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Types of Diabetic Neuropathy: Autonomic Neuropathy

Autonomic neuropathy affects the nerves that control the:
  • Digestive system
  • Heart and circulatory system
  • Urinary tract
  • Sex organs
  • Sweat glands
  • Eyes.
In addition, the system that restores blood glucose levels to normal after a hypoglycemic episode may be affected, resulting in loss of the warning signs of hypoglycemia, such as sweating and palpitations.
(Click Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms for more information about this type of diabetic neuropathy and its impact on various organs.)

Types of Diabetic Neuropathy: Proximal Neuropathy

Proximal neuropathy starts with pain in the thighs, hips, buttocks, or legs, usually on one side of the body.
This type of diabetic neuropathy is also known as:
  • Femoral neuropathy
  • Diabetic amyotrophy
  • Lumbosacral plexus neuropathy.
This type of neuropathy is more common in people with type 2 diabetes and the elderly. It causes weakness in the legs -- signalled by an inability to go from a sitting to a standing position without help. Treatment for weakness or pain is usually required. The length of the recovery period varies, depending on the type of nerve damage.

Types of Diabetic Neuropathy: Focal Neuropathy

Occasionally, diabetic neuropathy appears suddenly and affects specific nerves, most often in the head, torso, or leg. Focal neuropathy may cause:
  • Double vision
  • Aching behind one eye
  • Inability to focus the eye
  • Pain in the front of a thigh
  • Pain in the chest, stomach, or flank
  • Severe pain in the lower back or pelvis
  • Pain on the outside of the shin or inside the foot
  • Paralysis on one side of the face (Bell's palsy)
  • Chest or abdominal pain that is sometimes mistaken for heart disease, heart attack, or appendicitis.
This type of diabetic neuropathy is painful and unpredictable, and occurs most often in older people. However, it tends to improve by itself over weeks or months and does not cause long-term damage.
People with diabetes also tend to develop nerve compressions (also called nerve entrapment syndromes). One of the most common is carpal tunnel syndrome, which causes numbness and tingling of the hand and sometimes muscle weakness or pain. Other nerves susceptible to entrapment may cause pain on the outside of the shin or the inside of the foot.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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