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Diabetic Neuropathy vs. Peripheral Artery Disease

Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Sometimes, patients do not understand why their legs or feet constantly hurt. They think it is due to a lot of physical activity or uncomfortable shoes. However, it could be diabetes. So, for example, against the background of diabetes, the patient may experience pain in the foot, cramps, or numbness. It could be diabetic neuropathy.

Another cause of leg pain may be peripheral artery disease. In this case, the patient may also feel pain and discomfort in the leg.

In addition to pain in the legs, these conditions can cause other unpleasant symptoms. Their common cause may be diabetes. High sugar levels can cause weakness in the legs and arms. Thus, these diseases are similar and have similar symptoms. But there are also differences between them that you need to be aware of.

In this article, we will talk about peripheral artery disease and diabetic neuropathy. Also, we will look at the common and different features between these two states.

 

What is Diabetic Neuropathy?

Diabetic neuropathy is a type of nerve damage that can most often occur with diabetes. An attack of high blood sugar can damage the nerves that run throughout the patient’s body. This condition usually damages the nerves in the legs and feet. So, the most popular diabetic neuropathy symptoms are pain and numbness in the legs and feet.

diabetic neuropathy affects hand

Diabetic neuropathy has four types such as:

  • Peripheral neuropathy;
  • Autonomic neuropathy;
  • Proximal neuropathy (diabetic polyradiculopathy);
  • Mononeuropathy (focal neuropathy).

 

Patients who have diabetes may have one or more types of neuropathy. The symptoms of this problem depend on the type of neuropathy and the affected nerves. Usually, symptoms develop slowly. Some patients do not notice the neuropathy symptoms until severe nerve damage occurs.

Diabetic neuropathy is a severe complication of diabetes. So, it affects about half of the patients who have diabetes. Patients can prevent diabetic neuropathy or slow its development. To do it, you need to constantly control the level of sugar and lead a healthy lifestyle.

For some people, diabetic neuropathy may not be a significant problem. But other patients may experience severe consequences from this condition. So, it can be severe pain or even disability.

 

Diabetic Neuropathy Symptoms

Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy depend on the affected nerves. So, symptoms can be:

  • Pain or numbness in the legs and arms;
  • Digestive problems;
  • Violation of the urinary system;
  • Problems with the cardiovascular system;
  • Numbness or decreased ability to feel pain;
  • Temperature changes;
  • The feeling of tingling or burning;
  • Sharp pains or cramps;
  • Muscle weakness;
  • Extreme sensitivity to touch;
  • Serious foot problems such as ulcers, infections, bone, and joint damage;
  • Drop in blood pressure when standing up from a sitting or lying position;
  • Bladder or bowel problems;
  • Slow emptying of the stomach;
  • Difficulty swallowing;
  • Changes in the adjustment of the eyes from light to dark or from far to near;
  • Increased or decreased sweating;
  • Problems with sexual response.

 

What is Peripheral Artery Disease?

Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) of the legs or lower extremities is a narrowing or blockage of the vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs. It usually occurs due to the accumulation of fatty plaques in the arteries. Peripheral artery disease can be in any blood vessel. However, it usually appears in the legs.

peripheral artery disease affects foot

Risk factors for developing PAD are:

  • Smoking;
  • Hypertension;
  • Atherosclerosis;
  • Diabetes;
  • High cholesterol;
  • Elderly age.

Both genders are equally likely to have PAD. In the US, about 6.5 million people aged 40 have PAD. PAD patients have a high risk of coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, heart attack, or stroke.

 

Early Signs of Peripheral Artery Disease

One of the main symptoms of PAD is a pain in the legs during physical activity. So, most often, patients can notice it at the time of walking. This pain disappears during rest. But not every PAD patient has leg pain. Other symptoms may be:

  • Pain, aches, or cramps when hot in the buttocks, hips, thighs, or calves;
  • Muscular atrophy of the leg;
  • Loss of hair on the leg;
  • The skin on the sore leg becomes smooth and shiny;
  • The leg becomes cool;
  • Decreased pulse in the legs;
  • Wounds or sores on the legs or feet that do not heal;
  • Cold or numb toes.

 

Difference Between Diabetic Neuropathy and PAD

The main difference between peripheral neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease is that PAD affects the arteries, while diabetic neuropathy affects the nervous system. However, PAD and neuropathy can have common causes like diabetes and similar symptoms. There is a strong connection between these diseases, and diabetes is often a common link. Therefore, people with diabetes or peripheral neuropathy should also examine the condition of the arteries and veins.

Such disorders are difficult to determine without the help of a doctor. It is because leg pain can have some other causes. Before consulting a doctor, it is worth keeping a diary. Write down your symptoms and their severity daily. It will help your doctor give you an accurate diagnosis.

 

Bottom Line 

Thus, we have considered such two conditions as peripheral artery disease and diabetic neuropathy. Also, we discussed what they have in common and their differences. If you or your relatives have diabetes, leg pain, cramps, or body weakness, you should consult a doctor. Such symptoms may indicate a future deterioration in the condition.

Our clinic daily helps a large number of patients in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological diseases of any complexity. We use the most modern equipment, and our team employs highly qualified specialists. We will help you diagnose your possible problems and cure them. Make an appointment with us right now by phone: 214-619-1910.

 

FAQs 

  • Is diabetic neuropathy the same as PAD?

No, these are two different diseases. But they can share a common cause of diabetes and also have the same symptoms.

  • Can peripheral artery disease cause neuropathy?

Some studies suggest that PAD may be associated with multifocal motor neuropathy. This type of neuropathy most likely has an ischemic etiology.

  • What is the life expectancy of someone with peripheral artery disease?

It is impossible to say how PAD affects a patient’s life expectancy unequivocally. However, within five years, one in five patients with PAD suffers from a heart attack, stroke, or death. But with proper treatment, you can try to avoid serious consequences for life.

  • What triggers diabetic neuropathy?

It is difficult to name the exact cause of diabetic neuropathy. But researchers speculate that it may be due to high blood sugar levels. It’s because hypertension damages nerves and interferes with signaling. It is also due to the fact that high sugar levels damage the walls of the capillaries that supply the nerves with oxygen and essential substances. Therefore, uncontrolled blood sugar levels can be considered the main cause of diabetic neuropathy.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been prepared.read more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well together.read more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your business.read more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any cookies.read more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going there.read more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my treatment.read more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to finish.read more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 stars.read more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his staff.read more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best treatment.read more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my doctor.read more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding solutions.read more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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