Loss of sensation and increased sensory phenomena are major expressions of varieties of diabetic polyneuropathies needing improved assessments for clinical and research purposes. We provide a neurobiological explanation for the apparent paradox between decreased sensation and increased sensory phenomena. Strongly endorsed is the use of the 10-g monofilaments for screening of feet to detect sensation loss, with the goal of improving diabetic management and prevention of foot ulcers and neurogenic arthropathy. We describe improved methods to assess for the kind, severity, and distribution of both large- and small-fiber sensory loss and which approaches and techniques may be useful for conducting therapeutic trials. The abnormality of attributes of nerve conduction may be used to validate the dysfunction of large sensory fibers. The abnormality of epidermal nerve fibers/1 mm may be used as a surrogate measure of small-fiber sensory loss but appear not to correlate closely with severity of pain. Increased sensory phenomena are recognized by the characteristic words patients use to describe them and by the severity and persistence of these symptoms. Tests of tactile and thermal hyperalgesia are additional markers of neural hyperactivity that are useful for diagnosis and disease management.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism