The Signs & Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy

When it comes to diabetic neuropathy, there are actually four primary categories. You may experience the signs of just one or several at a given time. Most cases of diabetic neuropathy develop quite gradually, and patients probably won’t notice any of the symptoms until after the nerves have suffered significant damage.

The symptoms associated with this disease will vary based on the type of neuropathy (peripheral neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, radiculoplexus neuropathy, or mononeuropathy) and the nerves which are primarily affected. People who are diagnosed with this disease are often encouraged to enroll in a diabetic neuropathy clinical trial, since there is still no cure.

Peripheral Neuropathy

This is actually the most common type of diabetic neuropathy. The nerves in the patient’s legs and feet are attacked first, followed by their arms and hands. All of the following are symptoms which have been associated with peripheral neuropathy:

  • Not able to feel changes in the weather or pain which is followed by numbness in the affected area
  • Burning or tingling sensation
  • Experiencing unusual pain during a walk
  • Extremely sensitive level of pain in the area – could hurt just to be touched
  • Difficulty walking and weak muscles
  • Sharp, stabbing pain that can become worse during the night
  • Complications in the feet, including ulcers, joint pain, infections, and even deformities

Autonomic Neuropathy

The human autonomic nervous system helps to control the actions of the vital organs like the lungs, heart, intestines, sex organs, and eyes. If your disease begins to attack the nerves in any of these areas, then it could cause any of the following indications:

  • Bladder problems such as frequent urinary tract infections and urinary incontinence
  • Blood sugar levels may drop without the patient knowing what is happening (hypoglycemia unawareness)
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Contents of stomach empty out too slowly, which leads to additional nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite
  • Intense episodes of constipation, diarrhea, or even a combination of both
  • Can cause sexual dysfunction in men (erectile dysfunction) and women (vaginal dryness)
  • Changes in how you normally sweat
  • Problems regulating body temperature
  • Elevated heart rate while at rest
  • The body may not be able to adequately adjust heart rate or blood pressure, which can cause someone to suddenly feel lightheaded or even faint upon standing
  • Changes in how the irises adjust from light to dark

Radiculoplexus Neuropathy (Diabetic Amyotrophy)

Radiculoplexus neuropathy attacks the nerves located in the patient’s legs, hips, thighs, and buttocks. This disease is also referred to as femoral neuropathy, proximal neuropathy, or diabetic amyotrophy, and it tends to be quite common amongst people who are living with type 2 diabetes. The symptoms of this disease usually manifest on one side of the body, but they can still spread to both sides as the disease progresses. Over time, most patients do see significant improvement in their symptoms, despite fluctuations in severity along the way. Any of the following could be an indication of radiculoplexus neuropathy:

  • Weight loss
  • Sharp pain in the hip, thigh, or buttock
  • Problems standing after sitting down
  • If the abdomen is affected, then the disease can cause swelling

Mononeuropathy

This type of diabetic neuropathy attacks a single nerve. This nerve could be located anywhere in the torso, legs, or even the face of the patient. The symptoms of mononeuropathy tend to manifest very quickly, and it is most often diagnosed in older adults. Even though this disease can cause debilitating pain, most patients will not suffer any long-term complications. In fact, the symptoms will probably disperse on their own after several weeks or months. As with other types of diabetic neuropathy, symptoms of mononeuropathy depend on which nerve is affected. So, any of the following could be an indication of this disease:

  • Paralysis on one side of the face (Bell’s palsy)
  • Pain in the shin or foot
  • Pain in the front of the thigh
  • Abdominal or chest pain
  • Problems focusing the eyes or double vision (mononeuropathy can also cause a dull ache behind the eye)

Please review this entire list carefully, and notify your doctor right away if you believe that you are experiencing any indications of diabetic neuropathy. When left untreated or unmanaged, diabetic neuropathy could cause some serious damage.

Clinical Trial Indications