Peripheral Neuropathy: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

Medications

Certain medications may also cause nerve damage. These include:

  • anticonvulsants, which people take to treat seizures
  • drugs to fight bacterial infections
  • some blood pressure medications
  • medications used to treat cancer

Recent research in The Journal of Family Practice also suggests that statins, a class of drugs used to lower cholesterol and prevent cardiovascular disease, may also cause nerve damage and increase the risk for neuropathy.

How is peripheral neuropathy diagnosed?

First, your doctor will perform a physical exam and ask about your medical history. If they still can’t tell whether your symptoms are due to peripheral neuropathy, other tests to perform include:

  • Blood tests can measure vitamin and blood sugar levels and determine whether your thyroid is functioning correctly.
  • Your doctor may also order a CT scan or MRI to see if anything is pressing on a nerve, such as a herniated disk or a tumor.
  • Sometimes your doctor will order a nerve biopsy. This is a minor surgery that involves removing a small amount of nerve tissue that they can then examine under a microscope.

Electromyography

Electromyography can show problems with how your body’s nerve signals move to your muscles. For this test, your doctor will place a small needle into your muscle. Your doctor will then ask you to move your muscle gently. Probes in the needle will measure the amount of electricity moving through your muscle. This test may feel like you’re receiving a shot. Sometimes the area becomes sore for a few days afterward.

Nerve conduction study

In a nerve conduction study, your doctor places electrodes on your skin. They then pulse tiny amounts of electricity through your nerves to see if the nerves are transmitting signals properly. This procedure is slightly uncomfortable while it’s happening, but it shouldn’t hurt afterward.