Understanding Diabetic Neuropathy and Common Symptoms

Source: Mayo Clinic

Over time, your diabetes can cause nerve damage that can lead to neuropathy. The increased and uncontrollable levels of glucose (sugar) cause the neuropathy. Commonly, affecting the nerves in your arms, hands, legs or feet for some even problems are seen in the digestive system, heart, blood vessels, and urinary tract. Pain, tingling, numbness, disabling, and even death are some complications of diabetic neuropathy. Often, diabetic neuropathy develops gradually and signs and symptoms may not appear until major damage as occurred to your nerves. The neuropathy can often be prevented if glucose levels are under control along with maintaining a healthy diet and exercise. The four common types of diabetic neuropathy include:

Peripheral Neuropathy

The common form of diabetic neuropathy is first seen in toes, feet, and legs and then in hands and arms. The signs and symptoms such as pain, tingling, burning sensation, cramps, numbness, or reduced feeling to pain and temperature are often heightened at night. Peripheral neuropathy also presents with muscle weakness, loss of reflexes, and increased sensitivity to touch, loss of balance, coordination. It may also show ulcers, infections, deformities, bone and joint pain in the foot.

Autonomic Neuropathy

In this neuropathy, you will notice neural changes in your autonomic system that controls your digestion, bowel, heart, bladder, lungs, eyes, and sex organs. The signs and symptoms you should look for are hypoglycemia unawareness, difficulty swallowing, erectile dysfunction in men, urinary tract infections, urinary incontinence or retention. Other changes to notice include a change in perspiration, vaginal dryness, sexual difficulties in women, issues regulating body temperature, unable to regulate blood pressure and heart rate, increased heart rate while resting, and the ability for your eyes to adjust from light to dark. A few other issues are constipation, uncontrollable diarrhea, and the slow emptying of the stomach.

Radiculoplexus Neuropathy

This neuropathy is also known as diabetic amyotrophy, proximal, and femoral neuropathy that damages the nerves to the hips, thighs, gluts, or legs. This neuropathy is often seen in type 2 diabetics and older adults with diabetes. The signs and symptoms are often seen unilaterally, on one side of the body, and often worsen before you see any relief. Radiculoplexus neuropathy presents with abdominal swelling, weight loss, weak, atrophied thigh muscles and difficulty standing from a sitting position. You will also notice sudden, severe pain in hip, thigh, or gluts.


Mononeuropathy is also referred to focal neuropathy that affects a particular nerve often in the head, torso, or leg. Usually occurs in older adults with diabetes, comes on suddenly without causing much long-term issues, and lasts for a few weeks to months. This neuropathy causes inability to focus on your eyes, double vision, aching behind one eye, or paralysis unilaterally known as Bell’s palsy. You may also notice pain in your lower back, pelvis, shin, foot, chest, abdomen, or front of the thigh.