Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy affects the network of peripheral nerves that sends instructions from the brain and spinal cord to other parts of the body, including organs, muscles and even the skin. The nerves become diseased or damaged, breaking down or disrupting communication, which impedes muscle movement, causes sensations of pain, or alters the normal sensations in the legs and arms. These altered signals can produce numbness, tingling and burning sensations in the limbs, muscle weakness and cramping, and impairment of organ function that can in turn disturb bodily processes such as digestion.

Many factors contribute to peripheral neuropathy, and there are several types of neuropathies. Peripheral neuropathy is most commonly attributed to complications from diabetes, where high sugar levels sustained over a long period of time cause the nerves to deteriorate. Carpal tunnel syndrome, a condition linked to repetitive use of the wrists or hands, also causes peripheral nerve damage. Both carpal tunnel and diabetes are classified as acquired neuropathies, or neuropathies caused by external factors such as illness or trauma. Neuropathies also may be classified as hereditary (passed through genetics) or idiopathic (from an unknown cause).

During the past 40 years, the UAB Neuromuscular Disease Service has grown into an internationally recognized center for clinical care, diagnostic clinical neurophysiology, and diagnostic muscle and nerve histopathology. As the only dedicated tertiary care neuromuscular center in Alabama, our board-certified neurologists with subspecialty expertise provide comprehensive care with the most current medical techniques for a broad array of diseases and conditions.  

Thanks to UAB’s strong clinical and basic research programs, you can be assured that we remain at the pioneering edge of medical discoveries, which could lead to opportunities for you to participate in studies and receive medications and treatments not available at most other health care centers. 

We excel at the diagnosis and treatment of neuromuscular disorders. Our specialists have authored major textbooks on electromyography and evoked potential. Moreover, our dedicated diagnostic laboratory and biopsy suite helps ensure the most comprehensive assessment and pathologic diagnosis of peripheral nervous system disorders in the Southeast.

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