Diabetic neuropathy--a review

Nat Clin Pract Neurol. 2007 Jun;3(6):331-40. doi: 10.1038/ncpneuro0504.


Diabetic neuropathy is the most common neuropathy in industrialized countries, and it is associated with a wide range of clinical manifestations. The vast majority of patients with clinical diabetic neuropathy have a distal symmetrical form of the disorder that progresses following a fiber-length-dependent pattern, with sensory and autonomic manifestations predominating. This pattern of neuropathy is associated with a progressive distal axonopathy. Patients experience pain, trophic changes in the feet, and autonomic disturbances. Occasionally, patients with diabetes can develop focal and multifocal neuropathies that include cranial nerve involvement and limb and truncal neuropathies. This neuropathic pattern tends to occur after 50 years of age, and mostly in patients with long-standing diabetes mellitus. Length-dependent diabetic polyneuropathy does not show any trend towards improvement, and either relentlessly progresses or remains relatively stable over a number of years. Conversely, the focal diabetic neuropathies, which are often associated with inflammatory vasculopathy on nerve biopsies, remain self-limited, sometimes after a relapsing course.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetic Neuropathies / diagnosis*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / therapy
  • Humans
  • Peripheral Nerves / pathology*
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiopathology*