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July 31, 2001

Aches and Pains, Complications

Question from South Range, Wisconsin, USA:

My 20 year old daughter was just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and has had leg pain for years. Twice in two months, she has been hospitalized for unbearable leg pain, and the doctors can't find anything. Some discount neuropathy, but others suggest it. Isn't there a test to confirm or eliminate it? Could this have been an early warning sign of her diabetes?

Answer:

The neurologic test usually performed for diabetic neuropathy is an EMG (electromyogram). This gives a nonspecific diagnosis and looks to rule out others. Generally, painful neuropathy is preceded by a longer period of hyperglycemia (years in duration) and is made worse during periods of intermittently high sugars.

I would ask for a referral to a good neurologist to discuss the possibilities. I am not convinced it is all from diabetes.

JTL