By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
Diabetic neuropathy involves the minor and major nerves of the body. Both the peripheral and autonomic nervous systems may be affected. The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy depend on the type of nerves that are affected. In some people, there may be no symptoms of neuropathy at all until it is well advanced.
Types of neuropathy
Peripheral diabetic neuropathy primarily affects the nerve endings in the hands and feet.
Autonomic neuropathy affects the autonomic nervous system, causing disorder of the digestive or genitourinary systems, for example.
Proximal neuropathy involves major nerves.
Focal neuropathy involves a specific group of nerves.
Some examples of common symptoms are given below:
Symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include pain, numbness and a tingling or itching sensation across affected areas. These symptoms may be mild and therefore go unnoticed in the initial stages. As the condition develops, however, pain in the affected areas may become more severe.
In both focal and proximal neuropathy, there may be wasting of the muscles supplied by the affected nerves.
Focal neuropathy may affect muscles of the face, eyes, ears, lower back, chest, pelvis, abdomen, legs, thighs, feet, arms, hands and fingers.
There may be drooping of the eyelids, facial muscle changes and vision problems. Some people may have difficulty speaking or swallowing.
Chronic pain in the major nerve groups may lead to symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Autonomic neuropathy may gives rise to the following symptoms:
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc
Last Updated: Nov 3, 2013