What Are the Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy?
As soon as I posted on Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy, the question was asked about the other types of Diabetic Neuropathy.
The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy depend on the type of neuropathy that affects a person and the nerves being targeted. Common symptoms are known to involve the sensory, motor and autonomic (or involuntary) nervous systems.
However, some people with nerve damage may not manifest symptoms at all, while others may only experience mild symptoms such as numbness, tingling or pain in the feet.
Mild cases may also remain unnoticed for a long period of time because most damage occurs over several years. Other people, typically those with focal neuropathy, can also experience sudden, severe and painful symptoms.
Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms Vary According to the Type of Condition
There are four types of diabetic neuropathy that can affect people, and symptoms are usually specific to the type.2
1.Peripheral neuropathy — Feet and legs are often affected first, followed by hands and arms. Patients with peripheral neuropathy may experience:
◦ Numbness or reduced ability to feel pain or temperature changes
◦ A tingling or burning sensation
◦ Sharp pains or cramps
◦ Increased sensitivity to touch
◦ Muscle weakness
◦ Loss of reflexes, especially in the ankle
◦ Loss of balance and coordination
◦ Serious foot problems such as ulcers, infections, deformities and bone and joint pain
2. Autonomic neuropathy — This form of neuropathy targets the autonomic nervous system responsible for controlling the heart, bladder, lung, stomach, intestines, sex organs and eyes. Symptoms include:
◦ Hypoglycemia unawareness (a lack of awareness that blood sugar levels are low)
◦ Bladder problems including urinary tract infections or urinary retention or incontinence
◦ Constipation, uncontrolled diarrhea or a combination of the two
◦ Gastroparesis (slow stomach emptying), which can cause nausea, vomiting, bloating and appetite loss
◦ Vaginal dryness and other sexual difficulties (women)
◦ Erectile dysfunction (men)
◦ Difficulty swallowing
◦ Increased or decreased sweating
◦ Changes in the way your eyes adjust from light to dark
◦ Problems with body temperature regulation
◦ Increased heart rate during rest
◦ Inability of the body to adjust blood pressure and heart rate, causing sharp drops in blood after sitting or standing and leading to fainting or lightheadedness
3. Radiculoplexus neuropathy — Radiculoplexus neuropathy affects nerves in the thighs, hips, buttocks or legs. This condition is also called diabetic amyotrophy, femoral neuropathy or proximal neuropathy.
Typically, symptoms of radiculoplexus neuropathy are found on one side of the body, but in some cases these can spread to the other side:
◦ Sudden and severe pain in your hip and thigh or buttock
◦ Eventual weak and atrophied thigh muscles
◦ Difficulty rising from a sitting position
◦ Abdominal swelling if the abdomen is affected
◦ Weight loss
Take note that most radiculoplexus neuropathy patients improve at least partially over time, but there are instances when symptoms can worsen before they get better.
4. Mononeuropathy — In this form, there is damage to a specific nerve in the face, torso or leg. Mononeuropathy, also called focal neuropathy, often comes on suddenly. The symptoms of this type of diabetic neuropathy depend on the nerve involved, and can include:
◦ Difficulty focusing your eyes, double vision or aching behind one eye
◦ Paralysis on one side of the face (Bell’s palsy)
◦ Pain in the shin or foot
◦ Pain in the lower back or pelvis
◦ Pain at the front of the thigh
◦ Pain in the chest or abdomen
Mononeuropathy may also occur when a nerve is compressed. Among diabetics, carpal tunnel syndrome is a common type of compression neuropathy.
Patients can experience a numbness or tingling in the fingers or hand (especially in the thumb and/or index, middle and ring fingers), a sense of weakness in the hand and a tendency to drop things.
While mononeuropathy is known to trigger severe pain, this disease doesn’t necessarily cause long-term problems, unless untreated. Symptoms may disappear on their own within a few weeks or months, with proper treatment.
If you notice these symptoms, talk to your doctor immediately to determine the type of diabetic neuropathy that may be affecting you so you can receive proper treatment.