Diabetic Neuropathy Stages, Types, & Symptoms
Diabetic neuropathy is a condition in which nerves in the arms, hands, legs, feet, and other regions of the body are damaged by chronic, uncontrolled diabetes. Healthy nerves serve several important functions throughout the body, providing signaling to and from the brain that enables our five senses, allows us to control the movement of our muscles, and also manages automated bodily functions that we often take for granted, like respiration, digestion, and sweating.
Because our nerves are many and varied, nerve damage from diabetic neuropathy can lead to several distinct symptoms and affect various parts of the body (type of diabetic neuropathy). While numbness and pain in the extremities, especially in the feet, are among the most common diabetic neuropathy symptoms, several other symptoms can occur.
To help you better understand diabetic neuropathy, specialist Dr. Michael Lalezarian and the diabetic neuropathy team at ProVascularMD explain the common types of diabetic neuropathy, the many different diabetic neuropathy symptoms and why they occur, and the stages of diabetic neuropathy.
If you’re ready to see a specialist, we are accepting new diabetic neuropathy patients at ProVascularMD in the greater Los Angeles area.
Diabetic Neuropathy Specialist
Dr. Michael Lalezarian
“I was referred to Dr. Lalezarian from my orthopedic surgeon for varicose vein treatment options. From the second I walked into the office, I was at ease and felt very welcomed from Kimberly and the staff. Upon meeting the doctor, he was so kind and fully explained my options after the initial ultrasound on both legs. I decided to go with the sclerotherapy and am so happy that I did. The procedures were quick and virtually painless but the results are life changing for me. The pain suffered for so many years and countless sleepless nights are a thing of the past.”
Vickie W, March 2022
Types of Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic Focal Neuropathy
Diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN) describes when diabetic neuropathy affects multiple peripheral nerves. The peripheral nerves branch from the spinal cord into the arms, hands, legs, and feet, and are responsible for both sensation and muscle movement, among other more subtle functions. Individuals with diabetic polyneuropathy experience symptoms in multiple extremities simultaneously. The longest nerves are typically affected the most, which is why symptoms usually start in the feet.
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy
Diabetic Proximal Neuropathy
Diabetic Autonomic Neuropathy
Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms
Nerves serve many critical roles in our bodies, from basic sensation to muscle control and autonomic functions. It follows that nerve damage can produce many different symptoms, especially as diabetic neuropathy progresses. To ease understanding, we find it helpful to categorize diabetic neuropathy symptoms by which types of nerves are affected.
Sensory Neuropathy Symptoms
The most common diabetic neuropathy symptoms include numbness or tingling in the toes or feet, prickly or sharp pain, burning, pinching, pins and needles, or an exaggerated sensitivity to touch. Over time, the hands may be affected, as well as the legs and the arms. Some individuals with sensory nerve damage are also unable to feel pain, temperature changes, or changes in pressure, or these sensations are dulled due to nerve damage.
If your diabetic neuropathy is affecting your sensory nerves, you may experience any of the following symptoms:
- Exaggerated sensitivity to touch
- Burning or shooting pain
- Prickly or sharp pain
- Pinching sensation
- Pins and needles
- Tingling and numbness
- Loss of ability to feel pain
- Loss of ability to feel changes in temperature
- Loss of ability to feel changes in pressure
Motor Neuropathy Symptoms
- Muscle weakness
- Muscle wasting (loss of muscle tone)
- Loss of balance
- Loss of coordination (unable to the feel the position of your joins)
- Difficulty with fine motor control, such as fastening buttons
- Changes to the shape and structure of the feet
- Pressure points on the feet
Autonomic Neuropathy Symptoms
- Hypoglycemia unawareness (inability to tell when blood sugar levels are low)
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Loss of bladder control (urinary incontinence) or urinary retention (trouble emptying bladder)
- Constipation or uncontrolled diarrhea
- Slow stomach emptying (gastroparesis) leading to nausea, vomiting, sensation of fullness, and loss of appetite
- Difficulty swallowing
- Erectile dysfunction in men
- Vaginal dryness and other sexual difficulties in women
- Increased or decreased sweating
- Drops in blood pressure when rising from sitting or lying down that may cause feelings of lightheadedness or fainting
- Irregular heart beats
Stages of Diabetic Neuropathy
Stage 1: Intermittent Numbness and Pain
Stage 2: Persistent Numbness and Pain
Stage 3: Debilitating Pain
Stage 4: Complete Numbness and Loss of feeling
Painful Diabetic Neuropathy
Spinal Cord Stimulator for Diabetic Neuropathy
Diabetic Neuropathy Specialist in Los Angeles
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