What is Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy?

By Donna Ziegler, PT

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN)

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) is a neurological disorder where the peripheral nerves receive damage from diabetes. The nerve damage can cause a number of symptoms, including pain, loss of sensation, and tingling in the feet and hands.

Diagnosis of DPN

When diagnosing DPN typically a foot and ankle surgeon will obtain your history of symptoms, and performs a simple in-office evaluation of the feet and legs. This may also include an assessment of reflexes, ability to feel light touch as well as vibration. In some cases, the order of additional neurological tests may occur.


Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy


Treatment of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

The treatment of DPN focuses on controlling your blood sugar level . Also, various options can be used to treat the symptoms. Medications are available to relieve specific symptoms, such as tingling or burning. Sometimes a combination of different medications is used, and, in some cases, you will undergo physical therapy to help reduce balance problems or other symptoms.

Common Affected Nerve Groups

Below are the common nerve groups affected by DPN and the corresponding signs and symptoms:

It’s up to you! You play a vital role in minimizing the risk of developing diabetic peripheral neuropathy and preventing possible consequences. Some important measures may include:

  • Keep your blood sugar level under control
  • Wear well-fitting shows to avoid getting sores
  • 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
  • Visit your foot and ankle surgeon on a regular basis for an examination. This may help prevent the foot complications caused by diabetes.
  • Have periodic visits with your primary care physician or endocrinologist.

Nerve Groups Function Sign & Symptoms Sensory 

Nerve Groups Function Sign & Symptoms Sensory Enables you to:

  • Feel Pain
  • Temperature
  • Numbness or Tingling in the Feet
  • Pain or Discomfort in the Feet or Legs,
  • Burning Feet
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Loss of Muscle Tone in the Feet and Lower Legs
  • Loss of Balance
  • Changes in Foot Shape that can lead to areas of increased pressure

It’s a Team Effort

Your foot and ankle surgeon works together with your primary care physician and other providers to prevent and treat complications from diabetes. There are wonderful resources for you and your family to help people with diabetes, including studies related to diabetic neuropathy.

By: Donna Ziegler, PT

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Related Articles: Diabetic Foot Care, Tingling in the Foot, Orthopaedic Problems and Obesity

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