Diabetic peripheral neuropathy refers to the damage caused to the peripheral nerves of the extremities, including legs, feet, arms, and hands as a direct result of diabetes. An estimated 60 to 70% of those with diabetes will develop peripheral neuropathy.
It is important to note that the nerves of the peripheral system have unique and specific roles and functions, meaning that symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy often depend on the specific types of nerves affected by the condition.
There are four types of diabetic neuropathy, with diabetic peripheral neuropathy being the most common form. Peripheral neuropathy starts in the feet and legs, the condition may develop in the arms and hands; symptoms of this condition often increase in intensity at night. Symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy often include :
Numbness and decreased sensation to pain and/or temperature changes
Sensations of burning and/or tingling
Severe pains and/or sharp cramping
Increased sensitivity, leading to pain from slight of touch
Muscle weakness and/or paralysis
Slowing, or complete loss, of reflexes - most commonly occurring in the ankle
Loss of balance and coordination
Serious foot problems, including pain, ulcers, and infections
Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is usually diagnosed through a physical exam, an assessment of patient’s symptoms, and a review of a patient’s medical history.
In addition to the physical evaluation, a physician may perform further tests designed to diagnose the condition, these tests might include a filament test, electromyography, nerve conduction studies, and autonomic testing.
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