Small fiber neuropathy

Abstract

Small fiber neuropathy (SFN) is a peripheral nervous system disease due to affection of A-delta or C-fibers in a proximal, distal, or diffuse distribution. Selective SFN (without large fiber affection) manifests with pain, sensory disturbances, or autonomic dysfunction. Though uniform diagnostic criteria are unavailable, most of them request typical clinical features and reduced intra-epidermal nerve fiber density on proximal or distal skin biopsy. Little consensus has been reached about the treatment of SFN, why this narrative review aims at summarizing and discussing treatment options for SFN. Treatment of SFN can be classified as symptomatic, pathophysiologic, or causal. Prerequisites for treating SFN are an established diagnosis, knowledge about the symptoms and signs, and the etiology. Pain usually responds to oral/intravenous pain killers, antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, or topical, transdermal specifications. Some of the autonomic disturbances respond favorably to symptomatic treatment. SFN related to Fabry disease or hATTR are accessible to pathogenesis-related therapy. Immune-mediated SFN responds to immunosuppression or immune-modulation. Several of the secondary SFNs respond to causal treatment of the underlying disorder. In conclusion, treatment of SFN relies on a multimodal concept and includes causative, pathophysiologic, and symptomatic measures. It strongly depends on the clinical presentation, diagnosis, and etiology, why it is crucial before initiation of treatment to fix the diagnosis and etiology. Due to the heterogeneous clinical presentation and multi-causality, treatment of SFN should be individualized with the goal of controlling the underlying cause, alleviating pain, and optimizing functionality.

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