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Overview of polyneuropathy

Author
Seward B Rutkove, MD
Section Editor
Jeremy M Shefner, MD, PhD
Deputy Editor
John F Dashe, MD, PhD

INTRODUCTION

This topic will review a general approach to polyneuropathy. Specific polyneuropathies are discussed in more detail separately.

TERMINOLOGY

The terms "polyneuropathy," "peripheral neuropathy," and "neuropathy" are frequently used interchangeably, but are distinct.

Polyneuropathy is a specific term that refers to a generalized, relatively homogeneous process affecting many peripheral nerves, with the distal nerves usually affected most prominently.

Peripheral neuropathy is a less precise term that is frequently used synonymously with polyneuropathy, but can also refer to any disorder of the peripheral nervous system including radiculopathies and mononeuropathies.

Neuropathy, which again is frequently used synonymously with peripheral neuropathy and/or polyneuropathy, can refer even more generally to disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system.

                                 
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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 29, 2017.
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