The Different Classifications of Peripheral Neuropathy

The Different Classifications of Peripheral Neuropathy

Your peripheral nervous system consists of all the nerves that lie outside of your brain and spinal cord. This nervous system keeps your brain and spinal cord connected with the rest of your body.

Generally speaking, your peripheral nervous system has two primary jobs. It carries sensory and motor information back and forth to your brain and spinal cord, and it regulates involuntary bodily functions, such as digestion and breathing. 

When you have peripheral neuropathy, you sustain damage to a nerve (or nerves) in your peripheral nervous system. This leads to problems with how the nerves send and receive messages, causing symptoms to develop. However, since you have nerves all over your body, and they each perform different tasks, not all neuropathy cases are the same. Instead, doctors classify them by severity and the nerve affected.

At Advanced Pain Management Center in Portland, Oregon, Vladimir Fiks, MD, offers diagnostic care and treatment for people living with nerve conditions. If you have peripheral neuropathy, here’s what you should keep in mind about this form of nerve damage.

Deciphering a complex problem

What sets peripheral neuropathy apart from other conditions is the fact that you have nerves all over your body, so your symptoms can vary significantly depending on the affected area and type of damage. 

To add another level of complexity, each of these nerves also performs specific tasks, such as:

Because of this, peripheral neuropathy symptoms can range from mild tingling or numbness in one part of the body to burning pain, paralysis, or even difficulty breathing or arrhythmia in other parts of the body.

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can also resemble other medical issues, so an accurate diagnosis is crucial to finding effective treatment.

Diagnosing and classifying peripheral neuropathy

You can experience peripheral neuropathy for numerous reasons, ranging from inherited conditions or injury to hormone imbalances or kidney disease. However, diabetes is a leading cause of peripheral neuropathy in the United States. 

Dr. Fiks confirms the presence of peripheral neuropathy by performing a thorough exam, reviewing your medical history, and conducting neurological tests. Based on his findings, he may also recommend MRI or CT scans, electromyography and nerve conduction studies, or nerve and skin biopsies.

In addition to diagnosing peripheral neuropathy, Dr. Fiks can also classify your condition by evaluating the severity and nerve type.


This involves identifying the extent of the nerve damage. For example, you can have problems with a single nerve in one area or damage to multiple nerves in more than one location. 

Nerve type

The next step in your diagnosis involves determining the types of nerves that sustained damage. Your peripheral nervous system has sensory, motor, and autonomic nerves, and they can all sustain damage. 

Once Dr. Fiks identifies the nerves and severity of damage, he can classify which type of peripheral neuropathy you have.

Types of peripheral neuropathy

There are more than 100 kinds of peripheral neuropathy. However, they all fall into one of four categories:

Sensory neuropathy

The nerves in this type of neuropathy control how you feel things, such as temperature, touch, or pain.

Motor neuropathy

The nerves in this type of neuropathy are involved with muscle and body movement, such as talking or moving your hands.

Autonomic nerve neuropathy

The nerves in this type of neuropathy manage unconscious functions, such as your heartbeat and breathing.

Combination neuropathies

This type consists of a combination of two or more types of neuropathies.

After classifying your neuropathy, Dr. Fiks can help create a personalized approach to managing your condition. Unfortunately, there’s usually no cure for peripheral neuropathy, but Dr. Fiks can help provide corrective measures to keep you comfortable and improve your quality of life.

Do you have peripheral neuropathy? To learn more about your treatment options, call 503-405-8718 or book an appointment online with Advanced Pain Management Center today.

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