Diabetic neuropathy
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Diabetes can affect your walking ability because the excess blood glucose makes it harder for blood to flow and damages the blood vessels that supply the oxygen and nutrients to the nerves. The nerves or tissues can’t function optimally without adequate blood flow. This leads to damage to nerves and their signalling leading to a condition called neuropathy. It can cause toe numbness and various other symptoms depending upon the type of neuropathy.[1],[2]

 Who can get affected by the neuropathy?

Anyone with diabetes can get neuropathy but the risk increases when you have:

  • Diabetes since many years[1]
  • Uncontrolled blood glucose levels[1]
  • Obesity[3]
  • High blood pressure[4]
  • High blood cholesterol levels[4]
  • Kidney disease[4]
  • Smoking habit[4]

Is neuropathy curable? If not, what should be done to prevent it?

There is no known cure for neuropathy but prevention can be done by managing diabetes, taking care of feet, being physically active, following a diabetes meal plan, and quitting smoking.[1],[4],[5]

Table: Types of neuropathy[1]

NameAffected organConsult the physician if you have these symptomsOther aspects
Peripheral NeuropathyLegs and hands
  1.  Numbness, tingling, burning sensation with reduced sensitivity to pain and temperature changes, whereas increased sensitivity to touch
  2. Loss of reflexes, balance and coordination
  3. Foot infections, ulcers, and bone and joint pain
Most common type of neuropathy in people with diabetes. Symptoms are more prominent at night.
Autonomic NeuropathyHeartIncreased heart rate at rest and sudden drop in blood pressure while standing or sitting causing lightheadedness or fainting.One can have difficulty in swallowing, problems in controlling body temperature.

Unawareness about low blood sugar levels.

BladderBladder problems can manifest as urinary retention or incontinence.
GutGut issues can manifest as constipation and/ or uncontrolled diarrhea.

Nausea, vomiting, or decreased appetite.

EyesEyes have difficulty with the adjustment in light and dark.
Sex organsIt involves erectile dysfunction in men, vaginal dryness in women and overall decreased sexual response.
Radiculoplexus NeuropathyLegs, hips, buttocks, and thighs.
  1. Severe pain in a thigh, hip or other affected parts.
  2. Possible abdominal swelling and weight loss.
It is also called diabetic amyotrophy, femoral neuropathy, or proximal neuropathy.

It occurs usually on one side of the body but can radiate to the other side also. It is more common in people with type-2 diabetes and older patients.

MononeuropathySpecific nerves affecting face, middle body, or leg.
  1. Depending upon which nerve is affected, you can have pain in the respective region.
  2. In case face and eyes are affected, you may have double vision, aching behind an eye, and paralysis on one side of the face.
It is also known as focal neuropathy.

The symptoms can occur suddenly and usually affects older people. Symptoms can go away after a few weeks to months without treatment


Staying fit can prevent neuropathy and associated problems and improve the quality of life. 


  1. Mayo Clinic. Diabetic neuropathy: symptoms & causes [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 2]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-neuropathy/symptoms-causes/syc-20371580.
  2. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetes and foot problems [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 2]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/foot-problems.
  3. Smith AG, Singleton JR. Obesity and hyperlipidemia are risk factors for early diabetic neuropathy. J Diabetes Complications. 2013 Sep-Oct;27(5):436-42. DOI: 10.1016/j.jdiacomp.2013.04.003.
  4. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. What is diabetic neuropathy? [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 2]. Available from: https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diabetes/overview/preventing-problems/nerve-damage-diabetic-neuropathies/what-is-diabetic-neuropathy.
  5. Mayo Clinic. Diabetic neuropathy: diagnosis and treatment [Internet]. [cited 2020 Jan 2]. Available from: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/diabetic-neuropathy/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20371587.

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