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Clin Cornerstone. 2003;5(2):38-55.

Management of neuropathy and foot problems in diabetic patients.

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  • Strelitz Diabetes Institutes, Departments of Internal Medicine and Pathology/Neurobiology, Eastern Virginia Medical School, 855 W Brambleton Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23510, USA. vinikai@EVMS.EDU


Diabetic neuropathy (DN) is a complex set of clinical syndromes that affect distinct regions of the nervous system, either singly or combined. DN is the most common form of neuropathy in the developed countries of the world and is responsible for 50% to 75% of nontraumatic amputations. It is also the most life damaging--once autonomic neuropathy sets in, the mortality rate approximates 25% to 50% within 5 to 10 years. Distal symmetric polyneuropathy, the most common form of DN, usually involves both small and large nerve fiber damage. Small nerve fiber neuropathies occur early and are often present without objective signs or electrophysiologic evidence of nerve damage. The greatest risk is foot ulceration and subsequent gangrene. Large nerve fiber neuropathies, which involve the sensory and motor nerves, are generally neuropathies of signs rather than symptoms. Clinical presentation usually includes a "glove and stocking" distribution of sensory loss and the greatest risk is Charcot's neuroarthropathy. Diagnosis of DN relies heavily on a careful patient history and physical examination. Most critical is that both the patient and the patient's shoes should be examined and corrective measures taken. Several studies have shown that good diabetes control can significantly reduce neuropathy. As new drugs and ways to enhance nerve blood flow and block pain pathways at different levels are being explored, the effective treatment of DN and the reduction of its impact on quality of life as well as mortality will become a reality. Patient education and preventive strategies, however, are still the best ways to treat the complications of neuropathy and reduce the amputation rate.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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