More than 20 million Americans have peripheral neuropathy, which can cause chronic pain, weakness, tingling, numbness and balance issues. Peripheral Neuropathy – a disorder of the peripheral nerves that affects the hands and feet – can be helped, and in some cases cured.
For the best outcome, experience is key. The specialists of the Department of Neurology at the University of Michigan Health System, have the experience, the newest treatments, and a multidisciplinary team to provide comprehensive, coordinated care. For patients with acquired neuropathy, our referral only Peripheral Neuropathy Center is a designated center of the Neuropathy Association – one of a select few in the country. For patients with inherited neuropathy, or Charcot- Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT), our CMT multidisciplinary clinic, a part of the international Inherited Neuropathy Consortium, offers the access to a neurologist, physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist, PT, OT, orthotics and genetic counseling, all in one visit. Our physicians are all board-certified subspecialists who are often called in for second opinions.
Between the two clinics, we treat the full spectrum of peripheral nerve disorders and neuropathy, including:
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Hereditary neuropathy (CMT)
- Metabolic neuropathy – deficiencies in certain nutrients or vitamins
- Neuropathy associated with autoimmune disease – such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Guillain-Barre syndrome
- Neuropathy associated with infectious diseases
- Toxic neuropathy – including chemotherapy and exposure to heavy metals
- Traumatic neuropathy – including car accident or other injury
The peripheral nervous system consists of all the motor and sensory nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body. Symptoms and physical findings associated with peripheral neuropathies vary from person to person, and often can be extremely complex.
To diagnose a specific neuropathy, we start with a comprehensive history, along with a standard panel of tests. Depending on your conditions, we may order a skin biopsy, a nerve biopsy, MRI, electromyography to measure the electrical activity of your muscles, and autonomic testing to check your autonomic nervous system.
We collaborate with a multidisciplinary team, including an endocrine specialist, physiatrist and neuropathologist with particular interest and training in peripheral nerve disorders, who assist in evaluation and treatment.
Treatment will depend on the type of neuropathy. Our CMT clinic offers those with hereditary neuropathy the opportunity to be a part of on-going clinical research aimed at finding interventions that can modify and one day cure the disease, while having their day-to-day symptoms addressed by specialists. For diabetic neuropathy, symptoms can be lessened with lifestyle counseling and pain control. Autoimmune disease neuropathy can be treated with immunosuppressant medications. For toxic neuropathy, we identify and discontinue the source. Patients undergoing chemotherapy may benefit from oral medications that can limit the extent of the neuropathy. And for traumatic neuropathy, options include rehabilitation or surgery.
We support and are actively involved in a number of research trials, for which you may be eligible to participate in, aimed at therapeutic and symptomatic treatment of neuropathy.