Peripheral neuropathy is a term that refers to temporary or permanent damage to the peripheral nerves—the nerves that carry information to and from the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. This damage is one of the most common complications of diabetes. Find out more about peripheral neuropathy by taking this quiz.
Symptoms are often worse at night. Peripheral neuropathy affects the peripheries of the body. These are the toes, feet, legs, hands, and arms, the NIDDK says. Symptoms include:
Treatment focuses on controlling blood sugar. Bringing blood sugar under control helps prevent further nerve damage. This may be accomplished by better meal planning, exercise, medicine, and monitoring blood sugar and A1c levels. Symptoms may worsen at first, but then ease as normal blood sugar levels are maintained, the NIDDK says. If pain is a problem, your healthcare provider also may prescribe a pain reliever or other medicines that treat pain. Your provider can also help with problems related to digestion, urinary and sexual functions, and dizziness.
Pay special attention to areas of your body affected by neuropathy. If your feet and legs are affected, you should check those areas every day for wounds or sores or other problems. Call your healthcare provider if you develop an open sore or have any injury to your arm, legs, fingers, or toes.
Francesca Torriani, MD
Medical Director, Infection Prevention and Clinical Epidemiology
UC San Diego | School of Medicine