Peripheral Neuropathy Linked With Prediabetes

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In prediabetics with neuropathic pain, exercise reduces neuropathic pain and increases the intradermal nerve fibers in the thigh and ankle.
In prediabetics with neuropathic pain, exercise reduces neuropathic pain and increases the intradermal nerve fibers in the thigh and ankle.

Peripheral neuropathy may be more common in patients with prediabetes than previously thought, and early interventions may be warranted in this patient population, according to researchers from the University of Utah. 

Currently, 86 million adults — more than one in three U.S. adults — have prediabetes, according to a CDC estimates. Without weight loss and moderate physical activity, 15% to 30% of these people will develop full-blown type 2 diabetes within 5 years.1

These numbers emphasize the urgent need to treat and prevent the subsequent complications, including neuropathy, associated with prediabetes.

Fortunately, researchers are on their way to learning more about the relationship between prediabetes and peripheral neuropathy.

“We know now a lot more than we did 3 or 5 years ago about neuropathic pain in patients with prediabetes. Neuropathy affects patients with prediabetes in a continuum,” said Rob Singleton, MD, who is a professor of neurology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. “We think it is more obesity and dysfunction of lipids that is causing the problem.”

Singleton and his team have been studying peripheral neuropathy associated with early diabetes and metabolic syndrome as well as what treatments may work best. Through their research, they have found that many patients with metabolic syndrome have prediabetes and peripheral neuropathy. Therefore, a multi-pronged approach to managing these patients is essential.

“We have shown that, in prediabetics with neuropathic pain, exercise reduces neuropathic pain and increases the intradermal nerve fibers in the thigh and ankle. We are in the process now of replicating that study,” Singleton said in an interview with Clinical Pain Advisor. “You need to improve lipid function and glucose levels. So, lifestyle issues have to be addressed.”

Relationship Between Peripheral Neuropathy, Prediabetes

Although many questions remain, new studies evaluating the link between prediabetes and peripheral neuropathy are filling in some of the gaps in knowledge.

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