The peripheral nervous system includes all nerves running throughout the body. Polyneuropathies (PNP) are a set of common disorders that may occur for a variety of reasons and can affect multiple peripheral nerves simultaneously (peripher = at the edges, poly = many). Damage to the peripheral nerves can take many forms: pain, burning, numbness, discomfort, tingling, paresis in the muscles supplied by the nerve, and skin changes.
During our special polyneuropathy consultations, we document the patient’s detailed medical history and complete a thorough examination. Electrophysiology examinations, such as electroneurography (ENG), electromyography (EMG) and evoked potentials (EP) make it possible to diagnose the type of distribution and damage (axonal vs. demyelinating). The extent of muscle damage (denervation) can be determined. Lab tests are carried out to identify the main treatable causes of the polyneuropathy. If necessary, medical imaging, such as nerve ultrasound and occasionally computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are used.
Focus areas of polyneuropathy consultations
- Polyneuropathies caused by hormone and metabolic disorders. This group includes diabetes, thyroid diseases, kidney diseases and vitamin deficiencies (B1, B2, B6, B12, E).
- Inflammatory polyneuropathies: viral, bacterial, autoimmune diseases (e.g. HIV, borreliosis, Guillain-Barre syndrome).
- Polyneuropathies caused by medications, alcohol and environmental toxins (e.g. cancer drugs, metals, such as arsenic and lead, organic phosphorus compounds).
- There are several genetically related forms of polyneuropathy.
- In at least a third of cases, it is not possible to identify a cause, and the patient receives symptomatic treatment.