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Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: Introduction

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a complication of diabetes in which the peripheral nerves are damaged due to chronically high levels of blood sugar (hyperglycemia).

The peripheral nerves connect the arms, legs, feet and hands to the spinal cord and brain. The function of the peripheral nerves is to transmit sensations and other information from the extremities to the spinal cord and brain and carry messages back from the brain to the extremities.

There are two general types of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. They include diabetic peripheral sensory neuropathy, in which the nerves the carry messages about sensation from the extremities to the brain are damaged. Diabetic peripheral motor neuropathy occurs when the nerves that carry messages about movement from the brain to the peripheral muscles are damaged.

People with diabetic peripheral neuropathy may also develop autonomic neuropathy in which ongoing hyperglycemia damages nerves that control such functions as sweating, blood pressure, and the function of the bladder and organs in the gastrointestinal system.

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy generally develops slowly over a period of months as ongoing high blood sugar levels injure the nerves of the extremities. Symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy include sensations of pain, numbness, tingling, or prickling that begins in the feet. In later stages of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, the hands can be affected as well. In some cases of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, the abnormal sensations can extend to the arms and legs.

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can also affect the muscles resulting in difficulty moving the feet, weakness, foot deformity, and atrophy. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy can also lead to complications. To read about additional symptoms and complications, see symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Diagnosing diabetic peripheral neuropathy begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms, and completing a physical examination, including a neurological examination. A neurological exam evaluates the nervous system and such functions as reflexes, sensation, movement, balance, coordination, vision, and hearing.

Tests may include an electromyography (EMG) which tests the nerve activity and electrical activity of muscles. A nerve conduction test may also be performed to test how fast the nerves transmit impulses.

Tests and evaluations may also be done to check for the development of sensory neuropathy, which can develop along with diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

A diagnosis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy can be delayed or missed because symptoms develop gradually and for other reasons. For information about misdiagnosis and diseases and conditions that can mimic diabetic peripheral neuropathy, refer to misdiagnosis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

Prevention of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is very important for people with diabetes, because there is no cure or treatment that can repair the damage that has been done to the nerves. For more information on prevention and treatment, refer to treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. ...more »

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: A neurological disorder where the peripheral nerves are damaged due to diabetes. The nerve damage can cause a number of symptoms including pain, loss of sensation and tingling. The feelings usually start in the peripheral areas such as the toes but may spread to the feet and hands.. ...more »

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: Symptoms

People with diabetic peripheral neuropathy can experience a variety of symptoms that commonly include abnormal or unusual sensations in the extremities. Symptoms include sensations of pain, numbness, pins and needles, tingling, or prickling that begins in the feet. In later stages, the hands can be affected as well. In some cases, the abnormal sensations can extend to the arms ...more symptoms »

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: Treatments

The first step in the treatment of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is prevention. Diabetic peripheral neuropathy cannot be cured and the damage done to the nerves cannot be repaired, so it is vital that people with diabetes prevent its occurrence.

Prevention includes a consistently following a plan to treat diabetes and normalize blood sugar levels as much ...more treatments »

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy and its cause may be delayed or missed because diabetic peripheral neuropathy generally develops gradually and people with the condition may be unaware of it until complications, such as foot infections and gangrene, develop. In addition, some symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, such as weakness ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Treatments for Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

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Wrongly Diagnosed with Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

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