Neuropathy Types

Submitted by Thiruvelan on Wed, 06/23/2010

Classifications of diabetic neuropathy are peripheral, autonomic, proximal, or focal. Each takes care of different parts of the body in various ways.

Diabetic neuropathy types

  • Peripheral neuropathy (nerves in – toes, feet, legs, hands, arms), the most common type of diabetic neuropathy, causes pain or loss of feeling in the toes, feet, legs, hands, and arms.
  • Autonomic neuropathy (nerves in – heart and blood vessels, digestive system, urinary tract, sex organs, sweat glands, eyes, lungs) causes changes in digestion, bowel and bladder function, sexual response, and perspiration. It can as well affect the nerves that serve the heart and control blood pressure, as well as nerves in the lungs and eyes. Autonomic neuropathy can moreover causes hypoglycemia unawareness, a condition in which people no longer experience the warning symptoms of low blood-glucose levels.
  • Proximal neuropathy (nerves in – thighs, hips, buttocks, legs) causes pain in the thighs, hips, or buttocks and leads to weakness in the legs.
  • Focal neuropathy (eyes, facial muscles, ears, pelvis and lower back, chest, abdomen, thighs, legs and feet) results in the sudden weakness of one nerve or a group of nerves, causing muscle weakness or pain. It can affect any nerve in the body.

Peripheral neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy, otherwise called by distal symmetric neuropathy or sensorimotor neuropathy, is nerve damage in the arms and legs. First, it affects the feet and legs before hands and arms.

Peripheral neuropathy affects the nerves in toes, feet, legs, hands, and arms. Peripheral neuropathy may also cause muscle weakness and loss of reflexes, especially at the ankle, leading to changes in the way a person walks. Foot deformities, such as hammertoes and the collapse of the mid-foot, may occur. Blisters and sores may appear on numb areas of the foot because an injury goes unnoticed. If foot injuries are not treating promptly, may end up with amputated. However, amputations can be preventable if problems are treating in time.

Autonomic neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves and causes problems in heart & blood vessels, digestion system, respiratory function, urination track, sexual response, sweat organs and vision. In addition, the system that restores blood-glucose levels to normal after a hypoglycemic episode may affect, resulting in loss of the warning symptoms of hypoglycemia.

Proximal neuropathy

Proximal neuropathy, otherwise called as lumbosacral plexus neuropathy, femoral neuropathy, or diabetic amyotrophy. It affects thighs, hips, buttocks, and legs. It starts pain in the thighs, hips, buttocks, or legs, usually on one side of the body. Proximal neuropathy is more common among type 2 diabetes and in older adults with diabetes. Proximal neuropathy can cause weakness in the legs so needs help for standing from sitting position. It needs treatment for weakness or pain; recovery period varies depending on the severity of nerve damage.

Focal neuropathy

Focal neuropathy appears suddenly and affects nerves in the head, torso, or leg.
Focal neuropathy is painful, unpredictable and occurs mostly in older diabetic adults. It tends to improve by itself over time and does not cause any long-term damage.
People with diabetes also tend to develop nerve compressions, otherwise called as entrapment syndromes. The most common one is carpal tunnel syndrome, causes numbness /tingling of hands, and sometimes muscle weakness/pain. Other nerve’s entrapments may cause pain on the shin outside or foot inside.