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Articles » NINDS Diabetic Neuropathy Information Page: NINDS
 

NINDS Diabetic Neuropathy Information Page: NINDS

Article title: NINDS Diabetic Neuropathy Information Page: NINDS

Conditions: Diabetic neuropathy


What is Diabetic Neuropathy?
Diabetic neuropathy, a nerve disorder caused by diabetes, is characterized by a loss or reduction of sensation in the feet, and in some cases the hands, and pain and weakness in the feet. The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, which vary among patients, are often slight at first. In fact, some mild cases may go unnoticed for a long time. The first sign of the disease is usually numbness, pain, or tingling in the hands, feet, or legs. After several years this may lead to weakness in the muscles of the feet. Occasionally, diabetic neuropathy can flare up suddenly and affect a specific nerve that may result in double vision or drooping of the eyelid, or weakness and atrophy of the thigh muscles. Nerve damage caused by diabetes generally occurs over a period of years and may lead to problems with internal organs including the digestive tract and sexual organs. These problems can then tend to cause indigestion, diarrhea or constipation, dizziness, bladder infections, and impotence. The loss of sensation in the feet is important as it may increase the possibility of injuries of which the patient is not aware. These foot injuries can develop into ulcers or lesions that can become infected. In some cases, ulcers may not heal and amputation may be required.

Is there any treatment?
The goal of treatment for diabetic neuropathy is to relieve discomfort and prevent further tissue damage. The first step is to bring blood sugar levels under control by diet and medication. Another important part of treatment involves taking special care of the feet. Analgesics, low doses of antidepressants, and some anticonvulsant medications may be prescribed for relief of pain, burning, or tingling. Some patients may find that walking regularly, taking warm baths, or using elastic stockings may help relieve leg pain.

What is the prognosis?
Prognosis for diabetic neuropathy depends largely on management of diabetes, the underlying condition. Treating the diabetes may halt progression and improve symptoms of the neuropathy, but recovery is slow. The painful sensations of diabetic neuropathy may become severe enough to cause depression in some patients.

What research is being done?
The NINDS conducts and supports research on diabetic neuropathy aimed at increasing understanding of the disorder and finding ways to prevent and cure it. New medications are currently being examined to assess improvement or stabilization of neuropathic symptoms.

 Organizations

American Chronic Pain Association (ACPA)
P.O. Box 850
Rocklin, CA 95677-0850
ACPA@pacbell.net
http://www.theacpa.org/
Tel: 916-632-0922
Fax: 916-632-3208

National Chronic Pain Outreach Association (NCPOA)
P.O. Box 274
Millboro, VA 24460
ncpoa@cfw.com
Tel: 540-862-9437
Fax: 540-862-9485

National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
National Institutes of Health
Bldg. 45, Rm. 4AS19
Bethesda, MD 20892-6400
nidrinfo@od31.nidr.nih.gov
http://www.nidr.nih.gov/
Tel: 301-496-4261

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
National Institutes of Health
Bldg. 31, Rm. 9A04
Bethesda, MD 20892-2560
http://www.niddk.nih.gov/
Tel: 301-496-3583

This fact sheet is in the public domain. You may copy it.Provided by:
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
National Institutes of Health
Bethesda, MD 20892


 

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