Peripheral, Proximal, Autonomic, Oh My!

Neuropathy can be broken down into multiple types, however, one of the most common factors is diabetic neuropathy. Diabetic neuropathy is very common and a very serious complication of diabetes. It occurs when the body’s blood sugar is too high for too long. The best way to manage this is to manage your blood sugar level.  This chronic illness is also broken down into multiple “types” as well. So, which do you have? Bonus at the end.


Proximal Neuropathy (also known as diabetic amyotrophy)

Proximal neuropathy is the second most common type of diabetic neuropathy. This type of neuropathy often presents with pain in the muscles primarily in the legs and hips. In proximal neuropathy cases, it often comes with nerve pain or sciatica that send pain downwards to your feet. An interesting fact about this type of diabetic neuropathy is there have been cases where the neuropathy has actually concluded in the body, with management and time.


Peripheral Neuropathy (also known as distal polyneuropathy)

Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of neuropathy following unmanaged diabetes. The word “distal” actually refers to “further away from the body”. For example, the “distal radius” refers to the bone in your forearm, closer to your hand. Peripheral neuropathy is just that: pain in your extremities, usually occurring a bit further from the trunk of your body. This pain is typically regarded as residing in your hand, legs, and feet because the neuropathy affects the nerves leading to those areas. The main issue with this type of diabetic neuropathy is the intense pain in the feet caused by erosion of the myelin sheath of descending leg and feet nerves. The nerves in your legs and feet actually start at your 5 lumbar vertebrae, so they actually go quite a long way down. The more length of nerve there is, the more surface area there is for diabetic neuropathy to enter and wreak havoc. This is why pain in the feet is so commonly associated with this type of diabetic neuropathy.


Autonomic Neuropathy

This type of diabetic neuropathy affects the nerves that keep your body running as it should, without you telling it what to do. These nerves include digesting your food, heart rate regulation and breathing right now without actually consciously thinking about breathing 24/7. All of these nerves fall under the autonomic nervous system. This part of the body’s nervous system is the reason we are all alive without thinking about doing all of the things that keep us alive. Just bear in mind that there are other nerves in this special nervous system that can be affected that don’t affect a vital component of living.


MORE: Heartburn, Indigestion and 25 Other Symptoms Caused by Autonomic Neuropathy


BONUS: Focal Nerve Damage (also known as mononeuropathy)

This type of neuropathy is much different as it only affects one nerve in the body. The others listed above are types of neuropathy that affect multiple (poly) nerves. Focal (or focused) neuropathy affects nerves either in the head, torso or legs. It most commonly affects the nerve in the head, strangely affecting the eyes more than others. When this type of neuropathy occurs in the lower extremities it is different than proximal neuropathy because of specific areas it targets.The worst part about this type of neuropathy is the pain it causes and how swiftly it occurs.


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