A physical examination together with a medical history is used by your doctor to assist in the diagnosis process. Physical examinations are great for the fact that they can be interpreted immediately. Physical examinations are not only reserved for patients experiencing symptoms but is also recommended as a way of ensuring your general health is good – you won't always notice symptoms when something is wrong. For example, your blood pressure may be high but you may not be experiencing any obvious symptoms.


Peripheral neuropathy (PN), or nerve damage of the extremities, is one of the most common complications of diabetes (60 percent of all people with the disease develop it at some point). Symptoms include burning, tingling, numbness, a prickly sensation (like "pins and needles"), and muscle weakness. Neuropathy is the result of chronically high blood sugars, so the best way to prevent it is to maintain good glucose control. To check for neuropathy, your doctor should perform a monofilament test a measure of the sensation in your feet at least annually. In this simple yet sensitive evaluation, the monofilament, which is a piece of plastic fiber resembling fishing line, is touched against various parts of the sole of your foot, and your ability to feel it at varying pressure is assessed. It is sometimes called the l0 gram monofilament test because the fiber is calibrated to bend to 10 grams of pressure. Your doctor may also use a tuning fork on the bottoms of your feet to see if you can sense the vibration. Nerve conduction studies or velocity tests, which use electrodes to stimulate nerves and then measure the resulting impulses, are a less frequently used, more sophisticated method of diagnosing some neuropathies. Electromyography (EMG), which uses thin needles inserted into the muscles to measure electrical impulses, may also be prescribed. These latter two tests can be painful, and may not be ordered unless there is some question about the diagnosis.


A nerve conduction study (NCS) is a test commonly used to evaluate the function, especially the ability of electrical conduction, of the motor and sensory nerves of the human body.


Ultrasound imaging, also called ultrasound scanning or sonography, involves the use of a small transducer (probe) and ultrasound gel to expose the body to high-frequency sound waves. Ultrasound is safe and painless, and produces pictures of the inside of the body using sound waves. Ultrasound examinations do not use ionizing radiation (as used in x-rays). Because ultrasound images are captured in real-time, they can show the structure and movement of the body's internal organs, as well as blood flowing through blood vessels.