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Types of peripheral neuropathy

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Based on symptomatology or aetiology, peripheral neuropathies can be categorized as follows:

  • Acute onset:
    • Guillain-Barre syndrome
    • Porphyria
    • Toxic (for example, arsenic, nitrofurantoin)
    • Serum sickness (postimmunisation)
    • Diphtheria
    • Malignancy
    • Critical illness polyneuropathy
    • Diabetes, uraemia (rarely)

  • Predominantly motor:
    • Guillain-Barre syndrome
    • Porphyria
    • Diphtheria
    • Lead
    • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease
    • Diabetes (diabetic amyotrophy)

  • Predominantly sensory:
    • Leprosy Diabetes (distal sensory polyneuropathy)
    • Vitamin B12 or thiamine deficiency
    • Malignancy
    • Hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy
    • Primary of familial amyloidosis
    • Uraemia
    • Lyme disease
    • Sjogren's syndrome

  • Radicular:
    • Diabetic truncal neuropathy
    • Lyme disease
    • Sjogren's syndrome

  • Painful neuropathies:
    • Alcohol, nutritional deficiencies
    • Diabetes (acute painful neuropathy)
    • Hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy (HSAN type 1)
    • Arsenic
    • Cryoglobulinaemia
    • Lyme disease
    • Paraneoplastic sensory neuropathy
    • Vasculitic neuropathies


  • McLeod JG. Investigation of peripheral neuropathy. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 1995;58:274-283

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