2. Neuropathy remains unnoticed in the majority?

If a diabetes patient has nerve damage, treatment can keep the problem from getting worse. Unfortunately, some patients don't even know they have nerve damage. A team of German researchers recently studied a group of patients with diabetes or prediabetes and distal sensorimotor polyneuropathy (DSPN) – a condition in which both nerves that provide feeling and those that control movement become damaged. These researchers found that the vast majority of these patients were unaware they had DSPN.

For this study, Dr. Bongaerts and colleagues identified people with diabetes or prediabetes from a population of older adults aged 61 to 82 years. Diabetes or prediabetes was determined by oral glucose tolerance test – a measure of how quickly the body clears sugar from the blood.

The researchers then determined which patients had DSPN as defined by impaired foot-vibration perception (reduced ability to feel vibrations on the feet) and impaired foot-pressure sensation (reduced ability to feel pressure on the feet). Participants with prediabetes had the highest rate of DSPN, at 23.9 percent. Of these patients, 10 out of 11 (91 percent) did not know they had DSPN. The study showed that many patients with diabetes or prediabetes did not know they had this serious disorder, so foot exams are really important in diabetes treatment.

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