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Diabetic Neuropathy


Diabetic neuropathy (DN) is a condition caused by nerve damage from long-term high blood sugar levels. The most common nerve damage occurs in the legs, feet, arms, or hands. Nerves in your heart or digestive system may also be damaged.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


You may have a cut or sore on your feet and not notice it. A cut or sore can develop into a foot ulcer, become infected, and need surgery. Your body may have trouble controlling your temperature. Your heart may not be able to tolerate exercise. Damaged nerves may keep you from recognizing that your blood sugar level is too low. The normal warning signs, such as cold sweats and a rapid heartbeat, may not occur. High blood pressure and heart disease may develop with DN.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

A dietitian

may work with you to find a meal plan that will help you control your blood sugar. Ask how your favorite foods may fit into this meal plan. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about meal planning.


The goal of treatment is to prevent more nerve damage. You may need these or other medicines:

  • Insulin or diabetes medicine may be given to decrease the amount of sugar in your blood.

  • Nausea medicine helps calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.

  • Motility medicine helps your stomach muscles move food and liquids out of your stomach faster. This medicine also may help you digest food better.

  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.


  • Blood tests may show your A1c and electrolyte levels, or thyroid function.

  • An electromyography (EMG) test measures the electrical activity of your muscles at rest and with movement.

  • Nerve conduction studies show how surface nerves and related muscles in the body respond to stimulation.

  • A gastric-emptying scan measures how quickly food moves out of your stomach. A slightly radioactive substance is placed in food. The amount of radiation is small and safe. You eat the food and then lie under a machine that takes pictures of the food inside your stomach. Pictures will be taken every 15 minutes, up to 4 hours after you eat, or as directed.

  • An EKG or other heart tests record your heart rhythm and how fast your heart beats. It is used to check for heart problems caused by DN.

  • Urine tests may show bladder control, function, and other problems caused by DN.

© 2015 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.