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

Quick GuideDiabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: Exercises to Improve Diabetes Nerve Pain

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: Exercises to Improve Diabetes Nerve Pain

What are the symptoms and signs of diabetic neuropathy?

The symptoms and signs of diabetic neuropathy depend upon the type of neuropathy that is present. Signs and symptoms can also vary in severity among affected people.

Signs and symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Numbness or tingling of the feet and lower legs
  • Pain or burning sensations
  • Loss of sensation in the feet or lower legs
  • Sometimes, but less commonly, these symptoms can occur in the hands or arms

Signs and symptoms of diabetic proximal neuropathy include:

  • Pain, usually on one side, in the hips, buttocks, or thighs
  • Weakness of the legs

Signs and symptoms of diabetic autonomic neuropathy depend upon the organ system that is involved and can include:

Signs and symptoms of diabetic focal neuropathy also depend upon the location of the affected nerve.

The symptoms can appear suddenly. It usually does not cause a long term problem, and symptoms often improve over weeks to months. Symptoms can include:

How is diabetic neuropathy diagnosed?

Diabetic neuropathy is usually presumptively diagnosed clinically by the patient's symptoms, medical history, and physical exam. However, there are other tests that can definitively diagnose the condition by actually measuring the loss of nerve function. Nerve conduction studies measure the speed of nerve signals in the arms and legs, while electromyography measures the electrical discharges produced in muscles. Other tests of nervous system function may be done on some patients. About 45% to 50% of all patients with diabetes are eventually diagnosed with some form of neuropathy.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/22/2016

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