Neuropathy refers to any condition that results from damage to nerves. This can occur from injury, toxins, medications or diseases, such as diabetes. A large percentage of the time the cause for a person’s neuropathy cannot be determined. Neuropathy often causes numbness and pain in the limbs. Sometimes there is weakness or loss of balance.
Other conditions can resemble neuropathy so correct diagnosis is key. Testing options include nerve conduction studies, electromyography (EMG), ultrasound, nerve biopsy and, in some cases, skin biopsy to look at the small nerve fibers in the epidermis.
It is important to determine the cause of someone’s neuropathy so the right treatment can be administered. Unfortunately, many neuropathies cannot be fixed and management involves treating symptoms, such as pain. It is especially important to identify cases were a person’s own immune system is attacking their nerves because there are therapies to treat to this (see CIDP).