Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage that can occur in people with diabetes. Different types of nerve damage cause different symptoms. Symptoms can range from pain and numbness in your feet to problems with the functions of your internal organs, such as your heart and bladder.
Overtime poorly controlled Diabetes causes damage to the small blood vessels which supply the nerves( the connection to your brain) throughout your body leading to nerve damage and this called neuropathy.
There are three types of neuropathy. They are sensory, autonomic and motor.
Autonomic neuropathy is damage to nerves that control your internal organs, leading to problems with your heart rate and blood pressure, digestive system, bladder, sex organs, sweat glands, and eyes. The damage can also lead to hypoglycemia unawareness.
This affects the nerves which control movement. Damage to these nerves leads to weakness and wasting of the muscles that receive messages from the affected nerves.
This affects the nerves that carry messages of touch, temperature, pain and other sensations from the skin, bones and muscles to the brain. It mainly affects the nerves in the feet and the legs, but people can also develop this type of neuropathy in their arms and hands.
The main danger of sensory neuropathy for someone with diabetes is the loss of feeling in the feet, especially if you don’t realise that this has happened. This is dangerous because you may not notice minor injuries. If ignored, minor injuries may develop into infections or ulcers.
People with diabetes are more likely to be admitted to hospital with a foot ulcer than with any other diabetes complication. Charcot’s joint is a rare complication of people with diabetes who have severe neuropathy. It happens when an injury to the foot causes a broken bone, which may go unnoticed because of the existing neuropathy. The bone then heals abnormally, causing the foot to become deformed and misshapen. Treatment includes immobilizing the foot in a plaster cast and in some cases surgery.
Dr Ryizan Nizar MD MRCP UK
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Sources: https://www.niddk.nih.gov, Diabetes UK