Diabetes Tips: 10 Symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy

Whether you have Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes, diabetic peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) is a potential complication that you may experience. It's important to understand the signs and symptoms of this type of nerve damage in order to take steps to slow its progression and treat the disease effectively.

In fact, upwards of 70% of people with diabetes will develop some form of nerve damage, although many know nothing about the disease. So, it's important to know the potential warning signs and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy.

What is peripheral neuropathy?

You can read more about peripheral neuropathy here, but in short, peripheral neuropathy is nerve damage that is typically found in the fingers, toes, hands, feet, and legs. It can be inherited or acquired through a variety of ways, so it's important to talk to your care team and doctor about your specific risk categories.


Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy

While symptoms and severity may vary from person-to-person, below are some of the symptoms you may experience in your toes, feet, legs, arms, hands, and fingers:

  1. Numbness and Tingling: You may experience feelings of "pins and needles. These can occur continuously or at periodic times.
  2. Loss of Sensation: The total or partial loss of sensation in your toes, fingers, or other extremities. The inability to feel anything when touched.
  3. Pain: Pain type and severity may vary from person to person.
  4. Hypersensitivity: You may experience hypersensitivity to the touch where even the smallest touch or bed sheets may cause an increased sensation.
  5. Burning: Burning pain throughout the skin area may occur, especially at night.
  6. Loss of Balance: Problems with stability is a common complication of peripheral neuropathy.
  7. Muscle Weakness: You may experience the loss of reflexes due to muscle weakness in the affected areas.
  8. Foot Deformity: Hammertoes, are frequently seen in people with peripheral neuropathy. This often happens due to instability and loss of feeling.
  9. Exaggerated Sensations of Hot and Cold: For some, there may be the intense feeling of heat or cold when they are only lightly touched by hot or cool liquids or items.
  10. Foot Ulcers: Small injuries like a cut can quickly develop into foot ulcers. Many people with neuropathy aren't diagnosed until there's been a severe complication like an ulcer which can lead to infection and lower leg amputation.

However, please keep in mind that some people experience no symptoms whatsoever. So, it's important to see your care team and determine whether or not you have peripheral neuropathy and what complications you may experience.

Diagnosis of Peripheral Neuropathy

Please talk to your healthcare professional to see if you may be at risk of neuropathy. Common tests for neuropathy include microfilament tests, nerve conduction studies, and autonomic testing.

If you are currently experiencing any of the above symptoms, please contact your care team to get tested for peripheral neuropathy.

Neuropathy, Foot Ulcers and Amputations

When you have diabetic peripheral neuropathy, one of the most costly and devastating problems is foot ulcers and amputations. Foot ulcers and amputations occur because over time neuropathy results in the body's inability to feel pain or injury. So, in your feet you may not feel a small nick or cut, and be unable to feel a pebble in your shoe. When this happens and you experience a small injury, it may go unnoticed become infected and gangrene. This can then result in a foot ulcer or event amputation.

Additional Peripheral Neuropathy Resources


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