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Peripheral Neuropathy

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is damage to nerves. It typically starts in feet and hence is named peripheral neuropathy. It can slowly make its way up and involve legs and hands as well. Most patients complain of numbness, tingling and pain. Pain associated with neuropathy could range in severity and nature, could be sharp, stabbing or burning. 

What are different types of Peripheral Neuropathy?

Nerve cells, also called neurons, have two main components. Axons are the main part of that cell and have a fat layer covering around it called myelin. Neuropathy primarily affecting axons is called axonal neuropathy. And neuropathy which starts with damaging myelin are called demyelinating neuropathies. These are two major forms of neuropathy. 

  • Axonal neuropathy is a much more common form. Less common neuropathies like Guillain-Barré Syndrome and CIDP (Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Neuropathy) are examples of demyelinating neuropathies. 
  • Compression neuropathies are another common kind of neuropathies. There is damage to the nerve at the compression sites like at the wrist, at the elbow and around the knees. One of the most common types is Carpal tunnel syndrome which is a pinched nerve at the wrist.

Nerve conduction studies (NCV) and needle electromyography (EMG) is the test that helps diagnose and differentiate between these different types of neuropathy. Progressive Neurology and Sleep Center is one of the very few Accredited Center of Excellence for EMG studies. 

What are common causes of Peripheral Neuropathy?

Diabetes is the most common cause of neuropathy. There are multiple other causes like some vitamin deficiencies, HIV infection, and auto-immune problems. 

What are treatment options for Peripheral Neuropathy?

There are very limited treatment options for peripheral neuropathy. For most of the axonal neuropathies, there are no treatments available at this time that can reverse the nerve damage. Treatment usually involves treating the underlying cause of neuropathy. There are medications that can help some of the symptoms, especially neuropathic pain. 

In case of demyelinating neuropathies like CIDP, there are multiple immune-suppressants which can help.

Links to Resources

Progressive Neurology and Sleep Center serves patients with sleep difficulties. It serves patients from the Hampton Roads area including the cities of Chesapeake, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Outer Banks and surrounding areas.

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