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 patients with high levels of blood fat and blood pressure. The risk of developing neuropathies increases the longer a person has diabetes. Common symptoms include numbness, tingling and pain. Other symptoms may include muscle wastage, indigestion, constipation and urinary problems, impotence, dizziness and weakness of limbs.
Treatment of diabetic neuropathy focuses on: slowing further progression of the disease; easing symptoms and pain; and managing or restoring compromised functions. Patients are usually advised to eat healthily, keep blood pressure under control, maintain a healthy weight and avoid alcohol and smoking.
Patients may also be prescribed medication by their physician to treat the condition and symptoms. Drug classes commonly used to treat diabetic neuropathy include serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and anti-convulsants, which are used to alleviate nerve pain.