June 6, 2006
Aches and Pains, Complications
Question from Montreal, Quebec, Canada:
I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1965. I have been living with it for more than 41 years. For the last five or six months, I have experienced numbness in my thighs, especially the sides. My family physician told me it would be surprising if this were neuropathy because only people with very advanced diabetes condition can get neuropathy in their thighs. I had to consult for an emergency situation and the doctor I saw was positive about this condition being neuropathy. How and what kind of test could be done to confirm that?
The diagnosis for diabetic neuropathy is largely clinical. However, you can get additional information from neurophysiologic tests, such as nerve conduction studies. They are not specific, but the diagnosis can be found to be compatible with diabetic neuropathy. Your condition needs to be differentiated from a nerve compression syndrome that affects the nerve plexus or the spinal roots that exit from the back. For this, the nerve conduction studies would be good. You can usually get these by consulting with your primary care physician. Neurologists or physiatrists usually perform these, as they require special expertise for interpretation.