The Basics of Diabetes Neuropathy

by Mark Benson on May 14, 2012

Neuropathy in diabetes patients

Diabetes neuropathy is the condition wherein the nerves on the extremities of the body are damaged resulting in improper function. The most affected nerves are those of the ganglia, the skull’s outer region, the spinal cord and other nerves that play a crucial role in the proper functioning of major organs such as the heart, bladder, stomach and intestines.

This kind of condition affects only those suffering from the metabolic condition known as diabetes. This is characterized by high blood glucose levels due to the inability of the body to produce or the body rejects the produced hormone insulin from the pancreas. Because of the higher viscosity and the presence of sugar crystals in the blood stream, fine nerve endings do not receive the oxygenated blood for their purposes. If they do receive blood, the nerve cells are unable to process the glucose because of the absence or low levels of insulin. This results in cells being damaged and eventually dying out, resulting in major complications in the body.

There are many conditions often related to diabetic neuropathy, which are as follows:

  1. Third Nerve Palsy. This is the inability to normally move the eye because of the sustained damage to the cranial nerve;
  2. Mononeuropathy. This can happen anywhere in the body, when a single nerve becomes physically compressed, resulting in cutting off the blood supply;
  3. Amythrophy. This is a result of nerve damage to muscles, resulting in progressive weakening and wastage of muscle tissue because of lack of movement;
  4. Mononeuropathy multiplex. This is a general aching soreness often in the lower back, hips or legs resulting from loss of sensory functioning;
  5. Polyneuropathy. This is a result of the degenerative weakening of the hands and feet from nerve damage. This manifests itself as burning needle like pain in the extremities or when the and or feet loses any pain sensation completely;
  6. Autonomic neuropathy. This condition affects the visceral nerve, resulting in impact to the heart, stomach and other automatic bodily functions. Oftentimes, individuals suffer dizziness or fainting spells when suddenly standing up;
  7. Sensory motor neuropathy. This affects the sensory nerve especially the facial muscles and may spread to the upper arms;

Recent studies have indicated that nearly half of all diabetics would be developing one form of neuropathy or another. Because diabetes is a slow metabolic condition, the signs of the development of such neuropathy would not present itself until a decade or two after being diagnosed with the metabolic condition. The sad thing is, many diabetics would not find out they are suffering from this complication until such time that the nerve damage has become too severe or permanent in nature.

The following are but some of the physical symptoms and signs of the development of diabetic neuropathy in an individual suffering from this metabolic condition:

  • Electricity like pain, numbness, tingling or burning sensation from the extremities traveling up to the legs or arms;
  • Heartburn or sensation of bloatedness;
  • Nausea, diarrhea or constipation;
  • Throat problems such as problems swallowing;
  • Stomach issues such as feeling full after a small meal or throwing up hours after a meal was taken;
  • Orthostatic Hypotension or feeling lightheaded and dizzy when standing up;
  • Higher heart rate compared to normal and many other physical symptoms.

When feeling any of these signs and symptoms, it would be best to seek medical attention to rule out the possibility of suffering from diabetes and its pernicious complication, diabetes neuropathy.


The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the DiabetesForum.com Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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