Peripheral neuropathy has many possible causes. In addition to a physical exam, which may include blood tests, the diagnosis usually requires the following:
A complete medical history. Your doctor will review your medical history, including your symptoms, lifestyle, exposure to toxins, drinking habits, and family history of nervous system (neurological Neuropathy) diseases. Neurological examination. Your doctor may check your tendon reflexes, your muscle strength and tone, your ability to feel certain sensations, and your posture and coordination.
The doctor may order the following tests:
- Blood test. They can detect vitamin deficiencies, diabetes, abnormal immune function, and other signs of conditions that can cause peripheral neuropathy.
- Imaging tests. CT scans or MRIs can detect herniated discs, tumors, or other abnormalities.
- Nerve function analysis. Electromyography or Neuropathy (EMG) records electrical activity in muscles to detect nerve damage. A fine needle (electrode) is inserted into the muscle to measure electrical activity as you contract the muscle.
At the same time as an electromyogram, the doctor or an electromyography technician typically performs a nerve conduction study. Flat electrodes are placed on the skin and a low-voltage electrical current stimulates the nerves. The doctor will record the responses of the nerves to the electrical current.
Other tests of nerve function. They may include an autonomic reflex detection that records how autonomic nerve fibers are working, a sweat test that measures the body’s ability to sweat, and sensory tests that record how touch, vibration, cooling, and heat feel.
Nerve biopsy. This involves removing a small portion of a nerve, usually a sensory nerve, to look for abnormalities. Skin biopsy. The doctor removes a small piece of skin to look for a reduction in the nerve endings.