Peripheral neuropathy, a result of damage to your peripheral nerves, often causes weakness, numbness and pain, usually in your hands and feet. It can also affect other areas of your body.
Your peripheral nervous system sends information from your brain and spinal cord (central nervous system) to the rest of your body. Peripheral neuropathy can result from traumatic injuries, infections, metabolic problems, inherited causes and exposure to toxins. One of the most common causes is diabetes mellitus.
People with peripheral neuropathy generally describe the pain as stabbing or burning. Often, there’s tingling. In many cases, symptoms improve, especially if caused by a treatable underlying condition. Medications can reduce the pain of peripheral neuropathy.
IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS CONCERNED ABOUT HAVING PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY, PLEASE INQUIRE ABOUT SCHEDULING A NEUROLOGICAL EVALUATION.
Exposure to poisons.
Trauma or pressure on the nerve.
Bone marrow disorders.
Evaluation and testing
Your doctor may check your tendon reflexes, your muscle strength and tone, your ability to feel certain sensations, and your posture and coordination.
CT or MRI scans can look for herniated disks, tumors or other abnormalities.
Nerve function tests
Electromyography, a nerve function test, records electrical activity in your muscles to determine if your symptoms, including weakness, are caused by muscle or nerve damage.
For nerve conduction studies, a probe sends electrical signals to a nerve, and an electrode placed along the nerve’s pathway records the nerve’s response to the signals. Nerve conduction studies record signals from both motor and sensory nerves.
Other nerve function tests
These may include an autonomic reflex screen that records how the autonomic nerve fibers work, a sweat test that records how you sweat, and sensory tests that record how you feel touch, vibration, cooling and heat.
Nerve biopsy. Your doctor may recommend removing a small portion of a nerve, usually a sensory nerve, to examine for abnormalities to determine the cause of your nerve damage.
Skin biopsy. Your doctor removes a small portion of skin to examine the number of nerve endings. A reduction in nerve endings indicates neuropathy.