The condition of small fiber neuropathy, is a disease widely known, though many are still unaware of its causes. Abnormal sensory changes and autonomic dysfunction are the repercussions once this condition which is also known as peripheral neuropathy develops in the body. The condition mainly affects the small nerves of the skin thus, the name. The condition is incurable, but there are treatment methods which help reduce its severity.
Diagnostic Procedure for Small Fiber Neuropathy
There is nothing much to speak of, when it comes to the diagnosis of this condition. As I have mentioned, the symptoms are the key to the diagnosis. But this may not stand true for some cases wherein, the condition presents itself as an idiopathy. So in such cases, the diagnosis could be carried out with the aid of skin biopsy, and tests that measure autonomic nerve function.
Skin biopsy is nothing but a procedure wherein, experts study the tissue or fluids of the body. This in turn helps in the study of the density of intraepidermal nerve fibers. The autonomic nerve function could be determined with the help of Tilt-table Test. In this test, the blood pressure and heart rate are monitored by the doctor. In some cases, ultrasound could also be employed to diagnose the neuropathy in case it is suspected to have occurred in the urinary tract of the patient.
Now once the small fiber neuropathy is diagnosed, experts conduct further tests which help in determining the underlying cause of the condition. Some common tests include:
- Complete blood cell count test
- Antinuclear antibody test
- Serum and urine immunofixation test
- Vitamin B12 level test
- Thyroid-stimulating hormone level test
Small Fiber Neuropathy Symptoms and Causes
The symptoms caused by the condition are similar to other regular conditions thus, they do not add much to the diagnosis. Nevertheless, the patient could be asked to give an account of the symptoms he/she has been experiencing.
The digits happen to be the hot spots in the body which show the early manifestations of the condition. Meaning, the end of the extremities serve as the indicators for the damage that small fiber neuropathy starts causing to the body. Early symptoms could involve getting a burning and/or tingling sensation in the extremities. This sensation could be accompanied by numbness. And because of this numbness the patient might not react to any injury caused due to heat, extreme coldness, cuts or bruises on his/her toes or fingers. And this might give rise to serious infections, as the injuries might be ignored due to the loss of sensation. Given this symptom, one diagnostic method for the condition is to determine if the person has any feeling of the object that he/she touches, because generally the patient is not able to do so. Some people have reported of experiencing a feeling as if they are walking on pebbles, sand, etc.
The above symptoms may be accompanied by muscle weakness. In some cases, this weakness could be so intense that it may render the person immobile. Meaning, he/she may not be able to go for short walks, without resting for a while. Also, the person may get so weak that he/she may not manage carrying even ordinary objects. Other symptoms which may be indicative of this disorder include erectile dysfunction, lightheadedness, fainting, and urinary incontinence.
According to medical experts, factors that are linked to the development of small fiber neuropathy may include:
- Autoimmune disorders
- Other nervous disorders
To conclude, the nature of the small fiber neuropathy care plan is driven by the severity of its underlying causes. Once the cause is diagnosed and treated, the condition starts improving. For instance, if the offender is diabetes, then the patient would be recommended to follow a dedicated diet for the condition, and take medication if necessary. Likewise, for other causes, the required treatment is followed to reduce and improve the symptoms of the condition. Although there is no cure for the condition, following the treatment methods as recommended by the doctor, would provide a great deal of help in improving the quality of life.