About This Condition
If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you are at increased risk for developing nerve damage, or neuropathy. Some types of diabetic neuropathy can cause chronic pain and others can lead to foot ulcers that may ultimately require amputation. Managing your diabetes, especially if you have type 1 diabetes, can help to prevent neuropathy, and early diagnosis and intervention may slow its progression.1
Certain chemotherapy medications used to treat cancer commonly cause temporary or permanent neuropathy. You can work with your doctor to take steps to reduce the risk of developing chemotherapy-related neuropathy or to manage the condition if you already have it.2
The symptoms of neuropathy are varied and depend upon the nerves involved and the type of nerve damage. For most people with diabetes, neuropathy involves the peripheral nerves and causes symptoms such as tingling, pain, loss of sensations, or weakness in the feet, spreading to the legs and eventually the fingers and arms.1 Peripheral neuropathy is the most common type of chemotherapy-induced neuropathy, and often causes pain severe enough to limit cancer treatment.2 Because it is the most common form of neuropathy, this article addresses only peripheral neuropathy.
Neuropathy can have many symptoms. The symptoms experienced will depend upon which nerves are affected, or damaged. Symptoms may include tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness in the feet, legs, and hands; delayed stomach emptying (gastroparesis), diarrhea, or constipation; bladder paralysis and urine retention; erectile dysfunction in men and vaginal dryness or lack of arousal in women; fainting, dizziness, or rapid heart rate; blurry vision, or difficulty with vision, such as the eyes not adjusting well to changing light conditions. For people receiving chemotherapy medications, the most common neuropathy symptoms include tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness in the feet, legs, and hands.3,4