Peripheral neuropathy (PN) refers technically to any condition arising from nerve damage in the limbs and extremities, but the term is mostly used in relation to generalised nerve damage, rather than disorders which affect only single nerves.
PN has varying causes and symptoms including numbness, pain, burning and tingling. In some patients, it causes very distressing restless legs.
Although common, PN can be difficult to diagnose clinically, as the symptoms can be both invisible and subjective – as always, there is no objective way to quantify or compare pain-levels between patients.
For example, severe pain experienced by one person may be perceived and described as discomfort by another. Similarly, different patients can describe apparently similar symptoms of PN as either “burning” or “tingling”.
Furthermore, PN can mimic other conditions and can be silent, making it easy to miss, or leading to an incorrect diagnosis without objective evidence.
Luckily, neurophysiology testing can help….
Nerve conduction studies (NCS) and electromyography (EMG) provide a clear, objective, quantified measurement of nerve function – effectively making PN “visible”.
For example, a patient of ours with Type 2 Diabetes recently complained of pins & needles in their toes. Although this is a typical complication of diabetes, the GP referred the patient for NCS as a precaution. Unexpectedly, the results indicated severe PN, which led to a diagnosis of kidney failure. The patient was subsequently referred for life-saving dialysis.
Objectively documenting the function of peripheral nerves (especially in cases where the symptoms are subjective) is vital – even when the diagnosis appears “obvious”.
Coastal Neurophysiology routinely bulk-bills NCS and EMG testing in Brisbane, Ipswich and the Gold Coast. Waiting times for appointments are currently only a few weeks. Results are explained immediately by our consultant Neurologists and a comprehensive report is sent to your referring Doctor within 24 hours.
For more information visit www.coastalneuro.com.au or phone 07 5503 2499.
Don’t stay in invisible pain any longer – ask your GP for a referral for NCS today.