What is neuropathy? Diabetic neuropathy is nerve damage caused by diabetes. It can affect almost any part of your body. The main cause is long exposure to high levels of blood sugar. The longer you have diabetes, the more likely you are to have neuropathy. With time, high blood sugar can damage the blood vessels that supply your nerves. The nerves become inflamed. As a result, you may experience diabetic neuropathy symptoms like weakness and numbness. This can lead to injuries and infection. In turn, that can damage your nerves even more. Diabetic neuropathy complications can affect your body in different ways because there are several types of diabetic neuropathy. The effects of diabetic neuropathy depend on what part of the body is involved. Peripheral Neuropathy This type of neuropathy damages nerves supplying your toes, feet, legs, arms and hands. It can cause you to develop diabetic nerve pain. The effects of diabetic neuropathy when it involves these nerves may include: Abnormal sensations like burning, tingling or numbness Increased sensation, even to light touching Loss of balance and trouble walking Loss of feeling in the toes, feet, legs, arms and hands Pain, especially burning pain and shooting pain Ulcers or sores Weakness and loss of muscle mass With time, peripheral neuropathy can cause changes in your feet. The arch of your foot may collapse and your toes may bend. Infection in your feet and loss of blood supply can cause the tissue in your toes or feet to die. Severe cases can require amputation. Autonomic Neuropathy Autonomic neuropathy affects nerves in parts of your body that function automatically. These are the nerves that control things like digesting food, breathing, your heartbeat, sweating, sexual ability, and bowel and bladder functions. Effects of autonomic diabetic neuropathy may include: Abnormal heart and blood pressure regulation, which may cause dizziness when standing or a rapid heartbeat Abnormal sweating, especially at night and when eating Constipation or diarrhea Leaking of urine Loss of the ability to have an erection in men Loss of sexual sensation in women Low blood sugar—or hypoglycemia—causes you to feel shaky, weak, nervous and lightheaded. These symptoms are an important warning that you need sugar. Poor reaction of your pupils, which may cause difficulty seeing at night Slow emptying of the bladder, resulting in more frequent urinary tract infections Slowed digestion, which can cause bloating, nausea or vomiting When you have autonomic neuropathy, you might not feel these warning symptoms. Other Types of Diabetic Neuropathy Other types of diabetic neuropathy can affect your body in different ways. These include: Cranial neuropathy. This is damage to the nerves that run from your brain to your face and eye. Eye neuropathy can cause eye pain. You also may have double or blurred vision. Facial nerve damage may cause drooping on one side of your face. This condition is Bell’s palsy. Neuropathic arthropathy (also called Charcot joint). This is damage to nerves that supply a joint. It causes you to lose feeling in the joint. Muscle weakness may lead to more injury. With time, the joint collapses and causes disability. This type of neuropathy is common in the foot. Proximal neuropathy. This is damage to the group of nerves that supply your thighs, buttocks and hips. It usually occurs on one side. It causes both weakness and pain. This can make it hard to get up from a sitting position. This type of neuropathy is most common among elderly people with diabetes.