Diabetes that cause harm to the nerves is called neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy is a common serious complication of diabetes. It occurs as a result of high elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Diabetic neuropathy can affect different parts of the body but most often damages nerves in the legs and feet. Symptoms can range from mild/moderate to severe. Treatment options for diabetic neuropathy can help prevent its progress and control blood sugar levels and other symptoms it may arise.



There are four main types of diabetic neuropathy and signs and symptoms vary depending on the type and which nerves are affected.

Peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy. Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Severe pain in the legs, arms
  • Numbness
  • Increased sensitivity to touch
  • Muscle weakness
  • Unsteadiness
  • Ulcers
  • Infections and deformities of the foot


Autonomic neuropathy controls the heart, bladder, lungs, stomach, intestines, sex organs and eyes. Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Low blood sugar levels
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Inability to eat
  • Sickness and vomiting
  • Erectile dysfunction in men
  • Urinary infections
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Increased or decreased sweating
  • Increased heart rate


Radiculoplexus neuropathy affects nerves in the thighs, hips, buttocks or legs. Signs and symptoms include:

  • Severe pain in the hip and thigh or buttock
  • Pain on one side of the body
  • Weakened thigh muscles
  • Difficulty standing up
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Weight loss


Mononeuropathy involves damage to a specific nerve. The nerve may be in the face, torso or leg. Signs and symptoms depend on which nerve is involved and may include:

  • Pain in the shin or foot
  • Pain in the lower back or pelvis
  • Pain in the front of the thing
  • Stomach pain
  • Paralysis on one side of the face
  • Blurred or double vision



Causes for diabetic neuropathy can be associated with exposure to high glucose and lipid (fat) levels in the blood and toxic byproducts they generate through their metabolism. Other factors that may contribute to diabetic neuropathy include:

  • Inflammation in the nerves caused by an autoimmune response
  • Genetic factors 
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol abuse


Risk factors

Factors associated with an increased risk of diabetic neuropathy include the following:

  • Smoking
  • Poor control of blood glucose levels
  • Age over 40
  • High blood pressure
  • Kidney disease
  • Obesity



Though there is no cure for diabetic neuropathy, possible treatments that can help ease symptoms and slow progression of the disease may include:

  • Taking proper care of foot and nail hygiene
  • Wearing proper foot attire
  • Avoiding activities that may injure the feet
  • Getting regular foot examinations
  • Keeping blood pressure under control
  • Taking anti-seizure medications and antidepressants
  • Treating urinary infections if they occur



Preventing diabetic neuropathy is similar to ways of treating it. A few recommendations for preventing this condition may include:

  • Quitting smoking
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Maintaining healthy blood glucose levels
  • Controlling and lowering blood pressure
  • Getting regular foot examinations