North Texas Institute of Neurology and Headache

5425 W. Spring Creek Pkwy

Suite 275
Plano, TX 75024
Phone: (972) 403-8184
Fax: (972) 403-0685



Peripheral Neuropathy

Karen Bontia, MD | Neurology | contact us

What is peripheral neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy means nerve damage. It can involve one nerve (mononeuropathy), more than one nerve in different places (multiple mononeuropathy), or many nerves all at the same time (polyneuropathy). Patients with peripheral neuropathy often experience numbness, tingling, pins-and-needles, electric-like sensation, sharp, and/or burning pain in the hands and feet. Some patients may also have muscle weakness, difficulty walking, problems with coordination, and autonomic symptoms (problems with regulation of heart rate, blood pressure and digestion). The symptoms usually start out mild and gradually worsen over a period of months to years. Rarely, neuropathy symptoms can progress over a period of days.

What causes it?

Diabetes mellitus is the most common cause of peripheral neuropathy in the United States. But there is a long list of possible causes which include alcohol, vitamin deficiencies, infection, autoimmune disease, inherited causes, systemic illnesses (i.e. kidney disease, liver disease, underactive thyroid), toxic exposure to heavy metals, certain medications, trauma, etc.

What can you do about it?

You should see your doctor right away if you think you have peripheral neuropathy. Early diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference in the improvement of your symptoms and chance of recovery. Your doctor will do a careful history and physical exam to determine if your symptoms are truly suggestive of neuropathy. At that point your doctor will likely order some tests.

The extent of testing will depend on your symptoms, these may include: #1. EMG and nerve conduction study. This tests the nerve and muscles and it will show if you have neuropathy, and can determine severity and extent of neuropathy. #2. Blood tests to find out what could be causing the neuropathy. #3. Urine testing to find out what could be causing the neuropathy. #3. Imaging studies. MRI of the neck and lower back may be ordered to look for any bulging disc which can potentially cause nerve damage. #4. Genetic testing. Usually if hereditary neuropathy is suspected. #5. Nerve biopsy. This is only done infrequently.

Your primary care provider may also refer you to a neurologist. Neurologists are trained to evaluate and treat peripheral neuropathy and can offer a more specialized care.

What is the treatment?

There are several medications available to help with the tingling, sharp, burning pain that accompanies peripheral neuropathy. However, the neuropathy itself can only be treated if we know the cause.

Contact Details

6750 N. MacArthur Blvd, Suite 250,Irving, TX 75039