Does High Blood Sugar, High Insulin Levels or a Combination Cause Neuropathy in Feet?


Quick Answer

Peripheral neuropathy in the feet, the most common complication of diabetes, is caused by too-high blood sugar levels resulting in nerve damage that causes numbness and often pain, states WebMD. It is found in 60 to 70 percent of individuals with diabetes, although it is avoidable.

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Studies show that by keeping blood sugar levels within normal ranges, diabetics can lower the risk of developing nerve damage that affects the legs, feet, hands and other parts of the body, explains WebMD. Because the damaged nerves are no longer effective at relaying messages from the brain to the extremities, diabetics with neuropathy may not feel painful sensations or discern extreme temperatures in their hands and feet. The resulting injuries and infections may go unnoticed and untreated and can be life threatening. The lack of healthy blood circulation in the affected extremities puts diabetics at risk for ulcers and possible amputation.

The symptoms of nerve damage, which can occur gradually and are hard to notice initially, include loss of sensation, tingling, burning sensations and sharp, stabbing pain, notes WebMD. Muscle weakness may result, affecting balance, mobility, and hand strength and dexterity. Some individuals are very sensitive to tactile stimulation; the symptoms are often most severe at night. In addition to peripheral diabetic neuropathy, excessively high blood sugar levels over prolonged periods of time cause autonomic, focal and proximal neuropathies.

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