Diabetic Neuropathy

When to see a doctor

Seek medical care if you notice:

  • A cut or sore on your foot that doesn’t seem to be healing, is infected or is getting worse
  • Burning, tingling, weakness or pain in your hands or feet that interferes with your daily routine or your sleep
  • Dizziness
  • Changes in your digestion, urination or sexual function

How is diabetic neuropathy diagnosed?

Doctors diagnose neuropathy on the basis of symptoms and a physical exam. During the exam, your doctor may check blood pressure, heart rate, muscle strength, reflexes, and sensitivity to position changes, vibration, temperature, or light touch.

Regular foot exams by a doctor

People with diabetes should have a comprehensive foot exam each year to check for peripheral neuropathy. A comprehensive foot exam assesses the skin, muscles, bones, circulation, and sensation of the feet. People diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy need more frequent foot exams.

Other Tests

The doctor may perform other tests as part of your diagnosis.

  • Nerve conduction studies – This test measures how quickly the nerves in your arms and legs conduct electrical signals. It’s often used to diagnose carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Electromyography (EMG) – Often performed along with nerve conduction studies, electromyography measures the electrical discharges produced in your muscles.
  • Quantitative sensory testing – This non-invasive test is used to assess how your nerves respond to vibration and changes in temperature.
  • Autonomic testing – If you have symptoms of autonomic neuropathy, your doctor may request special tests to look at your blood pressure in different positions and assess your ability to sweat.

If you already have diabetic neuropathy, you’ll likely be referred to a podiatrist or other specialist for monitoring and treatment.

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