Author(s): Casellini CM, Vinik AI
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To review the clinical manifestations and current treatment options for diabetic neuropathies, one of the most common complications of diabetes mellitus. METHODS: We performed a MEDLINE search of the English-language literature using a combination of words (diabetic neuropathy, diabetic autonomic neuropathy, diagnosis and treatment) to identify original studies, consensus statements, and reviews on diabetic neuropathies published in the past 25 years. Emphasis was placed on clinical manifestations of distal polyneuropathy and its treatment, especially new therapies. RESULTS: Distal symmetric polyneuropathy, the most common form of diabetic neuropathy, usually involves small and large nerve fibers. Small-nerve fiber neuropathy often presents with pain and loss of intraepidermal nerve fibers, but without objective signs or electrophysiologic evidence of nerve damage. This type of neuropathy is a component of impaired glucose tolerance and the metabolic syndrome. The greatest risk from small-fiber neuropathy is foot ulceration and subsequent gangrene and amputation. Large-nerve fiber neuropathy produces numbness, ataxia, and incoordination, thus impairing activities of daily living and causing falls and fractures. Successfully treating diabetic neuropathy requires addressing the underlying pathogenic mechanisms, treating symptoms to improve quality of life, and preventing progression and complications of diabetes mellitus. Two new drugs, duloxetine hydrochloride and pregabalin, have recently been approved for treatment of neuropathic pain associated with diabetes mellitus. CONCLUSION: Symptomatic therapy has become available and newer and better treatment modalities, based on etiologic factors, are being explored with potential for clinically significant reduction of morbidity and mortality. Preventive strategies and patient and physician education still remain key factors in reducing complication rates and mortality.
This article was published in Endocr Pract
and referenced in International Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation