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Clinical observations and experiments in diabetic neuropathy

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Diabetic neuropathies form a group of diverse conditions, which can be distinguished between those which recover (acute painful neuropathies, radiculopathies, mononeuropathies) and those which progress (sensory and autonomic neuropathies). These two main groups can be distinguished in several ways: sensory and autonomic neuropathies are classic diabetic complications progressing gradually in patients with long-standing diabetes who often have other specific complications, while the reversible neuropathies do not have these features. The latter are characterised by their occurrence at any stage of diabetes, often at diagnosis, they may be precipitated on starting insulin treatment, and they are more common in men; they can occur at any age, though more often in older patients, and are unrelated to other diabetic complications. The two groups of neuropathies also show differences in nerve structural abnormalities and with regard to distinctive blood flow responses. The underlying mechanisms responsible for these very different forms of neuropathy remain speculative, but evidence for an immunological basis for the development of severe symptomatic autonomic neuropathy is presented.


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Watkins, P.J. Clinical observations and experiments in diabetic neuropathy. Diabetologia 35, 2–11 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00400845

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Key words

  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • autonomic neuropathy
  • painful neuropathy
  • mononeuropathy
  • blood flow
  • nerve biopsies