Health Information

Diabetic Neuropathy (Nerve Problems)

What is diabetic neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy, a nerve disorder, is a complication of diabetes that can lead to problems throughout the body.

Persons with diabetes can develop nerve problems at any time, but significant clinical neuropathy can develop within the first 10 years after receiving a diabetes diagnosis. The risk of developing neuropathy increases the longer a person has diabetes. About half of people with diabetes have some form of neuropathy.

What causes diabetic neuropathy?

Although the exact causes of diabetic neuropathy are unknown, several factors may contribute to the disorder, including the following:
  • high blood glucose
    High blood glucose causes chemical changes in nerves and impairs the nerves' ability to transmit signals. It also has the potential to damage blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to the nerves.    
  • inherited factors
    There are some genetic traits that may make some people more susceptible to nerve disease than others.

Treatment for neuropathy:

Specific treatment for neuropathy will be determined by your physician based on:
  • your age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the disease
  • your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the disease
  • your opinion or preference