Diabetes Neuropathy

Diabetes neuropathy or nerve damage is the most common complication of diabetes. Elevated blood glucose levels over a long period of time can lead to many diabetes complications including neuropathy. The most common type of nervous system injury is to the nerves of the feet and damage to the nerves supplying the extremities of the body is known as peripheral neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy causes pain or loss of feelings in the toes and feet and can occur in anyone who has had diabetes for several years. The symptoms usually start with the toes and may gradually spread to the foot and leg and perhaps up to the knee. The condition may affect a small part of one foot, parts of both feet or all of both feet.

Initially the sypmtoms may feel like an occasional tingling and electrical shock. This may progress to a persistent tingling and burning sensation. With further damage, this can progress to numbness which can be so severe that you become insensitive to temperature and pain.


An examination should be performed at least once a year to identify whether the feet are affect by neuropathy. Your feet should be examined for the following:

  • Areas of altered sensation
  • Reddened or off-color areas
  • Very dry skin
  • Hardened calloused skin
  • Abnormal warmth
  • Wound or open sores or diabetic blisters
  • Any deformities or change in the shape of the feet

Your doctor can tell whether parts of your feet have reduced feeling using various types of instrument such as a nylon filament called a monofilament of a vibration tuning fork. These devices are used to touch different areas of your feet and you are asked whether you are able to feel each touch to identify if any areas of the feet have reduced feeling.

African Americans and Diabetic Neuropathy

Diabetic Neuropathy puts you at risk for foot injury, infection, and amputation. African Americans are 2.7 times more likely to suffer from lower-limb amputations. Proper diabetes foot care must become a higher priority to reduce the high incidence of amputations in the African American community.

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