Peripheral Neuropathy

A crucial part of diagnosing neuropathy is to identify the cause of the underlying condition. Both physical and neurological exams will be performed. A number of tests may be used to determine the underlying cause of neuropathy and rule out other conditions. Along with blood and urine tests, the following also may be performed:

  • Electroencephalography (EEG) — This test records electrical activity inside the brain.
  • Spinal Tap — During this test, also called a lumbar puncture, a special needle is placed into the lower back in the spinal canal, the area around the spinal cord. A small amount of cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) is removed for testing. CSF is the fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) — A CT scan is a series of detailed pictures of the brain, created by a computer linked to an X-ray machine.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) — This scan provides pictures of the brain, using a powerful magnet linked to a computer.
  • Nerve Conduction Velocity (NCV) Studies — These studies record the speed at which impulses travel through nerves and measure electrical responses.
  • Electromyography (EMG) — This test records the electrical activity in muscle tissue and is used to distinguish neuropathy from other neurological conditions.

In addition, your doctor may suggest a nerve or muscle biopsy to confirm the diagnosis. Biopsy involves removing tissue for microscopic evaluation and chemical analysis.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.