Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic Neuropathy


A progressive disease, diabetic neuropathy refers to the nerve damage caused by diabetes. It is a serious complication that can affect people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Though it can affect any nerve in the body, the usual ones that are vulnerable to diabetic neuropathy are the nerves of ganglia, spinal cord, heart, bladder and stomach as well. There are mainly four types of neuropathy that can develop in people with diabetes:

  1. Peripheral neuropathy: It is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy which affects the hands and feet.
  2. Autonomic neuropathy: It leads to the damage of the nerves that control functions of internal organs like heart, bladder, lungs, stomach and sex organs.
  3. Proximal neuropathy: A rare condition, proximal neuropathy affects hips, buttocks or thighs.
  4. Focal neuropathy: As the name suggests, it damages single nerves in areas like hands, legs or torso.

The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy appear gradually and can vary depending on the nerves that get affected. Some of the common signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Loss of touch sensation
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Excessive sweating
  • Difficulty in maintaining balance while walking
  • Dizziness upon standing
  • Numbness or pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea and indigestion
  • Diarrhea
  • Vaginal dryness (women) and erectile dysfunction (men)

There is no doubt that anyone who has diabetes can develop this condition. However, there are some factors that can increase the chances of diabetic neuropathy. Some of them are listed below:

  • Poor Blood Sugar Control

This is the biggest risk factor that can lead to nerve damage. Hence, it is always recommended that people must keep their blood sugar level in check to avoid health complications.

  • Duration of Diabetes

People who have diabetes for a long time are on higher risk of getting diabetic neuropathy.

  • Kidney Disease

Diabetes can cause damage to the kidneys. This results in an increased level of toxins in the blood which eventually affects the nerves.

  • Obesity

A person whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is higher than 24 has increased chances of developing diabetic neuropathy.

  • Smoking

It is a known fact that smoking narrows and hardens the arteries which can damage the peripheral nerves.


The doctors first conduct a physical exam and ask about the symptoms and medical history. During the physical diagnosis, the doctors check for levels of sensitivity, touch and temperature. They also check heart rate, muscle tone and blood pressure. In case the doctors suspect the presence of diabetic neuropathy, other tests like an Electromyogram (EMG) and Nerve Conduction Velocity Test (NCV) can also be conducted for an accurate result. 

At Max Super Speciality Hospital Shalimar Bagh, department of Diabetes & Metabolic Diseases has a well equipped foot lab which detects early neuropathy by doing tests like biothesiometry (Vibration Perception Threshold (VPT)), Temperature detection & Ankle Brachial Index (ABI).


The treatment may vary as per the type of diabetic neuropathy and its symptoms. However, the first thing doctors aim to achieve is controlling the blood sugar, high blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the patient. Some medications and physical therapies are also recommended to control the pain caused by diabetic neuropathy.


Our Expert Team

Get Second Opinion

Get an expert second opinion from India's leading specialists.