands.
  • Proximal neuropathy – This type of neuropathy affects nerves in the thighs, hips, buttocks, and legs, causing pain in those areas.
  • Focal neuropathy – This type of neuropathy affects certain areas of the body, such as the face, abdomen, or chest. It typically causes sudden, severe pain.

Causes of Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic neuropathy is caused by high blood sugar levels. Advanced diabetes can cause damage to the protective covering of nerves. This damage, called neuropathy, can affect both sensory and motor nerves, resulting in various signs and symptoms.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Diabetic Neuropathy

Your doctor can diagnose diabetic neuropathy with a complete medical history and physical examination, as well as tests such as a nerve conduction study and an electromyography to evaluate nerve damage. Treatment of diabetic neuropathy typically includes medications, lifestyle changes, adequate nutrition, and glycemic control.