Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of diabetic neuropathy. It occurs when diabetes damages sensory nerves, which allow the brain to respond to sensations like pain, touch, temperature, and vibration. Peripheral neuropathy may also damage the motor nerves, which work with the muscles to control movement.
The effects and symptoms of peripheral neuropathy develop slowly over months or years. The first symptom is usually a slight burning sensation in the affected area. If blood sugar levels remain high over several years, the burning sensation greatly increases and then slowly goes away. It is replaced by a complete lack of feeling and sensation, or numbness, making the person more likely to injure the affected area.
Does the light touch of a bed sheet make your feet burn? Does your heart sometimes race when you’re resting? Do you have problems with sexual arousal?
As different as these symptoms are, they can all have the same cause: diabetic nerve damage, also known as diabetic neuropathy. About half of people with diabetes develop nerve damage. The two most common forms are:
peripheral neuropathy, which affects the nerves that serve the farthest reaches of the body, such as the legs and hands;
Although peripheral neuropathy can develop almost anywhere in the body, it most often affects the feet and legs. Loss of the protective sensation-the reduced ability to feel pain-in the feet may lead to the formation of calluses and blisters, bone and joint problems, infection, and foot ulcers. For instance, small, repetitive injuries to the foot, such as those caused by a poorly fitting shoe, may lead to bigger problems simply because the person is unaware of them. Reduced feeling in the feet can also alter a person's step, leading to bone or joint problems.