Focal Neuropathy. This is a condition due to damage to a single nerve or group of nerves. It may develop when the blood supply to a nerve is shut off because of a blockage in the blood vessel that supplies the nerve. Or it could result from a nerve being pinched. Focal neuropathy can injure nerves that sense touch and pain as well as nerves that move muscles. Fortunately, it is not usually a permanent condition. It usually goes away within 2 weeks to 18 months.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, a type of focal neuropathy, occurs about three times more often in people with diabetes than in the general population and more often in women than in men.
It occurs when the median nerve of the forearm is squeezed in its passageway, or tunnel, by the carpal bones of the wrists.
It can cause tingling, burning, and numbness and can make you drop things you are holding without even realizing it. Suspect carpal tunnel syndrome if you have tingling in your hands or fingers that goes away when your arms are relaxed down at your sides. Carpal tunnel syndrome is often treated with splints, medication, or surgery to remove the pressure on the nerve.
Autonomic Neuropathy. Some of your nerves control parts of your body that you don’t move voluntarily. These are called autonomic nerves, and when they become damaged, autonomic neuropathy can result. Autonomic neuropathy can take many different forms:
- Gastroparesis: Your stomach and intestines slow down or become less efficient at emptying, leading to feeling full after a few bites of food, erratic glucose levels, nausea and vomiting, constipation, or diarrhea.
- Nerves to the bladder can become damaged, causing diminished sensation of bladder fullness and an inability to completely empty the bladder. Because urine can then stay in the bladder for long periods, you are at high risk for developing urinary tract infections.
- Erectile dysfunction: Men may find that they cannot have an erection even though they may still have sexual desire.
- Women may experience vaginal dryness and a decreased sexual response.
- Autonomic neuropathy can also affect blood pressure. You may find yourself feeling lightheaded or dizzy when you stand because of a drop in blood pressure. This is called orthostatic hypotension. Or when you exercise, your blood pressure may go way up.
- Nerves to the skin may cause too much or too little sweating or very dry skin.
- Nerves to the heart may fail to speed up or slow down your heart rate in response to exercise. That is one of the reasons it is important to get a checkup before starting any exercise program. If your heart rate doesn’t respond as it should to exertion, you won’t be able to use a standard method, such as counting your pulse, to find your target heart rate during and after a workout.