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Diabetic Neuropathy Affects More Than The Feet

Updated on March 4, 2015

Neuropathy In Diabetis

Did you know there are different kinds of diabetic neuropathy?

If you have diabetes, chances are you have at lease one form or another. Some have no symptoms.   Others have pain, tingling or numbness in their arms hands or feet. Neuropathy can occur in any organ, in any part of the body. Between 60 to 70% of diabetics have some form of neuropathy.

Peripheral Neuropathy the one most people are aware of and affects the extremities; toes, feet, legs, hands and arms.

Autonomic Neuropathy that affects the heart, sweat glands, eyes, lungs, urinary and digestive tact and sex organs.

Proximal Neuropathy affects the buttock, hips thighs and legs

Focal Neuropathy that affects the face, lower back, abdomen, chest, feet legs, and pelvis

Neuropathy is a family of various nerve disorders caused by diabetes. Risks factors include :

  • The length of time you have had diabetes (25 years or longer)
  • Your age (the older you are the more likely you are to get it)
  • People who have blood glucose problems, high levels of blood fat or high blood pressure.
  • And of course your weight

To better understand Neuropathy in Diabetes

. . . and for those of you who prefer listening to reading, Dr Aaron Vinik M.D., PhD, Professor of Medicine at Eastern Virginia Medical School and Director of Strolit Dibetic Research Institute gives a 6 minute overview of the scope of neuropathy in diabetes.

Factors In The Causes Of Diabetic Neuropathy

The National Diabetic Information Clearinghouse(NDIC) gives this list for causes for Diabetic Neuropathies:

The causes are probably different for different types of diabetic neuropathy. Researchers are studying how prolonged exposure to high blood glucose causes nerve damage. Nerve damage is likely due to a combination of factors:

  • metabolic factors, such as high blood glucose, long duration of diabetes, abnormal blood fat levels, and possibly low levels of insulin
  • neurovascular factors, leading to damage to the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to nerves
  • autoimmune factors that cause inflammation in nerves
  • mechanical injury to nerves, such as carpal tunnel syndrome
  • inherited traits that increase susceptibility to nerve disease
  • lifestyle factors, such as smoking or alcohol use
  • Symptoms of nerve damage may include
  • numbness, tingling, or pain in the toes, feet, legs, hands, arms, and fingers
  • wasting of the muscles of the feet or hands
  • indigestion, nausea, or vomiting
  • diarrhea or constipation
  • dizziness or faintness due to a drop in blood pressure after standing or sitting up
  • problems with urination
  • erectile dysfunction in men or vaginal dryness in women
  • weakness


Diagnosing Neuropathy

Neuropathy is diagnosed based on a number of symptoms during your regular physical exam at the doctor’s office. Among the indicators are your blood pressure readings, heart rate, reflexes, temperature and muscle strength.

If there are question in diagnosing, tests your doctor may run are:

  • ElectromyographyA check of the transmission of electrical current through a nerve to show how well muscles respond to electrical signals. These tests are rarely needed to diagnose neuropathy.
  • Heart rate variability Check
  • Ultrasound toshow how these organs preserve a normal structure

To better understand what is going on, listen to this short 2 min video about the nerves and diabetes.

Beware of Complacency

Because diabetes is so common in today's society and neuopathy a normal affect of it, many get lax in their care of it. Diabetes is a terrible disease, and requires your diligence in managing it.

Monitoring blood sugars, blood pressure and weight is important. Be consistent in going to the doctor for check-ups. Watch for signs of neuropathy throughout the body, and understand nerve damage can happen in other places than just the feet. Be aware that depression is also an effect of diabetes and take steps to deal with it when it comes.

Laugh a lot. And work to maintain a positive attitude.

Remember:you are in charge.

Symptoms that are not due to neuropathy, but often accompany it, include weight loss and depression.

Impressive research data has been submitted showing promise for relief from foot neuopathy with no side effects or interference with medical treatment of your diabetes has been published by Michael Weintraub (New York Medical College Department of Neurology and Medicine, and lead academic in the study) in the American Journal of Pain Management in January 1999.

You can read more about it at this Hub: Important Study For Those With Diabetic Foot Neuropathy


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    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 7 years ago from United States

      This is a very good informative hub for diabetics. Nice job.

    • HealthyHanna profile image

      HealthyHanna 7 years ago from Utah


      Yes, I did know there are other reasons for neuropathy. I was surprised that there were so many other forms. I am glad you are writing a hub on your personal perspective. I would like to link to it if you don't mind.

      I also hope you look at the hub Important Study For Those With Diabetic Foot Neuropathy.


    • humagaia profile image

      Charles Fox 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I know what the doctors say but neuropathy is not just a factor of long-term diabetes. I have neuropathies of the feet, calf muscles, thigh muscles, lower pelvis, lower back, intestines, shoulders, forearms, hands, wrists and worst of all the brain. This was not caused by prolonged diabetes, I know because I was only diagnosed 18 months ago and had been tested 6 months previously. It can be caused by an extreme condition of sudden-onset diabetes where the blood-glucose level rises rapidly and basically starves the nerve cells of oxygen, thus killing them.

      Please note that this condition is progressive and irreversible, to date.

      Do not be complacent, it could happen to you, tomorrow.

      Good Hub - I will be creating a Hub on this subject from a personal pespective, shortly - I know you won't mind.