There are 2 nervous systems to consider when managing a patient with peripheral neuropathy: the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system. The nervous system has 3 main functions: sensory, integration and motor.

The peripheral nervous system comprises 2 additional nervous systems: the somatic nervous system, which includes all voluntary efferent neurons, and the autonomic nervous system (ANS), which is a division of the peripheral nervous system that includes all of the involuntary efferent neurons. 

Dr. Strand noted that there are more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy. Several of the mostly commonly encountered types include motor neuropathy, sensory neuropathy, sensorimotor neuropathy, autonomic neuropathy, as well as combinations.


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There is a range of clinical features of peripheral neuropathy for clinicians to consider. These include sensory neuropathy, numbness, loss of sensation or feeling in body parts, loss of balance, emotional disturbances, and sleep disruptions, among others.

When assessing a patient for symptoms of motor neuropathies, clinicians should pay attention to any signs of muscle weakness; painful cramps; fasciculations in the muscle (something that can observed in the clinic); muscle atrophy; and changes in skin (waxy or thickened), hair (shorter or longer), or nails.

When conducting an assessment for autonomic neuropathy, symptoms to be alert to include the inability to sweat properly, loss of bladder control, dizziness or lightheadedness, difficulty eating, and life-threatening symptoms such as a difficulty breathing or an irregular heartbeat. 

This article originally appeared on MPR