Ohio State’s Peripheral Neuropathy Clinic has nine neurologists board-certified and fellowship-trained in neuromuscular diseases, including three who subspecialize in peripheral neuropathy.

Your peripheral nerves are the ones outside your brain and spinal cord. Like static on a telephone line, peripheral nerve disorders distort or interrupt the messages between the brain and the rest of the body.

There are more than 100 kinds of peripheral nerve disorders. They can affect one nerve or many nerves. Some are the result of other diseases, like diabetic nerve problems. Others, like Guillain-Barre syndrome, happen after a virus infection. Still others are from nerve compression, like carpal tunnel syndrome or thoracic outlet syndrome. In some cases, like complex regional pain syndrome and brachial plexus injuries, the problem begins after an injury. Some people are born with peripheral nerve disorders.

Symptoms often start gradually and then get worse. They include:

  • Numbness
  • Pain
  • Burning or tingling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sensitivity to touch

Treatment aims to resolve any underlying problem, reduce pain and control symptoms.

Source: NIH: National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Why choose Ohio State for treatment of peripheral neuropathy?

Diagnostic Expertise: Our Peripheral Neuropathy Clinic at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has nine neurologists board-certified and fellowship-trained in neuromuscular diseases, including three who subspecialize in peripheral neuropathy.

As one of the largest neuromuscular centers in the country, we see all major categories of neuromuscular disease. Our broad range of experience helps ensure that if you have an uncommon or complicated condition, we can provide the answers and the care you need.

Chemotherapy-Related Neuropathy: People suffering from cancer often must undergo chemotherapy that can damage nerve endings. This can result in pain and disability. Our neuromuscular physicians are partnering with the James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute to develop a clinic and research program designed to treat patients with neuropathies related to cancer or cancer therapy.

Research: To enhance our treatment of peripheral neuropathy, our neuromuscular diseases team conducts investigations and studies of the latest procedures and treatments. We participate in the Peripheral Neuropathy Study Group, a national network of medical centers that allows our patients access to the country’s most current clinical trials. Additionally, international collaborations give us more access to new ideas and cutting-edge work in these disorders.



Diagnosis

Diagnosing Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy can be difficult to diagnose. In almost 50 percent of neuropathy cases, a cause cannot be found. This can be reduced to about one-third at a center such as Ohio State, where the expertise and focus of our physicians mean that your testing will be accurately and appropriately performed and interpreted. This results in less testing and better information.

We will give you the best possible understanding of your neuropathy through a thorough history and physical and state-of-the-art tools and testing. Our diagnostic tests include:

  • Electrodiagnostic tests, including electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies (NCS)
  • Blood tests
  • Lumbar puncture (spinal tap)
  • Nerve function tests
  • Muscle strength tests
  • Sensory tests
  • Nerve biopsy
  • Diagnostic skin biopsy, a highly specialized test to evaluate whether you have a certain type of neuropathy  
  • Imaging tests (magnetic resonance imaging/MRI, computed tomography/CT)

About half of neuropathy disorders have a genetic basis, such as the group of hereditary neuropathies known as Charcot Marie Tooth disorders. New technology allows us to test multiple genes at one time, and we are now able to make a genetic diagnosis for many more persons with hereditary neuropathy.

Treatment

Treating Peripheral Neuropathy

There are more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy. There are also disorders that can mimic peripheral neuropathy but have a much different treatment or prognosis. Getting an accurate diagnosis of your symptoms is important in determining the best management strategy and in giving you an understanding of how your neuropathy may affect you in the future.

Personalized Treatment

Our physicians’ collaborations within and outside of Ohio State allow us to offer you the best management options available. Your treatment therapy will be personalized to your type of neuropathy and your medical history. This therapy may involve:

  • Effectively managing symptoms of pain
  • Referring you to the right physicians to manage the illness leading to your neuropathy
  • Referring you to physical therapists or orthotists
  • Selecting very specialized medications for rare causes
  • Managing disabilities with hand and foot braces or surgery to release compressed nerves

Physical Therapy

If your physician recommends physical therapy, our physical therapist completes a thorough assessment and customizes a plan that addresses:

  • Maintenance or improvement of muscle strength and joint flexibility
  • Energy-conservation and fatigue-reduction
  • Equipment or adaptations in the home
  • Minimizing pain due to muscle cramping or spasticity, overstretched or contracted muscles, and body positioning or pressure
  • Home exercises
  • Safe and efficient transfer techniques as you are moved from one place to another
  • Prevention of complications such as shoulder and neck problems, and falls

Research

Research

Ohio State initiates clinical trials, participates in trials collaboratively with other institutions (including Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus on genetics clinical trials) and networks with other centers around the world to offer you the most effective treatment.

We are a member of the National Institutes of Health’s NeuroNEXT: Network for Excellence in Neuroscience Clinical Trials. This collaboration results in more promising treatments, more rapidly, providing patients like you more hope.


Enroll in a clinical trial


Clinical Trials

As a patient at Ohio State, you will have access to clinical trials, including:

  • Evaluation of Fingolimod, a novel immunosuppressive drug proven to work in multiple sclerosis. It is being tested to determine if it is superior to steroids, IVIG or plasma exchange for inflammatory neuropathy.
  • Evaluation of immunoglobulin self-administered by the patient at home for inflammatory neuropathies. Home administration with a small needle provides a more convenient option for patients who would typically receive their medication in a clinic, infusion center or hospital.
  • The use of a sea snail toxin, ziconotide, to relieve pain in patients with painful neuropathy.  
  • Evaluation of the use of an enzyme replacement to treat neuropathy in patients with Fabry’s disease, a genetic disorder in which patients lack the enzyme being tested.
  • Comparison of four different medication therapies for painful sensory neuropathy.

Basic Science Projects

You also have the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge basic science research that can shed light on your own disease, as well as help others. Our researchers are focused on creating models of genetic forms of neuropathy in the laboratory to better understand how the conditions develop. Understanding “how” leads researchers toward therapies to treat peripheral neuropathy.

Our Doctors

Additional Information

Please bring to your first appointment all records, written reports and lab results from neurologists or referring physicians, as well as a CD of MRI and other imaging results. Also prepare a written family history of neurological diseases for our discussion during your visit.

Preparing for your visit

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