Diabetic Neuropathy

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Diabetic neuropathy facts

  • Diabetic neuropathy is damage to nerves that occurs as a result of diabetes.
  • Diabetes is thought to damage nerves as a result of prolonged elevated levels of blood glucose.
  • Different types of diabetic neuropathy include peripheral neuropathy, focal neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, and proximal neuropathy.
  • Peripheral neuropathy most commonly causes:
    • pain,
    • burning,
    • tingling, and
    • numbness of the feet and lower legs.
  • Autonomic neuropathy causes symptoms related to dysfunction of an organ system, such as:
  • Diagnosis of diabetic neuropathy is usually done by a clinical exam.
  • There is no cure for diabetic neuropathy, but treatments are available to manage the symptoms.
  • Diabetic nerve pain may be controlled by medications such as tricyclic antidepressants, duloxetine (Cymbalta), or certain antiseizure medications.
  • Lidocaine and capsaicin are two topical agents that can help relieve nerve pain in many people.
  • Keeping tight control of blood sugar levels is the best way to prevent diabetic neuropathy and other complications of diabetes.

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Slideshow: Exercises to Improve Diabetes Nerve Pain

What is diabetic neuropathy?

Reader Stories

Neuropathy is damage to nerves, and diabetic neuropathy is damage to nerves that occurs as a result of diabetes. Diabetes is thought to damage nerves as a result of prolonged elevated levels of blood glucose. Diabetic neuropathy can affect different parts of the body, and symptoms can range from mild to severe. Diabetic neuropathy is the most common complication of diabetes.

What are the types of diabetic neuropathy?

There are different types of diabetic neuropathy. The distinction depends upon which types and location of nerves are affected.

  • Diabetic peripheral neuropathy refers to damage to peripheral nerves, most commonly the nerves of the feet and legs.
  • Diabetic proximal neuropathy affects nerves in the thighs, hips, or buttocks.
  • Diabetic autonomic neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system, the nerves that control body functions. For example, it can affect nerves of the gastrointestinal, urinary, genital, or vascular systems.
  • Diabetic focal neuropathy affects a specific nerve or area at any site in the body.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/25/2014

Patient Comments

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Diabetic Neuropathy - Effective Treatments Question: Please describe what treatments have been effective for your diabetic neuropathy.
Diabetic Neuropathy - Symptoms and Signs Question: What symptoms and signs did you experience with your diabetic neuropathy?
Diabetic Neuropathy - Experience With Diabetic Focal Neuropathy Question: Please describe your experience with diabetic focal neuropathy.
Diabetic Neuropathy - Other Conditions Question: What other conditions did you develop with your diabetic neuropathy?
Diabetic Neuropathy - Self-Care Question: Please share self-care tips that help relieve symptoms associated with diabetic neuropathy.

Neuropathy Symptoms

Loss of Pain and/or Temperature Sensation

Damage to the nerve pathways responsible for receiving, transmitting, or processing of external stimuli can result in the loss of pain and/or temperature sensation in that extremity (for example, arms, hands, fingers, legs, feet, and toes).