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Diagnosing Diabetic Nerve Pain

Ways to Identify Your Condition and Find Help

It’s important to know that elevated blood sugar can lead to different diabetes complications over time, including kidney and eye (retinopathy) conditions. It can also cause nerve damage in the feet and hands.

If you have diabetes, you should go to your doctor for a foot exam every year. The goal of the exam is to check for diabetic peripheral neuropathy.

If you have pain, then the neuropathy might be called painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy. It’s also called diabetic nerve pain. Your diagnosis and treatment may be based on your level of pain.

Your doctor may use different tests to help make a diagnosis. Some of these tests include:

  • 10-gram monofilament test
  • Electromyograms (EMGs)
  • Nerve conduction studies

The 10-gram monofilament test is an important one. It checks to see if you can feel the touch of a thin plastic wire.

In order to determine your diagnosis and treatment, your doctor may also review your symptoms. Your doctor might want to know how your symptoms impact your quality of life. To help you explain the impact of your pain, try using our Diabetic Nerve Pain Impact Questionnaire.

Remember, regular exams are important because someone with diabetes can have peripheral neuropathy without pain. This is true in the early stages of neuropathy.

Your doctor may want to treat your pain, especially if it’s making it difficult for you to be physically active. When you have less pain, you can focus on increasing your activity to better control your blood sugar level. Physical activity is an important part of good diabetes care.

To hear how one real patient was diagnosed and how she managed her diabetic nerve pain,
read Dorothy's Story.

Foot Care Is Important if You Have Diabetic Neuropathy

There are some real risks to diabetic peripheral neuropathy. As you may know, one of the symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy is numbness. And if your foot is numb, you may not feel an injury. For example, if you step on a nail and don’t treat that injury properly, you could get a very serious infection.

If you have neuropathy, with or without pain, remember to:

  • Check your feet every night
  • Check your shoes
  • Pay more attention to your feet
  • Get foot exams more often
  • Talk to your doctor

Kim Lyons Video

The health information contained herein is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace discussions with a healthcare provider. All decisions regarding patient care must be made with a healthcare provider, considering the unique characteristics of the patient.