Peripheral nerve disease or neuropathy refers to conditions caused by damage to the nerves outside the brain and spinal cord. These nerves supply the arms, legs, trunk and pelvis, and are responsible for our sensations of pain and temperature.
Peripheral neuropathy can prevent you from feeling a cut on your hand or foot, and it can cause pain so severe that a light sheet over your feet is extremely uncomfortable. A variety of disorders can affect these nerves including degenerative disease, infections, compression and trauma.
People with peripheral nerve damage can experience both sensory and motor symptoms. Sensory symptoms include pain, numbness, burning and tingling. These symptoms may radiate down the arms or legs or be felt only in the hands or feet. Motor symptoms include weakness, muscle cramps, twitching and tremors.
People with the symptoms associated with peripheral nerve disorders should first visit a general or musculoskeletal neurologist. These specialists are experts at evaluating your symptoms and identifying the underlying cause of your discomfort.
A variety of tests can be used for diagnosis including blood tests, EMG (to assess the health of nerves), nerve conduction studies and a thorough neurological history and physical. Once your physician has identified the cause, appropriate treatments can be discussed including physical therapy, medications or surgery.
If you are experiencing symptoms of peripheral nerve damage, Banner Brain & Spine is here for you. If you are in the Phoenix-area, please call (602) 521-3300 to make an appointment with our neurology team. If you are located in other communities, please visit with your physician for more information.