Neuropathy: Main Image

Related Topics

  1. Type 2 Diabetes
  2. Type 1 Diabetes
  3. Diabetes Health Center

About This Condition

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you are at increased risk for developing nerve damage, or neuropathy. Some types of diabetic neuropathy can cause chronic pain and others can lead to foot ulcers that may ultimately require amputation. Managing your diabetes, especially if you have type 1 diabetes, can help to prevent neuropathy, and early diagnosis and intervention may slow its progression.1

Certain chemotherapy medications used to treat cancer commonly cause temporary or permanent neuropathy. You can work with your doctor to take steps to reduce the risk of developing chemotherapy-related neuropathy or to manage the condition if you already have it.2

The symptoms of neuropathy are varied and depend upon the nerves involved and the type of nerve damage. For most people with diabetes, neuropathy involves the peripheral nerves and causes symptoms such as tingling, pain, loss of sensations, or weakness in the feet, spreading to the legs and eventually the fingers and arms.3 Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, and often causes pain severe enough to limit cancer treatment.4 Because it is the most common form of neuropathy, this article addresses only peripheral neuropathy.


Neuropathy can have many symptoms. The symptoms experienced will depend upon which nerves are affected, or damaged. Symptoms may include tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness in the feet, legs, and hands; delayed stomach emptying (gastroparesis), diarrhea, or constipation; bladder paralysis and urine retention; erectile dysfunction in men and vaginal dryness or lack of arousal in women; fainting, dizziness, or rapid heart rate; blurry vision, or difficulty with vision, such as the eyes not adjusting well to changing light conditions. For people receiving chemotherapy medications, the most common neuropathy symptoms include tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness in the feet, legs, and hands.5, 6

Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Neuropathy is a common complication of chronic diabetes, but careful regulation of blood glucose levels can help reduce the risk and slow the progression of diabetic neuropathy.7, 8 Exercise interventions have been shown to improve peripheral nerve function and reduce neuropathy symptoms in people with diabetes.9, 10 In addition to promoting healthy blood glucose regulation, exercise can help preserve muscle mass and strength, which have been correlated with reduced risk and severity of diabetic neuropathy.11, 12

While many people with type 1 diabetes can benefit from regular, moderate exercise, physical activity can lead to low blood sugar levels (hypoglycemia). If you have type 1 diabetes, never begin an intensive exercise program without consulting a healthcare professional first.

Some physical activities are not safe for people with neuropathy. These activities may cause injury or tissue damage that people with existing neuropathy may not feel or notice. This can lead to more serious problems. Consult with a qualified healthcare provider, such as a diabetes clinical exercise expert for guidance.

Because people with diabetic neuropathy have a high risk of foot complications, it is important to wear activity-appropriate, well-fitting footwear, and comfortable, moisture-wicking socks. Keeping feet clean and dry by carefully washing and drying between the toes will help protect foot health. It is also important to monitor the condition of the feet regularly, and notify a healthcare provider if calluses, blisters, or red, swollen, or inflamed areas that do not heal are present. Ask a spouse, partner, or home healthcare provider to help you with areas you can’t see, such as the bottoms of your feet.13, 14

People with diabetes who smoke are at higher risk for diabetes complications, including neuropathy.15 Therefore, smoking cessation is an urgent goal for people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes to prevent diabetes-related neuropathy and foot disease.16

Copyright © 2021 TraceGains, Inc. All rights reserved.

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The information presented by TraceGains is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires December 2021.

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