What does is mean if a diabetic's fingers are numb?


Quick Answer

Numb fingers or toes is often a sign of diabetic neuropathy, or nerve damage due to diabetes, notes the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that affects about 60 to 70 percent of diabetics and can affect any part of the body, including the hands, arms, legs and feet, as well as the heart, sex organs and gastrointestinal tract. Many times, it affects more than one system at a time.

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Full Answer

There are several different types of diabetic neuropathy, notes Mayo Clinic. The most common is peripheral neuropathy, which typically first affects the feet and toes and later spreads to the fingers and hands. Symptoms include numbness, tingling, weakness or pain in the affected extremities. Skin infections and ulcers also are common, especially in the feet.

Autonomic neuropathy is another type of diabetic neuropathy that affects the nerves that control the bladder, heart, gastrointestinal tract and eyes, explains Mayo Clinic. Symptoms depend on which organs are involved, and include urinary incontinence or retention, constipation or diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, bloating and nausea. If the heart is involved, symptoms such as dizziness upon standing and an elevated heart rate may occur. Some people have changes in vision, an unstable body temperature and excessive sweating as well.

Radiculoplexus neuropathy affects the muscles in the hip, buttocks and thigh, usually on just one side of the body, notes Mayo Clinic. Similarly, mononeuropathy affects only one nerve in the body and a single body part, such as the head, face, leg or thigh. Both cause pain and weakness in the affected area. However, unlike other forms of diabetic neuropathy, the symptoms usually diminish over time.

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