Diabetic Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


People with diabetes can develop nerve damage over time, a condition known as diabetic neuropathy. The chances of developing such damage increase with age and the duration of the diabetes, particularly after 25 years.


Diabetic neuropathy can affect any nerves and therefore potentially impact all bodily systems and organs. Although some people may experience no symptoms, there are many associated with the condition including pain, feelings of tingling, burning or numbness, muscle weakness, wastage or contractions, diarrhoea and incontinence, changes affecting the eyesight, erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness, speech impairment and difficulty swallowing. Any of these symptoms may also be accompanied by depression and weightloss.


Peripheral neuropathy (also known as distal symmetric neuropathy or sensorimotor neuropathy) is the most common manifestation of the condition and affects the arms, hands, legs feet and toes. The feet are particularly susceptible and problems can be exacerbated by poor circulation. If left untreated, the patient can suffer wounds, sores and in very extreme cases amputation becomes necessary.


A key measure in improving diabetic neuropathy is controlling blood glucose levels, which is vital to controlling the diabetes as a whole. Antidepressants may also be prescribed, not only in cases of actual depression, but primarily to provide pain relief. Topical medications such as cream and patches may be used to help with skin-related issues and other foot problems.

Diabetic socks can be very useful in easing the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, especially in the feet, improving circulation and protecting the affected area. A variety of styles and colours are available, with white a popular choice as it provides a quick visual alert of leaking wounds, a significant consideration in regard to nerve damage as the sufferer may have little or no feeling in the area. Specialist medical advice should be sought when selecting diabetic socks to ensure the greatest benefits will be received.