Diabetic Neuropathy (cont.)
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.
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.
In this Article
- Diabetic neuropathy facts
- What is diabetic neuropathy?
- What are the types of diabetic neuropathy?
- What are the symptoms and signs of diabetic neuropathy?
- How is diabetic neuropathy diagnosed?
- What are treatments for diabetic neuropathy?
- What are self-care measures to help relieve diabetic neuropathy?
- Can diabetic neuropathy be prevented?
- Diabetic Neuropathy FAQs
- Find a local Endocrinologist in your town
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:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Feeling full after eating a small amount
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Incontinence of urine
- Inability to empty the bladder completely
- Decrease in vaginal lubrication in women
- Profuse sweating, for example when eating or at night
- Difficulty swallowing
- Low blood pressure upon standing up suddenly (orthostatic hypotension)
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:
- Chest pain
- Eye pain
- Changes in vision
- Bell's palsy (paralysis on one side of the face)
- Pain in a localized area of the body
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.
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