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Peripheral Nerve Disorders

What are Peripheral Nerve Disorders?

The term “peripheral nerve” refers to any nerve outside the brain and spinal cord. Peripheral nerve disorders distort or interrupt the messages between the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system) and the rest of the body (peripheral nervous system). There are more than 100 types of peripheral nerve disorders that can affect one nerve or many nerves at the same time.

Causes of Peripheral Nerve Disorders

Some peripheral nerve disorders are the result of other diseases, like diabetic neuropathy. Others, like Guillain-Barré syndrome, are the result of a viral infection. Still others are from nerve compression, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or thoracic outlet syndrome. In some cases, such as complex regional pain syndrome and brachial plexus injuries, the problem begins after an injury.

Signs of Peripheral Nerve Disorders and Diagnosis

Among the most common disorders is peripheral neuropathy, which refers to several conditions that damage the peripheral nervous system. Peripheral neuropathies are either acquired or genetic. Causes of acquired peripheral neuropathy include physical injury, diabetes, vascular and blood problems, systemic autoimmune diseases, autoimmune diseases that attack nerves, hormonal imbalances, kidney and liver disorders, nutritional or vitamin imbalances, alcoholism, exposure to toxins, chemotherapy drugs, or viruses such as varicella-zoster, West Nile virus, cytomegalovirus, herpes simplex, and Lyme disease.

Peripheral neuropathy is diagnosed by medical history, physical and neurological exams, body fluid tests, and genetic tests. Depending on your symptoms, physicians at UTHealth Neurosciences may order nerve conduction velocity testing, electromyography, nerve biopsy, neurodiagnostic skin biopsy, and various imaging tests such as MRI or CT scan.


Treatment is typically nonsurgical and depends on the type of nerve damage, symptoms, and location. Your doctor will explain how nerve damage is causing specific symptoms and how to minimize and manage them. Correcting underlying causes through healthy lifestyle habits(such as  maintaining optimal weight, eating a balanced diet, exercising, and correcting vitamin deficiencies) can lead to recovery and regeneration of the nerves.

The Spine Center at UTHealth Neurosciences brings together a multidisciplinary team of board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons, neurologists, researchers, and pain management specialists who work together to help provide relief for even the most complex problems. People who suffer from radiculopathy, spondylosis, spinal stenosis, herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, peripheral nerve disorders, spinal cord injury, or other trauma benefit from our collaborative expertise in managing spine disorders. Before recommending surgery, your physician team will investigate options for nonsurgical treatment, including medical management, interventional pain management, physical therapy, and watchful waiting when appropriate.

What You Can Expect at UTHealth Neurosciences

At UTHealth Neurosciences, fellowship-trained neurologists, neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, interventional pain management specialists, and radiation oncologists work together to determine the care each patient needs, discussing treatment options as a group. The goal of this approach is to save our patients time and money and allow our specialists to share each other’s insights, leading to better treatment decision-making and outcomes.

We first investigate options for nonsurgical treatment, including medical management, pain management, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and watchful waiting. When surgery is needed, our neurosurgeons routinely employ innovative minimally invasive techniques. Throughout the treatment process, our team works closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care plan. While you are with us, you can expect expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

Contact Us

At UTHealth Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 500-8846 (UTHN), or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.

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