Diagnosing Peripheral Neuropathy

Diagnosing Peripheral NeuropathyinHoover

Our Informed Team Can Help You

Most often, a doctor can diagnose peripheral neuropathy based on the description of your symptoms, along with a neurological examination. Sometimes, nerve conduction studies are performed and can support the diagnosis. We perform Epidermal Nerve Fiber Density (ENFD) biopsies, which have been found to have 88.4% sensitivity in detection of peripheral neuropathy, compared to 54.6% for a clinical exam alone. ENFD is widely considered to be the “gold standard” in the detection of peripheral neuropathy.

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Approximately 40 million Americans are affected by peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy is a condition in which the peripheral nerves (the nerves in your body, aside from your spinal cord and brain) are damaged and/or not working correctly. Neuropathic pain is characterized by pain, tingling and numbness in the feet and lower legs, balance problems, and a variety of uncomfortable feelings. It can be quite debilitating and affects more than 10% of the population. Diabetes is the leading cause of peripheral neuropathy.

The causes of peripheral neuropathy (PN) include:

  • Diabetes: An estimated 29.1 million Americans have diabetes. Sixty to seventy percent of those diabetics have PN (or 20 million diabetics have diabeticperipheral neuropathy [DPN]). Under-managed DPN is the top cause of lower limb amputations. Nearly 54,000 diabetics have amputations each year. Seventy-five percent of amputations are preventable.
  • Idiopathic: Twenty-three percent of patients have an unknown origin of PN. It occurs mostly in middle aged and elderly patients.
  • Chemotherapy: Thirty to forty percent of all cancer patients have chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy (CIN), or 10% of all PN.
  • HIV/AIDS: One third of HIV/AIDS suffer from PN. These people account for 2% of all PN.
  • Unknown causes account for 5% of all PN.
  • Other causes account for 5% of PN cases. This includes Agent Orange exposure and immune system disorders such as Guillian-Barré, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy (CIDP), Charcot-Marie Tooth disease, Celiac disease, Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Shingles.

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