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November 24, 2002

Other Illnesses

Question from South Bend, Indiana, USA:

I am a 52 year old woman with a history of high blood pressure, obesity, and smoking. About nine months ago, I had bronchitis and developed numbness in my left leg. After about five weeks, I became numb from the waist down in both legs. I was hospitalized for an abscess in my lung at which time it was discovered I had undiagnosed diabetes (probably for several months). In the course of trying to find the cause of the numbness, a pituitary macroadenoma was found which was operated on last month. I was found to have some disc herniation but I have no pain, just the numbness which has remained unchanged for months. I am able to walk and have some feeling.

Is it likely that the numbness was caused by the undiagnosed diabetes? What are the chances it will improve? I take insulin and my sugar is under control. The neurologist said I am not a candidate for surgery, and the endocrinologist has me taking Vitamin B complex. Is there anything that could help (acupuncture, etc.)? I also take Vioxx for arthritis — could this be a factor?


From: DTeam Staff

I am sorry to hear about your medical problems. You have had more than your fair share. As far as the diabetes causing the numbness, I am not sure that is the case. Diabetic neuropathy can take many forms. However, the extensive numbness you have had from the waist down sounds more than just the diabetes. Neuropathy can also cause focal numbness that corresponds to a specific area over the skin called a dermatome. Your involvement is much greater than this. Neuropathy tends to affect individuals that have had high sugars for a long time. To have this be the initial expression of your diabetes is unlikely. Without a specific diagnosis, it is not possible to recommend a therapy.