Small Fiber Neuropathy

Small fiber neuropathy is an illness that results to loss of sensations – that of hot or cold. These fibers are located near the surface of the skin and these usually carry temperature sensations. They allow us to feel some sensitivity to the temperatures around us. These nerves also help us feel sensations of pain and discomfort whenever the conditions around us make us feel so.

One of the most important symptoms of small fiber neuropathy is insensitivity to either heat or cold. There may also be feelings of some numbness, tingling, cramps, muscle weakness and pain. There are also others who don’t experience any of these symptoms at all. There may be some injury sustained by the person but there is no sensation of pain. If the pain is experienced, it is often compared to pain when one suffers an electric shock, a similar pain when being poked with a sharp object or pain caused by a broken glass. There is also the ‘burning feet sensation’ which causes a lot of pain regardless of the environmental condition.

Although there is no exact cause for this illness, small fiber neuropathy has always been linked with diabetes. It is due to the rise of sugar within the body system that causes problems. The blood circulation is not functioning well to bring enough oxygen to the nerves. This arises to another problem known as diabetic neuropathy. This usually has bad effects on the feet causing pain and the condition called ‘burning feet sensation’.

HIV and AIDS are considered common causes of small fiber neuropathy. Since these diseases attack the immune system of the body, the nervous system is likely the first to be highly affected. Alcohol may also cause this illness because once the alcohol is absorbed into the system it affects the blood stream and results to poor blood circulation to the nerves. Smoking has its bad effects on the nerves and affects the supply of oxygen to the nervous system of the body. Smoking causes inflammation on the feet which contribute more pain to the ‘burning feet sensation’ condition. Then, there are the so called auto-immune diseases which occur when the immune system breaks down causing other illnesses to affect small fiber neuropathy.

There is no exact treatment for small fiber neuropathy. The treatment may start with treating the other symptoms or illnesses that cause it like monitoring diabetes, avoiding smoking and drinking of alcohol and strengthening the immune system. Treatment options include skin biopsy, nerve stimulators, anti-convulsants, anti-depressants, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy, acupuncture and meditation and relaxation techniques. Medications show side effects of drowsiness and anxiety. A combination of low dosages of medicines combined with physical therapy and relaxation techniques are recommended. There is also a technique known as immunohistochemical staining of small fiber nerves to help identify, study and understand more of this illness.

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