NYM Establishes Program Aimed at Diagnosing and Treating
Ten to twenty million Americans suffer from some form of peripheral neuropathy, yet public awareness of this condition is low. Often, those who have one or more signs and symptoms remain undiagnosed for months or years, sharply reducing their chances for successful treatment.
The Neuropathy Program at New York Methodist Hospital, a division of the Hospital''s Institute for Neurosciences, is dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of individuals with peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy results from damage to the peripheral nerves, which connect the central nervous system to the muscles, skin and internal organs. The disorder varies in severity, but has the potential to be highly debilitating.
Peripheral neuropathy can occur at any age but is most common among older adults. A neuropathy may arrive suddenly or progress gradually, over a period of years. "A neuropathy may be the first sign of a previously undiagnosed condition," said Adina Goldfarb, M.D., director of the electromyography (EMG) laboratory at NYM. These conditions include diabetes, hepatitis, infectious or rheumatologic disease, cancer or side effects of medication or chemotherapy.
A neuropathy can be caused by infections, such as Lyme disease; illnesses, cancer, kidney failure, pressure resulting from repetitive motion or remaining in one position, rheumatoid arthritis or nutritional deficiencies. Additionally, genetic abnormalities and damage from direct trauma pressure can also contribute.
While the causes of neuropathy vary, they tend to produce similar symptoms. "Most often patients suffering from neuropathy will experience weakness, numbness, burning, tickling or tingling sensations (''pins and needles''), pain in the legs, arms and feet and difficulty walking," noted Cary Buckner, M.D., director of clinical neurophysiology at NYM. Some neuropathies can also cause constipation, diarrhea or sexual dysfunction.
Clinical examinations and tests are used to evaluate and diagnose peripheral neuropathy. "Through various tests, we are able to determine the severity and often the underlying cause, and suggest the most promising form of treatment," said Dr. Goldfarb. The program offers uniquely qualified physicians, specializing in the field of neuropathy, as well as the highly advanced technology needed for its diagnosis.
Neuropathy can frequently be managed and fully controlled, especially when a diagnosis is established at an early stage. Therapy may involve treatment of an underlying condition, surgery, physical therapy, splinting or lifestyle changes (for repetitive stress injuries.) "Although recovery can be a slow process, after treatment, many patients are able to return to a healthy and happy lifestyle," said Dr. Buckner.
For more information about the Neuropathy Program at New York Methodist Hospital, or to schedule an appointment, please call 718-246-8812.
Neuropathy specialists, Cary Buckner, M.D., director of clinical neurophysiology at NYM, left, and Adina Goldfarb, M.D., director of the electromyography (EMG) laboratory at NYM, confer with a patient.