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INTRODUCTION/AIMS: Patients with diabetic polyneuropathy (DPN) may experience paresthesia, dysesthesia, and pain. We aimed to characterize the predictors, symptoms, somatosensory profile, neuropathy severity, and impact of painful DPN and dysesthetic DPN. METHODS: This study was a cross-sectional study of type 2 diabetes patients with confirmed DPN, diagnosed using widely accepted methods including a clinical examination, skin biopsy, and nerve conduction studies. FINDINGS: Of 126 patients with confirmed DPN, 52 had DPN without pain or dysesthesia, 21 had dysesthetic DPN, and 53 painful DPN. Patients with painful DPN were less physically active and suffered from more pain elsewhere than in the feet compared to patients with DPN without pain. Patients with painful DPN had the largest loss of small and large sensory fiber function, and there was a gradient of larger spatial distribution of sensory loss from DPN without dysesthesia/pain to dysesthetic DPN and to painful DPN. This could indicate that patients with dysesthesia had more severe neuropathy than patients without dysesthesia but less than patients with painful DPN. Patients with dysesthetic and painful DPN had higher symptom scores for depression and fatigue than those without dysesthesia/pain with no difference between dysesthetic and painful DPN. CONCLUSIONS: There was a gradient of increasing sensory loss from DPN without dysesthesia/pain to dysesthetic DPN and to painful DPN. Pain and dysesthesia are common in DPN and both interfere with daily life. It is therefore important to consider dysesthesia when diagnosing and treating patients with neuropathy.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Aged, Case-Control Studies, Cross-Sectional Studies, Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2, Diabetic Neuropathies, Female, Humans, Male, Neuralgia, Neurologic Examination, Paresthesia, Sensation, Surveys and Questionnaires