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Sensation Tests

June 21, 2019

When you go to see your doctor or your nurse, your nurse practitioner, there’s a whole variety of tests that they might do to check on you. But the stuff to do that can identify risk is, thank goodness, really simple. So let’s first talk about sensation. One of the things that they’ll do is they may check your sensation with something called a monofilament. It looks like a piece of fishing line that you might put on the skin that bends at a certain amount of force and that can tell whether you have so called loss of protective sensation. So in addition to using that wire, another thing that the doctor might do is use a certain kind of vibration test, like a tuning fork or a fancier device that looks like a hairdryer where they might turn up the volume on the thing and it actually can vibrate a little bit more. That’s called the vibration perception threshold device. And that can give the doctor or nurse some good information about your degree of sensation. Rarely, they might send you off for special tests like a so-called nerve conduction velocity or other tests like that, but those are rarely performed on someone with diabetes. Still even more rarely are tests where they might take a biopsy of your skin to look under a microscope, to look at the number of little baby nerve fibrils up in there, and to see what the overall population of those are. But the good news about this stuff is it can be done rather rapidly with a lot of low tech and high touch kind of assessment.

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