An older woman smiles as she jogs to ease symptoms of diabetic neuropathy


Diabetic neuropathy (DPN) is a common and debilitating complication of diabetes. This condition affects a majority of people with diabetes, causing significant pain and discomfort that can greatly impact a person’s range of motion. While the link between diabetes and nerve damage is well established, the exact diabetic neuropathy causes are still being studied.


At Pain and Spine Specialists, our team of experts is dedicated to understanding the underlying mechanisms of diabetic neuropathy and finding effective treatment options for nerve disorders. We have over twenty years of experience helping our patients manage their neuropathic pain with treatment options such as spinal cord stimulation and peripheral nerve stimulation. If you’re interested in learning more about diabetic neuropathy pathology, reach out to our Pain and Spine Specialists team online or call one of our offices in Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia today.


A doctor explains to her patient how to ease symptoms of diabetic neuropathy


Defining Diabetic Neuropathy

How does diabetes cause neuropathy? Diabetic neuropathy is a condition that stems from nerve damage caused by diabetes. It encompasses various forms, including the impactful painful diabetic neuropathy. This condition can significantly affect daily life, making it crucial to delve into its intricacies for a comprehensive understanding.

This condition specifically manifests as chronic pain, tingling, or numbness in the feet and hands, often leading to discomfort and reduced quality of life for individuals living with diabetes. Understanding the nuances of this manifestation is key to addressing its effects and providing necessary support and management strategies.

Further, recognizing the causes of peripheral neuropathy is pivotal in navigating the complexities of diabetic neuropathy. This condition causes damage to the nervous system, and peripheral neuropathy is frequently caused by diabetes. By comprehending the underlying factors contributing to peripheral neuropathy, individuals can better comprehend the impact of diabetic neuropathy on their overall well-being.

In essence, a deep understanding of diabetic peripheral neuropathy, including diabetic peripheral neuropathy causes, is crucial for effectively managing its effects and improving the quality of life for those affected.


An image of nerves inside the body


Diabetes and Nerve Damage

Diabetes and nerve damage stand as one of the leading diabetic neuropathy causes. This ongoing damage to the nerves can manifest in various forms, such as sensory, motor, or autonomic neuropathy, each presenting its own set of challenges.

The intricate interplay between diabetes and nerve damage underscores the urgency of proactive management and comprehensive understanding. As diabetes exerts its influence on the body’s intricate network of nerves, the potential for neuropathic complications looms large, emphasizing the paramount importance of maintaining optimal blood sugar levels and seeking early intervention to mitigate the risk of diabetic neuropathy.

Recognizing diabetes and nerve damage as pivotal factors in the genesis of diabetic neuropathy reinforces the need for a patient-centered, proactive approach to healthcare. By fostering awareness and understanding of these causative elements, individuals can take empowered steps in their health journey, working in tandem with healthcare professionals to preemptively address and manage the complexities of diabetic neuropathy.

A woman pricks her finger to check her blood sugar levels due to diabetic neuropathy


Nerve Fiber Damage

One of the primary ways diabetes causes nerve damage is by directly targeting the nerve fibers. This damage can cause disruptions in communication between the body and brain, resulting in a range of symptoms such as:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Burning Sensations
  • Muscle Weakness

Chronic inflammation has been identified as one of many DPN causes contributing to nerve fiber damage in diabetic neuropathy. As diabetes leads to increased levels of inflammatory markers in the body, peripheral nerves may become damaged over time. The resulting sensory and motor neuropathy can significantly impact an individual’s physical well-being, underlining the importance of addressing inflammation and its effects in diabetic neuropathy management.

A woman rubs her numb hands due to diabetic neuropathy

Vascular Factors

In the realm of diabetic neuropathy causes, vascular factors play a significant role in shaping the narrative of this intricate health condition. Understanding the impact of vascular complications on neuropathy is pivotal for individuals navigating the complexities of diabetes-related nerve damage.

Vascular factors, encompassing the health and functionality of blood vessels, wield influence over the progression and severity of painful diabetic neuropathy. Compromised blood flow due to vascular issues can exacerbate nerve damage, intensifying the symptoms and repercussions of diabetic neuropathy. This intricate interplay between vascular health and neuropathy underscores the interconnected nature of these physiological elements, necessitating a comprehensive approach to management and care.

Some of the impacts of poor blood circulation on nerve health include:

  • Reduced Oxygen and Nutrient Supply to the Nerves
  • Impaired Waste Removal from Nerve Tissues
  • Increased Susceptibility to Nerve Injury and Damage
  • Slowed Nerve Repair and Regeneration
  • Heightened Risk of Infection
  • Delayed Healing for Nerve-Related Wounds

Acknowledging the profound impacts of poor blood circulation on nerve health serves as a cornerstone in the holistic understanding of diabetic neuropathy. By spotlighting the intricate connections between vascular factors and neuropathic complications, individuals can cultivate informed decision-making and proactive strategies in their journey toward managing and mitigating the effects of painful diabetic neuropathy.

An image of red blood cells

Metabolic Diabetic Neuropathy Causes

Another of the many peripheral neuropathy causes is metabolic factors. Understanding the far-reaching impact of metabolic imbalance on nerve function is crucial for developing comprehensive awareness and proactive management strategies.

Metabolic imbalance refers to disruptions in the body’s metabolic processes, encompassing the regulation of glucose, lipids, and other essential nutrients. These imbalances can create significant effects on nerve health, serving as a precursor to the onset and progression of diabetic neuropathy. The interplay between metabolic factors and nerve function highlights the multifaceted nature of this condition, necessitating a nuanced approach to care and management.

Symptoms of metabolic imbalance are:

  • Fluctuations in Blood Sugar Levels
  • Persistent Fatigue and Lethargy
  • Unexplained Weight Changes
  • Increased Thirst and Frequent Urination
  • Digestive Issues and Abdominal Discomfort

The impact of metabolic imbalance on nerve function extends beyond symptomatic manifestations, influencing the susceptibility of nerves to damage and impairment. This underscores the urgent need for proactive measures to address metabolic imbalances, emphasizing the pivotal role of holistic healthcare practices in the context of diabetic neuropathy.

Further, the relationship between insulin resistance and nerve damage underscores the web of connections within the realm of diabetic neuropathy causes. Insulin resistance, a sign of metabolic imbalance, not only disrupts glucose regulation but also contributes to nerve damage.

By understanding the intricate connections between metabolic factors, nerve function, and insulin resistance, people can foster a deeper understanding of diabetic neuropathy, empowering them to make informed decisions and proactive strides toward better health.

A woman sits on her bed and holds her stomach from abdominal pain from diabetic neuropathy

Genetic Influences of Diabetic Neuropathy

Genetic influences play a significant role in shaping the complex landscape of diabetic neuropathy, shedding light on the intricate interplay between hereditary factors and the onset of this multifaceted condition. Understanding the impact of genetics on the susceptibility to diabetic neuropathy is paramount for individuals navigating the complexities of this health challenge.

Your genetic makeup can significantly influence your predisposition to diabetic neuropathy, underscoring the need for a comprehensive approach to understanding and managing this condition. The intergenerational transfer of genetic traits can contribute to the nuanced manifestation of diabetic neuropathy, highlighting the far-reaching implications of genetic influences on nerve health.

Research has shown that specific genetic variations can amplify the risk of developing diabetic neuropathy, providing valuable insights into the personalized nature of these diabetic neuropathy causes. By recognizing the profound impact of genetic influences on diabetic neuropathy, individuals can progress toward proactive management and tailored healthcare strategies.

An image of a DNA double helix

What Causes Neuropathy Besides Diabetes?

Are there causes of neuropathy other than diabetes? One of the primary peripheral neuropathy causes other than diabetes is environmental factors.

Environmental factors encompass a broad spectrum of influences that can significantly impact the progression of neuropathic pain, particularly diabetic neuropathy. Understanding the role of environmental triggers is crucial for individuals beginning to heal this condition, empowering them to make informed decisions about their health.

Factors that contribute to peripheral neuropathy not caused by diabetes include:

    • Prolonged exposure to high levels of air pollution
    • Occupational hazards, such as exposure to chemicals or toxins
    • Lifestyle factors, including smoking and excessive alcohol consumption
    • Poorly managed or untreated prolonged periods of hyperglycemia
    • Nutritional deficiencies and imbalances

By recognizing the profound impact of environmental factors on neuropathic pain, individuals can cultivate a deeper awareness of the multifaceted nature of diabetic neuropathy, laying the groundwork for a patient-centered approach to managing and mitigating the effects of this complex condition.

An older couple smiles at each other as they jog on a nature trail to mitigate the effects of diabetic neuropathy

Overcome Diabetic Neuropathy Causes at Pain and Spine Specialists

Our team at Pain and Spine Specialists is dedicated to helping individuals navigate the complexities of diabetic neuropathy, providing comprehensive treatment options and management strategies tailored to each patient’s unique needs. We understand the causes of diabetic neuropathy and how this can significantly impact a person’s life, causing hand pain or foot pain and reduced range of motion.

Find out more about diabetic neuropathy treatment options for our Pain and Spine Specialists team by scheduling an appointment online or calling us today. We are committed to empowering our patients with a holistic, patient-centered approach to understanding and managing diabetic neuropathy.

Helpful Resources Related To Article

Explore treatment options and pain conditions related to neuropathy.

Treatment Options


Peripheral Nerve Stimulation



Lumbar Sympathetic Block



Medication Management



Intrathecal Pumps



Spinal Cord Stimulation


Affected Pain Regions


Leg Pain


Foot Pain


Hand Pain


Arm Pain

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