Sensory Polyneuropathies

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Abstract

Purpose of Review: This article describes the methods of diagnosis and management of the sensory-predominant polyneuropathies. To simplify the approach to this category of patients, sensory-predominant polyneuropathies are divided broadly into either small fiber (or pain-predominant) neuropathies and large fiber (or ataxia-predominant) neuropathies, of which the sensory neuronopathies (dorsal root ganglionopathies) are highlighted.

Recent Findings: Physicians can now easily perform skin biopsies in their offices, allowing access to the gold standard pathologic diagnostic tool for small fiber neuropathies. Additional diagnostic techniques, such as corneal confocal microscopy, are emerging. Recently, small fiber neuropathies have been associated with a broader spectrum of diseases, including fibromyalgia, sodium channel mutations, and voltage-gated potassium channel antibody autoimmune disease.

Summary: Despite advances in diagnosing small fiber neuropathies and sensory neuronopathies, many of these neuropathies remain refractory to treatment. In select cases, early identification and treatment may result in better outcomes. “Idiopathic” should be a diagnosis of exclusion and a thorough investigation for treatable causes pursued.

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