Diabetic Neuropathy

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Slideshow

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).

Quick GuideDiabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Slideshow: Exercises to Improve Diabetes Nerve Pain

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy Slideshow: Exercises to Improve Diabetes Nerve Pain

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.

What is diabetic neuropathy?

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 2/22/2016

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