Diagnosis of Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy is not a disease in itself. Rather, it is a symptom with an underlying cause, making it difficult to diagnose at times. Your doctor will need to determine the location of the nerve damage as well as the underlying cause. In order to make a diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy, you doctor will need to do the following:

  • A Complete Medical History: This includes your lifestyle, exposure to toxins, drinking and other habits, symptoms you are experiencing, other diseases you may be suffering from and a family history of neurological disease.
  • A Neurological Examination: This includes checking your reflexes, your muscle strength, coordination and sensory perception.
  • A physical examination

Your doctor may order certain tests. Tests for peripheral neuropathy include:

  • Blood Tests: These tests are used to measure levels of vitamins and blood sugar which may reveal an underlying cause like diabetes. Liver, kidney and thyroid function tests may also be performed.
  • Imaging Tests: CT scans or MRI can reveal abnormalities like tumors that may be responsible for the peripheral neuropathy.
  • Nerve Function Tests: A test known as an electromyography can read electrical activity in the muscles, thereby revealing if the weakness is caused by muscle or nerve damage. Nerve conduction studies may also be performed. These assess the response of your nerves and muscles to small electrical stimuli.
  • Nerve Biopsy: A small portion of a nerve is removed. An examination may reveal abnormalities that help the doctor determine the cause of the nerve damage.

Frequently asked questions
  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001619/
  2. * Pieber K, Herceg M, Paternostro-Sluga T (April 2010). "Electrotherapy for the treatment of painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy: a review". J Rehabil Med 42 (4): 289–95
  3. ** Acupuncture for the treatment of chronic painful peripheral diabetic neuropathy: a long-term study B.B Abuaisha, J.B Costanzi, A.J.M Boulton