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Can You Have Diabetic Neuropathy Without Having Diabetes?

Diabetic neuropathy refers to a condition where nerves all over the body are damaged as a result of uncontrolled diabetes.(1)

Can You Have Diabetic Neuropathy Without Having Diabetes?

It is not really possible to have diabetic neuropathy without having diabetes, as that is the whole essence of the term “diabetic neuropathy”- it is caused due to uncontrolled high levels of glucose in the blood, which damages the nerves. However, it is possible that one may not be aware that he is having diabetes and start having some unusual symptoms which may be suggestive of diabetic neuropathy. on examination and tests, it is then diagnosed that the person is suffering from diabetes and hence, the development of symptoms of diabetic neuropathy.(2)

Researchers emphasize that long durations of uncontrolled diabetes may lead to damage to the nerves and the affected nerves thus lose the ability to send signals to the brain and the organs fail to function as they should. This leads to diabetic neuropathy. also, uncontrolled high blood sugar can lead to damage to the walls of the capillaries, which are the tiny blood vessels that supply the nerves with nutrients and oxygen.(1)

However, apart from this, there are many other factors which can together lead to diabetic neuropathy. these may include-

Nerve Inflammation-

  • This condition is caused due to an autoimmune response triggered by your own immune system.
  • The immune system mistakenly recognizes nerves as foreign bodies and starts targeting, attacking and destroying them, leading to diabetic neuropathy
  • Genetic Aspects- These factors may not be related to diabetes; however, they may put you at an increased risk of developing diabetic neuropathy
  • Smoking And Alcohol– Both these habits damage your nerves and blood vessels leading to a significantly high risk of getting an infection and diabetic neuropathy.

Complications Of Diabetic Neuropathy- Diabetic neuropathy can lead to several serious complications, which may comprise of-

Loss Of A Leg, Foot Or A Toe- Severe nerve damage can lead to numbness in the leg, foot or toe. Minor foot sores can also turn into severe ulcers and the infection may spread to the bones, causing tissue death or gangrene. There may be a need to remove your toe, foot or even leg (amputation).(1)

Joint Damage- There may be damage to the joints due to nerve damage. This condition is known as Charcot joint. It can lead to a serious deformity.(1)

Urinary Problems- If the nerves that control the bladder are damaged, you may face problems like inability to empty the bladder, inability to feel the urge to urinate, inability to control the urge to urinate, leading to leakage or urinary incontinence, urinary infections due to urine hold up, etc.(1)

Not Knowing Hypoglycaemia- Due to autonomic neuropathy, you may not feel if you get hypoglycemia, which may lead to serious complications.(1)

Blood Pressure Problems- Autonomic nervous system consists of the nerves that control involuntary functions in your body, such as controlling blood pressure. This may not happen when there is autonomic diabetic neuropathy, as these nerves get damaged.(1)

Problems Related To Digestion- There may be severe digestive problems if the diabetic neuropathy damages the nerves controlling these functions.(1)

Sexual Problems- Autonomic diabetic neuropathy leads to damage to the nerves that control sex organs. Men may suffer from problems like erectile dysfunction while women may suffer from vaginal dryness and arousal problems.(1)

Sweating Problems- Autonomic diabetic neuropathy causes damage to the nerves controlling sweat glands. This may lead to too much or too little sweating.(1)


Diabetic neuropathy is a serious complication that occurs as a result of uncontrolled diabetes. Hence, it cannot occur without diabetes, though it may be possible that one is unaware of his diabetes until the neuropathy is diagnosed.


Also Read:

Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Sheetal DeCaria, M.D.
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Sheetal DeCaria, M.D. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:August 17, 2019

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