ANNOUNCER: While peripheral neuropathy describes damage to any part of the peripheral nervous system, some patients with diabetes may also experience what's known as peripheral polyneuropathy. This is when many nerves of the peripheral nervous system do not work properly.
RUSSELL K. PORTENOY, MD: The earliest symptoms are typically numbness, tingling, or pain in the feet. Those symptoms can sometimes gradually ascend up the legs and ultimately move to involve both hands. The same kinds of symptoms, numbness, tingling and pain, will then affect the fingers, and can gradually travel up the hands and into the arms.
ANNOUNCER: The terms peripheral neuropathy and peripheral polyneuropathy are often used interchangeably, and diagnosis and treatment is the same for both.
There are many causes of peripheral neuropathy, including shingles, vitamin deficiencies, HIV, liver disease, and kidney disease, but diabetes is the leading cause in the United States.
Of the many symptoms associated with DPN, pain is the most distressing. The pain of DPN is potentially disabling and leads many patients to seek help.
ROY FREEMAN, MD: The pain can be present at rest and can be a burning sensation, a stabbing sensation, can be pins and needles that are uncomfortable, or it can be evoked by various stimuli. And some patients find it intolerable even to lie in bed; the contact merely with the bedclothes can be excruciatingly painful. Some patients find it difficult wearing shoes and socks, due to the discomfort of the peripheral neuropathy.