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Idiopathic Neuropathy May Be the First Indication of Prediabetes

Patients who present with idiopathic neuropathy may in fact be experiencing the first signs of impaired glucose tolerance (IGT or “prediabetes”).

In a recent study that compared the association between peripheral neuropathy and prediabetes, findings suggested that electrophysiologic features were similar between patients with diagnosed diabetic neuropathy (DN) and those with prediabetes.
In the research, 67 patients enrolled in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded Impaired Glucose Tolerance Neuropathy (IGTN) Study underwent nerve conductions studies as well as a series of other electrodiagnostic neuropathy testing. These patients were compared to 52 patients with diabetic neuropathy and 42 with diabetes but no neuropathy who are participating in another NIH funded study. The findings showed that the electrophysiologic characteristics were similar between the IGTN and DN patients.

All of the prediabetic patients presented initially with numbness, pain, tingling or a burning sensation in the feet and, at times, also in the fingers. According to researcher, Dr. A. Gordon Smith of the University of Utah, “The neuropathy in patients with IGTN looks the similar to the neuropathy of those patients with diagnosed diabetes mellitus. Awareness of the symptoms and electrophysiologic similarities can lead to early diagnosis and treatment for prediabetes, which we hope will result in improved neuropathy symptoms.”

The full research results will be reported at the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine (AANEM) 52nd Annual Scientific Meeting in Monterey, California, September 21-25.

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