Prevalence and impact on quality of life of peripheral neuropathy with or without neuropathic pain in type 1 and type 2 diabetic patients attending hospital outpatients clinics

Diabetes Metab. 2009 Jun;35(3):206-13. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2008.11.004. Epub 2009 Mar 17.


Aims: Diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN) without or with neuropathic pain (DPN-P) is one of the most frequent complications of diabetes. To better delineate their respective prevalences, we conducted a cross-sectional study that included 1111 patients (767 type 2 and 344 type 1 diabetic patients) followed up in diabetic outpatients clinics. The association of DPN and DPN-P with other diabetic complications, the impact on quality of life (QoL) and pain management were also investigated.

Methods: Two validated tools (Neuropen) and the DN4 questionnaire) were used to diagnose the two conditions. Pain intensity was measured using a visual analogue scale, and participants completed the 12-item Short-Form Health Survey to evaluate the physical and mental components of QoL. Univariate and multivariate models were used for the statistical analyses.

Results: The prevalence of DPN was 43% (95% CI 40.1-45.9), and was higher in type 2 (50.8%) than in type 1 (25.6%) diabetic patients. The prevalence of DPN-P was 14% (95% CI 12.1-16.2) which, again, was higher in type 2 (17.9%) than in type 1 (5.8%) patients. These prevalences both increased with age and diabetes duration. Nephropathy, obesity, low HDL cholesterol and high triglyceride levels were independently associated with DPN and/or DPN-P. Physical and mental components of QoL were significantly altered by DPN-P, but not DPN. Only half of the DPN-P patients were using analgesic treatment, while 28% were using anticonvulsants or antidepressants.

Conclusion: DPN and DPN-P are frequent complications of diabetes, especially in type 2, and can be identified with inexpensive and easy-to-use screening tools. Despite its profound impact on QoL, DPN-P remains undertreated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Belgium
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / psychology
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / complications
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / physiopathology*
  • Diabetic Neuropathies / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inpatients*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outpatients*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain / psychology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / psychology
  • Quality of Life*