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Damage of small nerve fibers in diabetes

Small nerve fibers are easily damaged by high blood sugar.

Some of the sensory nerve fibres supplying the skin are small nerve fibres. Their task is to send information to the brain about pain, temperature differences, etc.

A temporary, acute and painful damage to the small nerve fibres sometimes occurs when chronically high blood sugar is corrected over a short period of time. The same can also happen in people who have recently been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

Symptoms of damage in small nerve fibers

The most common symptom is a burning pain in the lower limbs and feet. Other potential symptoms include stinging, sharp pain, numbness, cold sensations, itchiness, tingling and extreme sensitivity to pain. The weight of a duvet or the touch of a sock against the skin on the leg may feel unbearably painful. Often, the symptoms are exaggerated at rest.

Diagnosing damage in small nerve fibers

In the case of damage to the small fibres, the result of neurological sensory testing performed by a doctor can be perfectly normal. The diagnosis of damage to small nerve fibres is based on typical symptoms and ruling out other causes.

In some cases, thermal threshold testing can be done as a further examination.

Updated 30.9.2023