Updated: Feb 9, 2019
How is Peripheral Neuropathy Diagnosed?
Peripheral Neuropathy diagnosis is done by reviewing your medical history, physical and neurological exams, body fluid tests, and genetic history.
Medical History - A doctor will ask questions to uncover triggers for the symptoms you may be experienced. This is related to topics like lifestyle and social habits. It will also include, alcohol and drug use; smoking habits; diet; exposure to toxins; risk of infectious diseases, and any family history of neurological diseases.
Physical and Neurological Exams - A doctor will look for history of body-wide diseases that may be causing your nerve damage. This includes diseases like diabetes. This will include testing for the severity of nerve damage and the conscious awareness of your nerve function.
Body Fluid Test - The doctor may order body fluid tests to determine if neuropathy has affected your immune system. This may include testing for vitamin deficiencies, infections, diabetes, and liver or kidney failure.
Genetic History - You may need a genetic test to determine if neuropathy is caused by a genetic trait.
Each case is different. Doctors may need to perform a more thorough evaluation for some and less for others.
Physiological Exams may include:
Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) Tests - This uses electrical signals to test the strength and speed of large motor and sensory nerves. This can reveal the nerves damaged and whether it is the axon or myelin sheath (which part) of the nerve. This is done by the doctor electronically stimulating the nerve. The nerve will respond with its own impulse which it's measured by an electronic node placed further along the nerve. Different speeds and strengths of the electric impulse provide us with different results.
Electromyography (EMG) - This involves placing very fine needles into muscles to determine their electrical activity at rest. By doing this we test whether the nerves are damaged or the muscles.
Neurodiagnostic Skin Exams - We review the quality and affectedness of the skin where the nerves are damaged. This is to determine how much swelling and redness has occurred. Also, we detect whether any infections are apparent.
Balance Testing - Neuropathy severity may affect the balance of a patients. During this test we will review how your balance has been affected by neuropathy.
Autonomic Testing - Several different autonomic tests are used to determine the level of peripheral neuropathies in each case.
Radiology Imaging Testing - This includes tests like Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) Scans. MRIs can reveal nerve root damage along the spine, tumors, or other signs of nerve compression. CT scans can reveal signs of herniated discs, stenosis, tumors, and other bone and vascular irregularities that may affect the nerves. These are typically only done, if ordered by the Chiropractic Neuropathy Doctor.
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