skip to content

Integrated Pain Management

Blogs

Small Fiber Neuropathy Guide: Causes, Treatment, And Symptoms

Are you living with the debilitating pain of small fiber neuropathy?

You’re not alone.

This neurological condition affects millions worldwide, causing symptoms from burning sensations to nerve damage.

If this sounds like something that could affect your life, our Small Fiber Neuropathy Guide is essential reading.

We’ll provide an overview of the causes and symptoms and advice on treatments and management plans.

Let’s get started – if you want fast relief from this condition, read on!

What Is Small Fiber Neuropathy?

Small Fiber Neuropathy

Small fiber neuropathy (SFN) is a type of peripheral neuropathy that affects the small nerves known as the C-fibers, which regulate sensation and autonomic functions such as digestion, temperature regulation, heart rate, and blood pressure.

Symptoms

Symptoms of SFN can include burning or stabbing pain, numbness, tingling sensations, and hypersensitivity to touch.

While the exact cause of SFN is unknown, it can be associated with autoimmune diseases such as Sjogren’s Syndrome and lupus, diabetes mellitus, malnutrition, metabolic disorders such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, and certain types of cancer.

Treatment for SFN can include medications such as antidepressants or anticonvulsants, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and nerve blocks.

It is important to consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms associated with SFN so they can help diagnose the cause and determine a correct course of treatment.

Causes

The exact cause of SFN is unknown, but it can be associated with underlying conditions such as autoimmune diseases, diabetes mellitus, malnutrition, metabolic disorders, and certain types of cancer.

People who are at an increased risk for developing small fiber neuropathy include those with diabetes or other metabolic disorders, people who have been exposed to toxins such as heavy metals or chemotherapy drugs, and those who have been exposed to infections such as Lyme disease or HIV.

Risk factors

Risk factors for developing SFN can include

  • > certain underlying conditions,

  • > exposure to toxins or infections, and

  • > lifestyle choices such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption.

Additionally, age-related changes in the body can predispose people to developing neuropathy over time.

Diagnosis

Medical history

Medical history is important for diagnosing small fiber neuropathy, as certain conditions can predispose people to develop it.

A doctor will take a thorough medical history and ask questions about underlying conditions such as diabetes or other metabolic disorders, exposure to toxins or infections, and lifestyle choices such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption.

Nerve conduction test and electromyography

Nerve conduction tests and electromyography are two important diagnostic tools for diagnosing small fiber neuropathy.

A nerve conduction study (NCS) measures the speed and strength of the electrical signals traveling through the motor and sensory nerves.

NCS can indicate whether there is damage to the nerve fibers and provide information on the degree of damage.

Electromyography (EMG) measures the electrical activity in muscles and can show whether there is a problem with the nerve fibers that supply them or if another muscle disorder, such as myopathy, is present.

Skin biopsy

A skin biopsy may also be used to diagnose SFN. In this procedure, a small skin sample is removed from the patient and evaluated under a microscope to see if small nerve fiber damage is present.

This test can help determine whether SFN is the cause of the patient’s symptoms or if an underlying condition such as diabetes or another metabolic disorder is present.

Reflex testing

Reflex testing can diagnose small fiber neuropathy by measuring the electrical activity of the nerves that control reflexes and muscle contractions.

This test can help determine whether there is a problem with the nerve fibers and assess the severity of damage if it is present. In addition, reflex testing can help differentiate between small fiber neuropathy and other types of peripheral neuropathies.

Treatment

Treatment for small fiber neuropathy can vary depending on the underlying cause.

Medications such as antidepressants or anticonvulsants may be prescribed to relieve pain and numbness associated with SFN.

Physical therapy, lifestyle modifications, and nerve blocks may also be recommended to alleviate symptoms and improve nerve function.

Surgery may sometimes be recommended to correct underlying conditions causing SFN. It is important to consult with your doctor to determine which treatment plan is best for you.

FAQs About Small fiber Neuropathy and Disability

What is small fiber neuropathy?

Small fiber neuropathy (SFN) is a type of peripheral nerve damage that affects small nerve fibers responsible for sensations such as pain, temperature, and touch. SFN is characterized by burning pain, tingling, numbness or an inch, increased cold or heat, and annual symptoms.

What triggers small fiber neuropathy?

Small fiber neuropathy is often caused by underlying diseases such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders, or nutritional deficiencies.

Other potential triggers include exposure to environmental toxins, physical trauma, or certain medications. In some cases, a cause for SFN may not be determined.

However, it is important to note that SFN can result from damage to the peripheral nerves instead of damage to the brain or spinal cord.

What are the signs and symptoms of small fiber neuropathy?

The signs and symptoms of small fiber neuropathy can vary depending on the underlying cause. Common symptoms include burning, stabbing, or electrical pain in the feet, legs, hands, or arms; numbness or tingling; increased sensitivity to touch and temperature; dry or cracked skin; muscle weakness and fatigue; changes in sweating patterns such as reduced sweating or excessive sweating; and changes in reflexes.

How do you treat small nerve fiber neuropathy?

Treatment for small fiber neuropathy will depend on the underlying cause.

Most treatments aim to reduce symptoms and improve quality of life, so they may include physical therapy, medications such as antidepressants, anticonvulsants or topical pain relievers, lifestyle changes such as taking regular breaks when standing or walking for long periods, avoiding hot baths and showers and wearing shoes with cushioned insoles.

Is small fiber neuropathy considered a disability?

Small fiber neuropathy can be considered a disability, depending on the severity of symptoms.

In general, it is classified as a physical impairment that interferes with the activities of daily living.

This means that individuals with SFN may be unable to perform certain tasks or activities due to pain, tingling, numbness, fatigue, or other symptoms.

Suppose the impairment restricts an individual’s ability to work. In that case, they may be eligible for disability benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income programs.

Individuals need to speak with a doctor and their local Social Security office to determine eligibility for disability benefits.

What is small fiber neuropathy life expectancy?

The life expectancy of someone with small fiber neuropathy depends on the underlying cause of the condition and how it is managed.

In most cases, SFN does not lead to life-threatening complications; however, some serious medical issues may arise if left untreated or unmanaged.

Due to this, individuals with small fiber neuropathy need to seek treatment and work closely with their healthcare team to prevent further complications and enjoy a high quality of life.

Life expectancy can also be increased by following a healthy diet and lifestyle habits such as regular exercise and avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.

Additionally, certain medications may be prescribed to help manage symptoms associated with the condition. With effective management strategies tailored specifically for each individual’s needs, living a long and full life should remain possible despite small fiber neuropathy.

Conclusion

To summarize, small fiber neuropathy is a challenging condition that various factors can cause.

Diagnosis and treatment can be complex; long-term management requires an experienced healthcare team.

It is important to be proactive about managing your health if you think you may have small fiber neuropathy so that symptoms do not get out of control.

Suppose pain persists or worsens despite traditional methods. In that case, Integrated Pain Management has experts dedicated to providing comprehensive care for optimal outcomes.

Don’t put off taking care of yourself – book an appointment now and start living without the constant burden of chronic pain!

en_US