Diabetic neuropathy is the most common complication of diabetes. Neuropathy refers to nerve damage caused by high blood sugar, and that damage can take several different forms.
The most common types of neuropathy are peripheral and autonomic neuropathy, and they can each manifest in different parts of the body. Peripheral neuropathy most often affects the feet and legs, but can also affect the arms, hands, back, or abdomen. Autonomic neuropathy causes trouble with the body’s automatic processes such as digestion, respiration, and even bladder control. But not all types of neuropathy fall into these two categories.
Here’s a look at the 3 lesser-known types of diabetic neuropathy:
Mononeuropathy describes a type of neuropathy that affects only a single nerve or group of nerves. It affects only the part of the body where the nerve damage occurs, but may occur on any part of the body. The affected area will experience loss of feeling, compromised movement, or loss of function.
Types of mononeuropathy include:
- Axillary nerve dysfunction (loss of sensation/movement in the shoulder area)
- Carpal tunnel syndrome (affecting the main nerve of the hand)
- Common peroneal nerve dysfunction (leading to loss of movement/sensation in the foot and leg)
- Cranial neuropathy (affecting the brain and brain stem)
- Femoral neuropathy (loss of sensation or movement in the foot and leg)
- Radial nerve or ulnar nerve dysfunction (damaging the wrist and fingers)
- Unilateral foot drop (inability to lift the front part of the foot on one side)
- Sciatic nerve dysfunction (sciatic nerve is located in the buttocks; dysfunction may cause pain in spine or leg)
- Thoracic/lumbar radiculopathy (compression of a nerve in the thoracic or lumbar spine)
Treatment for mononeuropathy depends on the severity of the damage. Treatment may include corticosteroids to relieve swelling, pain medication, physical therapy, or devices such as braces or splints. Surgery may be appropriate in extreme cases.
2. Diabetic Radiculoplexus Neuropathy (DRN)
Also called diabetic amyotrophy or diabetic polyradiculoneuropathy, DRN is most common is men with type 2 diabetes. It involves intense pain on the outside of one thigh as well as weight loss and weakness in the affected area.
The condition does resolve on its own, but gradually and generally with some remaining weakness. This condition is not fully understand and is undergoing further study.
3. Diabetic treatment-induced neuropathy (TIND)
This rare condition is also not yet fully understood. TIND is a form of autonomic neuropathy that manifests after a sudden drop in blood sugar after a long history of chronic high blood sugar. TIND can happen in those with type 1 or type 2 diabetes after they are treated with insulin, oral medication, or severe dietary restriction. TIND is also called “insulin neuritis” and is an iatrogenic, or treatment-induced, disorder.
The condition involves pain, usually burning or shooting and increased sensitivity to touch and pain.
We hope that you will never experience any of these types of neuropathy, but talk to your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms. Stay healthy, friends!
Katie Taylor started writing in 5th grade and hasn't stopped since. Her favorite place to pen a phrase is in front of her fireplace with a cup of tea, but she's been known to write in parking lots on the backs of old receipts if necessary. She and her husband live cozily in the Pacific Northwest enjoying rainy days and Netflix.