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May 25, 2002

Complications

Question from Kentucky, USA:

About six months ago, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and although my physician, as yet, has not confirmed that I have peripheral neuropathy, I believe I do. From the waist down I have all the symptoms (numbness, tingling, stiffness, and heaviness). Quite frankly, I am almost a cripple. As part of treatment, my doctor referred me to specialists who took x-rays and tests on my lower body. After the tests were completed these specialists told me that I was "maintaining". In other words, as I understood, the neuropathy (so far) was not worsening, yet was not improving. When I inquired about treatment for the neuropathy, I was told that my doctor most likely would prescribe a routine of vitamins. In the literature about diabetes, I have read where neuropathy can be prevented. However, this is too late for me. I am wondering if my neuropathy is curable or will continue to profoundly affect my mobility.

Answer:

I would hope that, as you control the glucose better, the neuropathy might improve. There are clinical trials going on. Do a search and see if someone is doing something near you.

LD
Additional comments from Dr. Jim Lane:

I would say that the presence of neuropathy and its symptoms can be quite variable. Painful sensations can often be treated. Lack of sensation, however, cannot usually be treated. Electromyogram (EMG) findings ( the test that is used to determine nerve conduction speeds and performed with a lot of needle sticks) are usually non-specific. Weakness in the flexors of the legs can be transient but how long is only a guess. The bottom line is that this is a variable course and there are no good prognostic tests.

JTL