Diabetes Home > Diabetic Neuropathy Diagnosis

A doctor reaches a diabetic neuropathy diagnosis based on symptoms, a physical exam, and certain tests. To make a definitive diabetic neuropathy diagnosis, the doctor will do a comprehensive foot exam to assess the skin, circulation, and sensation. Tests used to reach a diabetic neuropathy diagnosis include nerve conduction studies, electromyography (EMG), and ultrasound.

Diabetic Neuropathy Diagnosis: An Overview

A diabetic neuropathy diagnosis is made on the basis of symptoms, a physical exam, and the results of certain tests.
 

Diabetic Neuropathy Diagnosis: The Physical Exam

During the physical exam, the doctor may check:
 
  • Blood pressure and heart rate
  • Muscle strength
  • Reflexes
  • Sensitivity to position, vibration, temperature, or a light touch.
     
To make a diabetic neuropathy diagnosis, the doctor will also do a comprehensive foot exam to assess the:
 
  • Skin
  • Circulation
  • Sensation.
     
The test can be done during a routine office visit. To assess protective sensation or feeling in the foot, a nylon monofilament (similar to a bristle on a hairbrush) attached to a wand is used to touch the foot. Those who cannot sense pressure from the monofilament have lost protective sensation and are at risk for developing foot sores that may not heal properly.
 
Other aspects of the physical exam include checking reflexes and assessing vibration perception, which is more sensitive than touch pressure.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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