Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms

Pain, Tingling, Numbness, and More

Written by Daniel J. Toft MD, PhD

The symptoms of diabetic neuropathy depend on what type of neuropathy  you have. Symptoms are dependent on which nerves have been damaged. In general, diabetic neuropathy symptoms develop gradually; they may seem like minor and infrequent pains or problems at first, but as the nerves become more damaged, symptoms may grow.

Don’t overlook mild symptoms. They can indicate the beginning of neuropathy. Talk to your doctor about anything you notice—such as any pain, numbness, weakness, or tingling—even if it seems insignificant.  Your pain may mean the control of your diabetes could be improved, which will can help slow down the progression of your neuropathy. Pain and numbness are also important warning signs to take very good care of your feet, so you can avoid wounds and infections that can be difficult to heal and even raise risk for amputation. 1

Peripheral Neuropathy Symptoms

Peripheral neuropathy affects nerves leading to your extremities—the feet, legs, hands, and arms. The nerves leading to your feet are the longest in your body, so they are the most often affected nerves (simply because there’s more of them to be damaged). Peripheral neuropathy is the most common form of diabetic neuropathy.

Peripheral neuropathy symptoms include:

Autonomic Neuropathy Symptoms

The autonomic nervous system is in charge of the "involuntary" functions of your body. It keeps your heart pumping and makes sure you digest your food right—without you needing to think about it.

Autonomic neuropathy symptoms include:

Cardiovascular System

Digestive System


Reproductive System

Sweat Glands

Urinary System

People with autonomic neuropathy may also have trouble figuring out when their blood sugar level is too low—which is particularly dangerous for people with diabetes. This is called “hypoglycemia unawareness,” and it occurs when the normal responses to low blood sugar (sweating, shakiness, etc.) don’t kick in because of nerve damage.

Again, your symptoms depend on which autonomic nerves are damaged and which part of the body’s autonomic system they control.

Proximal Neuropathy Symptoms

Proximal neuropathy affects the buttocks, hips, thighs, and legs. Its symptoms aren’t usually long-term; they may go away after several weeks or months.

Symptoms include:

Focal Neuropathy Symptoms

Unlike the other types of diabetic nerve pain, focal neuropathy comes on suddenly, and it usually affects the head, torso, or legs. Symptoms usually go away after a few weeks; these aren’t long-term symptoms.

Possible focal neuropathy symptoms:









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Diabetic Neuropathy: Causes and Symptoms