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Diabetic Polyneuropathy: Buy a Bike and Mind Your Health

Diabetic PolyneuropathyA disorder that involves nerves affection may be a long-term complication of the diabetes and is known as diabetic polyneuropathy. It causes the total destruction of the nervous system, including central, automatic and peripheral nerves. It is significant for the ulcers which usually appear on the feet.

The leading cause of polyneuropathy that occur in developed countries is diabetes. It is the case that is said to be the greatest source of mortality in diabetic patients.


A disease may be a result of microvascular injury that badly influences the small blood vessels, which, in their turn, have to supply nerves. However, physicians distinguish four major factors which lead to diabetic neuropathy occurrence.

Microvascular disease is the number one reason for the neural and vascular diseases are closely connected and intertwined. It is explained by the fact that blood vessels depend much on the normal function of nerves and the latter is much dependant on the blood flow. The initial change of vascular abnormality realizes in membrane thickening of capillary basement. Thus, this may happen early in diabetes and may be followed by the neural dysfunction and functional clinical changes in the whole organism.

Elevated levels of glucose cause a protein bonding that affects the their structure and proper functioning.

Protein kinase C (PKC) is the other pathology of neuropathy which is known for PKC activation which is triggered by the increased levels of glucose.

Polyol pathway is knows as sorbito or aldose reductase pathway. It is followed by the microvascular damage which is caused to nervous tissues, kidneys and retina. Glucose, which is an active compound, in the human organism either metabolizes or is looking for the tissues with which to react. Among the cells of the body only those of retina, kidneys and nerves do not require insulin for glucose. However, there is an interchange of glucose from the cell’s inside to outside that does not depend on the insulin. Under the normal state, glucose is used by the cells for energy and the one that is not used is easily converted into sorbitol while entering the polyol pathways. If the level of the blood glucose is normal, such interchange will cause no trouble. However, in hyperglycemic state the sorbitol can not cross the membranes of the cells and create osmotic stresses while drawing water in them. Thus it can easily cause the cell damage.


The disease affects all peripheral nerves, influencing all the organs and systems which are in close connection. Depending on the organ systems influence, there are autonomic and sensorimotor neuropathies as well as some other combinations. Symptoms of this or that neuropathy are gradually developing over the longer period of time and may include the following:

  • diarrhea and excessive urination which may become the result of bladder control loss
  • numbness or extreme sensation to a part of the body
  • vision changes and drooping facial expression
  • fatigue and muscle weakness or muscle contraction
  • difficulty in swallowing
  • electric pain or burning pain

Sensorimotor polyneuropathy occurs due to the fact that the degree of fiber affection depends on the length of the fibers. By this, longer fibers are affected more in comparison to the shorter ones. If this syndrome occurs, firstly in toes and then in the upper part of the leg the person experiences the decrease in sensation and loss of reflexes. Other fact to distinguish this syndrome from the others are pain that occurs at nights, numbness, dysesthesia, sensory loss, etc. The pain itself may be of the different nature – from dull to achy, pricking or burning, but every time with needles and pins sensation. Not properly felt, human’s feet may be stepped on the somebody’s feet without recognition of the fact. Moreover, infections and ulcers are typical to appear on the feet and legs that results in most cases in the leg amputation. Occurring not only in feet, but as well in hands, the disease makes it look more skeletal like and gaunt. It is a progressive syndrome that requires immediate actions.

Autonomic neuropathy is a syndrome that affects the nerves all over the body of the human. It may easily influence heart, blood vessels, lungs, bones, sweat glands, genitourinary and gastrointestinal systems, etc. The most recognizable dysfunctions of the syndrome are fainting and hypotension when a person stands up. In the body of diabetic the heart and arteries can not adjust the heart and vascular tone to fully and permanently flow to the brain. Thus, normal breathing is accompanied by a change in the rate of the heart.

Cranial neuropathy is a syndrome in which the greatest impact is made on the cranial nerves. It is all about the eye affection that is followed by the difficulty in the eye movements, constricting pupils and eyelids.                    

Polyneuropathy is the most common type of diabetic neuropathy. It involves the feet and it is significant for the gradual inflammation ascending from the toes to the knees. Not only legs, but hands can get affected in polyneuropathy. The particular sigh of it is numbness that worsens at night. Among the other symptoms are the coldness of the feet and burning feeling. The affected parts of the body are extremely sensitive to any touches, including the one of the bedclothes which is said to be more than unpleasant. Moreover, the colour of them is different from the usual – it is either paler or significantly red.

Facts to consider

The prevalence of polyneuropathy in diabetes patients is said to make 20%.  It results in 50-75% nontraumatic amputations of the legs. The main reason for the disease to occur is hyperglycemia that is typical of the people with the excessive level of glucose in their blood. The slow flow of the blood makes it nearly impossible to govern the movements of the arms and legs. According to DCCT, the number of annual incidents of polyneuropathy has fallen due to the intensive treatment of Type 1 diabetes. Among the main risk factors are age, smoking habits, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, etc.

Thus, riding bicycles in order to move the legs is said to be a preventive means that in combination with daily exercises helps to take over the symptoms of the disease.

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