[Small fibre neuropathy: knowledge is power].Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2012; 156(7):A4224.NT
Small fibre neuropathy is a neuropathy of the small non-myelinated C-fibres and myelinated Aδ-fibres. Clinically, an isolated small fibre neuropathy is distinguished by sensory and autonomic symptoms, with practically no abnormalities on neurological examination other than possible distorted pain and temperature sensation. Specific diagnostic tests for small fibre neuropathy are skin biopsy, including a count of the intra-epidermal small nerve fibres that cross the basal membrane, and quantitative sensory and autonomic testing. Diabetes mellitus is the most frequent underlying cause of small fibre neuropathy. Other causes can be classified into the following categories: toxic (e.g. alcohol), metabolic, immune-mediated, infectious and hereditary. Recently, in a substantial proportion (29%) of a group of patients with idiopathic small fibre neuropathy, a SCN9A gene mutation was demonstrated, which leads to hyperexcitability of the dorsal root ganglion neurons. Treatment of small fibre neuropathy consists of symptomatic pain relief and, if possible, treatment of the underlying cause of the condition.