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Loss of Fingertip Sensation Can Indicate Progression of Type 2 Diabetes

Researchers evaluated different measures of hand and finger function in type 2 diabetic patients….

Diabetic neuropathy affects many patients and involves all four limbs of the body. Approximately 90 percent of diabetic patients experience sensory symptoms. Dysfunction in motor skills affects approximately 77 percent of diabetic patients. Although there are many cases of sensory and motor skill dysfunction, many researchers focus on the lower extremities. Patients of any age group can experience diabetic neuropathy but it appears to be more common in people who have had diabetes for at least 25 years or more.

There have been many studies in the last few decades regarding the function of hand motor skills in diabetic patients. Many of the studies produced contradictory findings; some of the studies had issues with patient demographics. One study, comparing the motor skills of diabetic patients, used participants with a variety of different age groups. This study wanted to focus on one age group and an equal ratio of men to women.

This study tested ten adult individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus; the ages ranged from 60 to 67 years old. The participants included: five women and five men with an average hemogloblin A1c level of 7.8 percent + 2.1 percent. All of the participants were right-handed and had no previous trauma to the upper limbs. Participants with a history of neuropathy or other neurological disorders were excluded from this study. Researchers noticed that the participants exhibited sensory dysfunction and altered kinetic output. Other results included inconsistent differences in clinically-validated timed performance tasks as compared with non-diabetic adults of the same age group. Sensory dysfunction and some timed evaluations were associated with disease severity. The researchers concluded that none of the recorded measures were related to a clinical diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy.

In conclusion, researchers evaluated different measures of hand and finger function in type 2 diabetic patients. Disease severity was the most obvious factor that affected the hand/finger correlation.

Practice Pearls:
  • Signs and symptoms of neuropathy can range from temporary numbness to a burning pain to muscle wasting and paralysis.
  • Generally, foot problems due to diabetic neuropathy are due to a lack of blood circulation in that area.
  • Many believe that hand neuropathy is not as dangerous as foot neuropathy because it can be detected and treated more quickly.

Gorniak S, Khan A, Ochoa N, et. al. Detecting subtle fingertip sensory and motor dysfunction in adults with type II diabetes.

Experimental Brain Research. 2014 Apr. 232(4):1283-1291.