Diabetic neuropathies are a group of nerve disorders caused by diabetes. They include sensory neuropathy (nerves detecting touch and temperature), motor neuropathy (nerves affecting muscle movement) and autonomic neuropathy (nerves controlling involuntary actions, such as digestion or heart rate).
Neuropathies are most common in diabetics with poor control of the condition, and in patients with high levels of blood fat and blood pressure. Common symptoms include numbness, tingling and pain and the risk of developing neuropathies increases the longer a patient has diabetes. Other symptoms may include muscle wastage, indigestion, constipation and urinary problems, impotence, dizziness and weakness of limbs.
Treatment of diabetic neuropathy focuses on: slowing the further progression of the disease; easing symptoms and pain; and managing or restoring compromised functions. Patients are usually advised to make lifestyle changes, including eating healthily, keeping blood pressure under control, maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding alcohol and smoking.
A prescription of anti-seizure medication may alleviate nerve pain, while anti-depressants have also been used to provide relief for milder symptoms. Commonly prescribed drug classes used to treat diabetic neuropathies include serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SNRIs), neuropathic pain and peripheral neuropathy agents and medical foods.