Diabetic Neuropathies Classification based on type of nerve affected
Diabetic Neuropathy is damage to the peripheral nerves that pass through the human body and damages the different nerves that comprise it. If we properly control blood glucose levels and maintain a Hemoglobin A1c of 7% or less, we may be able to prevent such damage.
There are 3 types of peripheral nerves, which are:
- Motor nerves
- Sensory nerves
- Autonomic nerves
Motor nerves carry signals from the brain to the muscles, ordering them to exert the desired movements, such as holding a pencil, writing, walking, etc.
Sensory nerves, work inversely, that is they send signals to the brain with information about textures, cold, heat, pain, etc. If we close our eyes and touch a rough, thick and wet carpet, those sensors will transmit all the necessary information without us even having to look at the carpet.
Autonomic nerves are those that can’t be consciously controlled, including functions such as controlling heart rate, sweating, digestion, etc. Altering the autonomic nervous system may be manifested by your pupils, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, genitourinary and sweating system.
Diabetic Neuropathy can damage one or more of these types of nerves and each of them leads to different manifestations and effects on the body, in different ways. This is why Diabetic Neuropathies are also classified based on the type of affected nerve.
Classification of Neuropathies based on the type of affected nerve
It is important to understand that each type of nerve affected by Diabetic Neuropathy has different manifestations and consequences, which is why you need to recognize them and check with your doctor, so they can evaluate and explain what should be done to address the problem and try to prevent damage from progressing to more severe stages.
Motor Diabetic Neuropathy or damage to the motor nerves: There are symptoms that indicate motor nerve damage such as paralysis, weakness and loss of muscle tone in legs and feet, changes in the shape of the foot (Charcot foot), lack of coordination and loss of balance.
Sensory Diabetic Neuropathy or damage to the sensory nerves: There are symptoms that indicate damage to the sensory nerves, such as loss of reflexes, numbness, stinging, burning or shocks, sharp or severe pain, loss of tactile (touch), algesic (pain) and thermal (temperature) sensitivity in the arms and legs, tingling and burning sensation and extreme sensitivity to touch.
Autonomic Diabetic Neuropathy or damage to the autonomic nerves: Symptoms that indicate damage to the autonomic nerves are bloating, feeling full sooner than normal, low blood pressure especially after meals, lightheadedness or fainting, loss of bladder or bowel control, vomiting, reflux, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and also problems with men sexual health such as erectile dysfunction and “dry” or reduced ejaculation, and in women, lack of vaginal lubrication and less ability to have orgasms.
If you have reflux, nausea and digestive problems, you might have Gastroparesis, where it’s advisable to eat smaller portions of food and take medications to treat it. If you have hypotension, or low blood pressure, especially after meals, it’s important to avoid standing up very quickly and take medication to control this problem. If you have any urinary tract problems, you may need medication, the insertion of a catheter into the bladder or surgery. If you are a man and are having trouble getting or maintaining an erection (impotence) it is important to know that there are treatment options to help you improve or resolve this problem, such as pills, hormone therapy (testosterone), intraurethral injections, vacuuming and penile prosthesis implants. If you are a woman and lack lubrication or have vaginal dryness or difficulty having orgasms, there are estrogen vaginal creams, suppositories, rings, lubricants and medicines that help solve or fix this problem.
If you show any of these motor, sensory or autonomic neuropathy symptoms, you should consult your doctor as soon as possible so you can get thoroughly checked, to get all the necessary evaluations to determine if there’s any damage and the degree to which it might’ve progressed. Thus, your doctor will be able to diagnose you and prescribe a treatment to alleviate or decrease your symptoms and try to stop or prevent the problem from progressing into more severe stages.
It’s important for people with diabetes to recognize any manifestations of problems or symptoms that may occur, and as soon as possible to take all the necessary steps to improve, stop or reverse the problem.
At Diabetes Up to Date, we are committed to offer education and updated information regarding Diabetes and its complications to prevent irreversible damage or chronic complications that may affect your quality of life, so you can enjoy a healthy, productive and happy life.
3. Spinal Cord
4. Peripheral Nerves