Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy



Nerve damage caused by diabetes is called diabetic neuropathy. When it spreads to your arms, legs and feet it’s called diabetic peripheral neuropathy. This is different from peripheral arterial disease (PAD) which is poor circulation that affects the blood vessels rather than the nerves.

There are three different groups of nerves that can be affected by diabetic neuropathy:
- Sensory nerves - these enable you to feel pain, changes in temperature, and other sensations
- Motor nerves - which control your muscles
- Autonomic nerves - which allows your body to perform certain involuntary functions, such as sweating

For sensory neuropathy:
- Your feet may experience numbness or tingling in your feet
- You may also feel sharp pain and burning sensations in your feet

For motor neuropathy:
- You may experience muscle weakness and loss of muscle tone in your feet and lower legs
- Changes in the shape of your foot
- Trouble balancing

For autonomic neuropathy:
- Dry or cracked skin on your feet

Treatment for diabetic peripheral neuropathy starts with you. Your doctor may prescribe medications help relieve specific symptoms, such as tingling or burning.
- Some important preventive measures include:
- Keep your blood sugar (glucose) levels under control.
- Wear appropriate footwear.
- Inspect your feet every day. If you notice any cuts, redness, blisters, or swelling, see your foot and ankle surgeon right away. This can prevent problems from becoming worse.

For more preventative tips, see our diabetic foot care guidelines.