8 Complications of Diabetic Neuropathy

Source: Mayo Clinic

If glucose (sugar) levels are not under control and managed, diabetic neuropathy can cause serious complications. The common complications of diabetic neuropathy include:

Loss of a limb

The sensory neuropathy causes open wounds or sores to go unnoticed which can later become infected or ulcerated. Ulceration causes the soft tissue and skin to break down. The high blood sugar damages the blood vessels which reduces the blood supply to your feet. If left untreated, infection can spread to bone and gangrene can occur. Gangrene is tissue death which may require amputation to affected toe, foot, or lower leg.

Charcot joint

Charcot joint, also known as neuropathic arthropathy, often damages the nerve in the foot causing loss of function in the joint. Usually, the foot becomes deformed presenting with misalignment, loss of sensation, swelling, instability, and deformity in the joint. Walking can exacerbate pain and worsen the damage. Receiving early treatment can stimulate the healing process and prevent any additional damage.

Urinary dysfunction

The damaged nerves in the bladder are unaware of the pressure buildup caused by the urine filled bladder. This prevents the bladder from completely emptying causing an increase of bacteria, the ability to know when you need to urinate, and the control of the muscles used for urine output. These types of complications will lead to urinary tract infections and incontinence.

Hypoglycemia unawareness

An autonomic neuropathy prevents you from noticing when your blood sugar drops below 70 mg/dL or 3.9 mmol/L. The sign and symptoms you will notice are sweating, palpitations, and shakiness.

Digestive issues

Autonomic neuropathy injures the nerves in the digestive system causing constipation, diarrhea, nausea, bloating, vomiting, and loss of appetite. Gastroparesis can occur preventing the stomach from emptying normally. This can cause high blood glucose levels and nutritional issues.


The heart and blood vessels control your circulation. When these vessels are damaged the body is unable to adjust the heart rate and blood pressure. As a result, you can feel light-headed or faint when standing up from after sitting.

Sexual dysfunction

Autonomic neuropathy decreases the sexual response due to the injured nerves to the sex organs. A man may present with erectile dysfunction and a woman may show difficulty with arousal, lubrication, or orgasm.

Uncontrollable sweating

The autonomic neuropathy disrupts the sweat glands from functioning normally, where the body is unable to regulate its temperature. The damage can cause profuse sweating, especially while eating or during the night.