Purpose The present review highlights current concepts regarding the effects of diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN) in skeletal muscle. It discusses the lack of effective pharmacologic treatments and the role of physical exercise intervention in limb protection and symptom reversal. It also highlights the importance of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques in providing a mechanistic understanding of the disease and helping develop targeted treatments. Methods This review provides a comprehensive reporting on the effects of DPN in the skeletal muscle of patients with diabetes. It also provides an update on the most recent trials of exercise intervention targeting DPN pathology. Lastly, we report on emerging MRI techniques that have shown promise in providing a mechanistic understanding of DPN and can help improve the design and implementation of clinical trials in the future. Findings Impairments in lower limb muscles reduce functional capacity and contribute to altered gait, increased fall risk, and impaired balance in patients with DPN. This finding is an important concern for patients with DPN because their falls are likely to be injurious and lead to bone fractures, poorly healing wounds, and chronic infections that may require amputation. Preliminary studies have shown that moderate-intensity exercise programs are well tolerated by patients with DPN. They can improve their cardiorespiratory function and partially reverse some of the symptoms of DPN. MRI has the potential to bring new mechanistic insights into the effects of DPN as well as to objectively measure small changes in DPN pathology as a result of intervention. Implications Noninvasive exercise intervention is particularly valuable in DPN because of its safety, low cost, and potential to augment pharmacologic interventions. As we gain a better mechanistic understanding of the disease, more targeted and effective interventions can be designed.
- diabetic peripheral neuropathy
- exercise therapy
- skeletal muscle
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)