Individuals diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy, or with small fiber neuropathy, can understanding symptoms and causes help with potential treatments?
Table of Contents
Small fiber neuropathy is a specific classification of neuropathy, as there are different types, which are nerve injury, damage, disease, and/or dysfunction. Symptoms can result in pain, loss of sensation, and digestive and urinary symptoms. Most cases of neuropathy like peripheral neuropathy involve small and large fibers. Common causes include long-term diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, alcohol consumption, and chemotherapy.
Symptoms include: (Heidrun H. Krämer, et al., 2023)
Most types of peripheral neuropathy cause damage to the small and large peripheral nerve fibers. Because of this, most neuropathies are a mix of small-fiber and large-fiber neuropathy. Common risk factors for mixed fiber neuropathy include: (Stephen A. Johnson, et al., 2021)
Isolated small-fiber neuropathy is rare, but there are conditions that are known to contribute to the cause and include: (Stephen A. Johnson, et al., 2021)
These conditions have been seen to cause isolated small-fiber neuropathy or begin as small-fiber neuropathy before progressing to the large nerve fibers. They can also begin as a mixed neuropathy, with small and large fibers.
Often the damage progresses at a relatively moderate rate, leading to added symptoms within months or years. The fiber nerves that are affected by the underlying condition usually progressively deteriorate, regardless of where they are located. (Mohammad A. Khoshnoodi, et al., 2016) Medications can help alleviate damage to the peripheral nerves. For individuals that are diagnosed in the early stage, it is possible to stop the progression, and potentially prevent involvement of the large fibers.
Treatment toward preventing the progression requires controlling the underlying medical condition with treatment options depending on the cause. Treatments that can help prevent the progression include:
Individuals can get treatment for the symptoms that will not reverse or cure the condition but can help with temporary relief. Symptomatic treatment can include: (Josef Finsterer, Fulvio A. Scorza. 2022)
Treatment and medical management of neuropathies usually involve a neurologist. A neurologist may prescribe medication to help alleviate pain symptoms and provide medical interventions like immunotherapy if there is concern that an autoimmune process could be the cause. Additionally, treatment could include the care of a physical medicine and rehabilitation physician or a physical therapy team to provide stretches and exercises to help strengthen the body and maintain mobility and flexibility.
Johnson, S. A., Shouman, K., Shelly, S., Sandroni, P., Berini, S. E., Dyck, P. J. B., Hoffman, E. M., Mandrekar, J., Niu, Z., Lamb, C. J., Low, P. A., Singer, W., Mauermann, M. L., Mills, J., Dubey, D., Staff, N. P., & Klein, C. J. (2021). Small Fiber Neuropathy Incidence, Prevalence, Longitudinal Impairments, and Disability. Neurology, 97(22), e2236–e2247. doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000012894
Finsterer, J., & Scorza, F. A. (2022). Small fiber neuropathy. Acta neurologica Scandinavica, 145(5), 493–503. doi.org/10.1111/ane.13591
Krämer, H. H., Bücker, P., Jeibmann, A., Richter, H., Rosenbohm, A., Jeske, J., Baka, P., Geber, C., Wassenberg, M., Fangerau, T., Karst, U., Schänzer, A., & van Thriel, C. (2023). Gadolinium contrast agents: dermal deposits and potential effects on epidermal small nerve fibers. Journal of neurology, 270(8), 3981–3991. doi.org/10.1007/s00415-023-11740-z
Li, M., Tao, M., Zhang, Y., Pan, R., Gu, D., & Xu, Y. (2023). Neurogenic rosacea could be a small fiber neuropathy. Frontiers in pain research (Lausanne, Switzerland), 4, 1122134. doi.org/10.3389/fpain.2023.1122134
Khoshnoodi, M. A., Truelove, S., Burakgazi, A., Hoke, A., Mammen, A. L., & Polydefkis, M. (2016). Longitudinal Assessment of Small Fiber Neuropathy: Evidence of a Non-Length-Dependent Distal Axonopathy. JAMA neurology, 73(6), 684–690. doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2016.0057
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