Diabetic Nerve Pain

Diabetes can have a detrimental effect on your nerves. Diabetic nerve pain — more commonly known as neuropathy — can be excruciating. It can manifest itself in several different ways, all of which appear to be tied to higher blood sugar levels. To prevent diabetic nerve pain, work with your doctor to keep your blood sugar levels in your target range.

Diabetic nerve pain is classified into four types: peripheral, autonomic, proximal, and focal.

1. Peripheral Neuropathy

This type of diabetic nerve pain is most commonly felt in the feet and legs. Arms, abdomen, and back are also affected in rare cases.


  • Tingling or prickling, “pins-and-needles” sensation
  • Numbness (which may become permanent)
  • Burning sensation
  • Sharp pain

When your blood sugar levels are under control, your early symptoms usually subside. There are medications available to help with the pain and discomfort.

What you should do:

  • Check your feet and legs daily.
  • If your feet are dry, apply lotion to them.
  • Take good care of your toenails. Check with your doctor to see if you should see a podiatrist.
  • Wear well-fitted, comfortable shoes. Wear them all the time to keep your feet protected from any injury.

2. Autonomic Neuropathy

This type of diabetic nerve pain primarily affects the digestive tract — particularly the stomach. It can also cause damage to the blood vessels, the urinary tract, and reproductive organs.

Autonomic Neuropathy In the Digestive tract:


  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Burning pain or discomfort in the chest
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling stuffed after small meals (early satiety)

What you should do:

Eat smaller meals and take medication as prescribed by your doctor.

Autonomic Neuropathy In Blood Vessels:


  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Dizzy spells when you stand up too quickly (Orthostatic hypotension or postural hypotension)
  • Fast heart rate (tachycardia)   
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Feeling stuffed after small meals (early satiety)

What you should do:

Don’t stand up too quickly. Your doctor may recommend you use compression stockings and take medication.

Autonomic Neuropathy In the Urinary Tract:


  • Trouble emptying the bladder (urinary retention)
  • Bloating
  • Overactive bladder (urge incontinence)

What you should do:

Your doctor may recommend medications and self-catheterization, where you insert a thin, hollow tube called a catheter into the bladder through the urethra. In some extreme cases, surgery may be required.

Autonomic Neuropathy In the Reproductive Organs:


Men may develop erectile dysfunction (also known as impotence), which is the inability to get or keep an erection. They may also have “dry” or reduced ejaculations.

On the other hand, women may have decreased vaginal lubrication (vaginal dryness) and fewer or no orgasms.

What you should do:

If you are a man, consult your doctor because there may be other causes besides diabetes. Counseling, penile implant/prosthesis, penile injection therapy, vacuum constriction device (VCD), and/or medications can all be a part of the treatment.

If you are a woman, Your doctor may recommend you to use vaginal estrogens, suppositories, rings, and medications to make sex less painful.

3. Proximal Neuropathy

This type of diabetic nerve pain causes sharp pain in the thighs, hips, or buttocks (usually on one side). It can also result in weakness in the legs.

Most people with proximal neuropathy need treatment to manage their symptoms. Treatment options may include medication, physical therapy, or a combination of both.

4. Focal Neuropathy

This type of diabetic nerve pain can strike unexpectedly and damage specific nerves, most commonly in the head, chest, or legs. It usually results in muscle weakness and fatigue.


  • Double vision (diplopia)
  • Eye pain
  • Facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy)  
  • Sharp pain in the lower back or legs
  • Chest or abdominal pain that is commonly mistaken as a myocardial infarction or appendicitis

What you should do:

Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. Focal neuropathy can be excruciatingly painful and unpredictable. However, it usually improves on its own after a few weeks or months — and it generally does not leave a long-term effect on your health.

If you suspect you have diabetic nerve pain, contact Renovaire Pain Care as quickly as possible. We provide residents of Katy, TX, with effective treatment interventions for neuropathy. Call us at 281-768-4122 or write to us at to schedule a consultation with our neuropathy experts and be on your way to living life again!