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What is peripheral neuropathy?

The peripheral nervous system is a communication system within the body which involves the exchange of signals between the central nervous system, viz. brain and spinal cord, and other parts of the body. These signals may include sensory messages like cold hands, signals for muscle contraction which help in body movement, and others. Damage to the peripheral nervous system is called peripheral neuropathy.

What are its main signs and symptoms?

The signs and symptoms may vary based on which nerve is damaged.

  • Damage to the motor nerve
    It causes muscle cramps, muscle weakness, twitching and shrinking of the muscle.
  • Damage to the sensory nerve
    It causes an inability to feel sensations like touch, pain and temperature changes, and difficulty in motor coordination like walking, fastening buttons, etc.
  • Damage to the autonomic nerve
    It causes altered sweating, heat intolerance, and other problems related to internal organs.

What are the main causes?

The most prevalent cause of peripheral neuropathy is diabetes. Other causes include health conditions listed below:

How is it diagnosed and treated?

The diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy involves the following:

  • Blood test to detect diabetes or vitamin deficiency.
  • Nerve conduction tests.
  • Imaging techniques like X-ray, CT scan and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test.
  • Electromyography.
  • Nerve biopsy.

Treatment of peripheral neuropathy is done by treating the cause as well as managing the symptoms. The following are the commonly used methods of treatment:

  • Treating and managing diabetes.
  • Injections or oral supplements of vitamins.
  • Stopping the intake of a medicine, if it is the cause.
  • Corticosteroids.
  • Immunoglobulin injections.
  • Immunosuppressants.
  • Medications like painkillers to treat the nerve pain.
  • Wearing socks and shoes at all times helps prevent injuries to the foot due to reduced sensations.
  1. Medicines for Peripheral Neuropathy
  2. Doctors for Peripheral Neuropathy
Dr. Virender K Sheorain

Dr. Virender K Sheorain

Neurology
19 Years of Experience

Dr. Vipul Rastogi

Dr. Vipul Rastogi

Neurology
17 Years of Experience

Dr. Sushil Razdan

Dr. Sushil Razdan

Neurology
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Dr. Susant Kumar Bhuyan

Dr. Susant Kumar Bhuyan

Neurology
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References

  1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke [internet]. US Department of Health and Human Services; Peripheral Neuropathy Fact Sheet.
  2. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Peripheral neuropathy.
  3. The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy [Internet]: Buffalo Grove, IL; What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
  4. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Causes.
  5. National Health Service [Internet]. UK; Diagnosis.
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