What Is Diabetic Neuropathy? Its Symptoms And Treatment Guidelines

Diabetic neuropathy is a commonly seen complication of diabetes mellitus, and is characterized by impairment to the nerves permitting you to feel sensations such as pain. Damage to the nerves usually occurs when the blood sugar level becomes too high for a protracted period of time. Diabetes-related nerve impairment can be painful; however, it is not excruciating pain in most cases.

Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that occurs due to elevated levels of blood sugar; which impair the nerve fibers throughout the body. By and large, the nerves in your legs and feet tend to get impaired the most.

Depending up on the nerves that get damaged, the clinical manifestations of diabetic neuropathy ranges from pain and tingling numbness to GI system, urinary tract, and cardiac disorders.

Symptoms Of Diabetic Neuropathy

Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy tend to differ, depending up on the type of neuropathy and which nerves have been damaged.

Peripheral neuropathy

  • Peripheral neuropathy is the commonest form. The legs and feet get affected first, followed by arms and hands. The symptoms are – tingling numbness or diminished ability to sense pain or temperature changes; burning sensation, pain that gets aggravated at night, excessive sensitivity at the slightest of touches, muscle weakness and difficulty whilst walking, joint pain and ulcerations.

Autonomic neuropathy

  • The autonomic nervous system controls the lungs, heart, stomach, intestines, bladder, sex organs and eyes. Symptoms include: lack of awareness that serum glucose levels are low, urinary tract infections, increased frequency of urination and urinary incontinence, constipation alternating with diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, appetite loss, vaginal dryness in women, erectile dysfunction in men, incapability to adjust blood pressure and heart rate, faintness, changes in the way your eyes adjust from light to dark.

Radiculoplexus neuropathy

  • Radiculoplexus neuropathy afflicts the nerves in the hips, thighs, buttocks or legs. Symptoms usually occur on one side of the body, although in some people it may extend to the other side as well. Commonly seen symptoms are: sudden, relentless pain in the buttock or thigh, weakness of the muscles of the thighs, cannot get up from sitting position, and weight loss.


  • Mononeuropathy involves impairment of one particular nerve. Clinical manifestations include: difficulty in focusing the eyes, aching behind one eye, diplopia, paralysis on one side of the face, and pain in the abdomen or thigh.

Diabetic Neuropathy Treatment Guidelines

  • It is very vital to maintain normal blood sugar levels to prevent neuropathy. Hence, you must take the advised dose of oral hypoglycemic agents.
  • Follow good foot care.
  • Make sure that your blood pressure remains normal.
  • Adhere to a healthy eating plan. Make healthy food choices. Have small, frequent meals through the day. Consume plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Avoid fried and greasy foods, sweet foods, carbonated drinks, organ meat and refined food products.
  • Maintain an ideal body weight.
  • Exercise on a regular basis. You must stay active and exercise at least thrice a week. However, if you have severe neuropathy with reduced sensation in the legs, your health care provider may advise that you participate in non-weight-bearing activities, such as walking, jogging, bicycling or swimming.
  • Steer clear of alcohol and stop smoking.
  • Occasionally, in extreme cases, to manage the pain, doctors prescribe pain killers along with anti seizure drugs, and anti depressants.