Collaborative Neurological Care

The team of neurology experts at Penn State Health skillfully blend advanced diagnosis and treatment options with compassionate, collaborative care that addresses all aspects of your sensory dysfunction (peripheral neuropathy).

Sensory dysfunction occurs when the nerves outside your brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves) cause numbness, weakness and pain—typically in your hands and feet—although in some cases the condition affects other areas of your body.

Your peripheral nerves relay information back and forth from your brain and spinal cord to the rest of your body. When those messages are interrupted or delayed, peripheral nerve disorders, like sensory dysfunction, can result.

There are more than 100 types of peripheral neuropathy, each with its own unique symptoms and treatment options. They fall into three categories, depending on the type of nerve damage you have. In some cases, peripheral neuropathy affects one or two nerve groups, but it most often impacts the nerves in all three categories.

  • Sensory nerves: connect to your skin and receive sensations like pain, touch and temperature
  • Motor nerves: connect to your muscles and control movement
  • Autonomic nerves: connect to your internal organs and control functions like heart rate, bladder, blood pressure and digestion

Symptoms, Diagnosis and Outlook

Sensory Dysfunction Symptoms

Although the symptoms of sensory dysfunction may appear without warning, most tend to start gradually and increase over time. Pain is usually felt on both sides of your body and can occur constantly or in periodic intervals.

Symptoms include:

  • Numbness that spreads into your feet, hands, legs or arms
  • Burning, throbbing or sharp pain
  • Sensitivity to touch
  • Muscle weakness
  • “Pins and needles” or tingling sensation
  • Heat intolerance
  • Bladder, bowel or digestive issues

Diagnosing Sensory Dysfunction

Sensory dysfunction has several potential causes. The experts at Penn State Health perform a comprehensive physical exam and detailed review of your medical history.

Depending on your condition, diagnosis may also require further testing, including:

  • Blood tests
  • Advanced imaging like CT scan or MRI
  • Nerve biopsy
  • Electromyography (EMG) to measure nerve function
  • Nerve conduction study to measure nerve signal transmission

Outlook for Sensory Dysfunction Patients

The outlook for sensory dysfunction varies according to its severity and underlying cause. In some cases, the condition improves with treatment and time. In others, the damage may be difficult or impossible to reverse causing it to worsen as your illness progresses.

Experts in Care

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Why Choose Penn State Health for Care

The multidisciplinary general neurology team at Penn State Health offers cohesive, comprehensive inpatient and outpatient care to help you manage headache, weakness and sensory dysfunction. Our high level of expertise helps patients throughout the state achieve better health and quality of life.

Your care team may include:

  • Board-certified neurologists
  • Physicians in related specialties
  • Medical researchers
  • Physician assistants
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Highly skilled support staff

Support Groups

Support groups provide an opportunity to share your feelings and connect with other patients and caregivers who are experiencing similar struggles.

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Convenient Locations

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