Ask the Experts: Neuropathy


Discover Symptoms, Diagnosis, and How We Can Help

What is Neuropathy?

Neuropathy is defined as damage to nerve cells that are outside of the brain and spinal cord. There are several causes and types but today we are going to look at the most common causes, symptoms, and treatments as it pertains to the EEOICPA. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), more than 20 million people suffer from one form of Peripheral Neuropathy.

The symptoms listed below are just a few examples of neuropathy that may affect your quality of life. Some of the most notable symptoms we see associated with DOL patients are indicated with an asterisk*.

  • Muscle weakness and cramps*
  • Muscle twitching
  • Loss of muscle and bone
  • Changes in skin, hair, or nails
  • Numbness*
  • Loss of sensation or feeling in body parts*
  • Loss of balance or other functions as a side effect of the loss of feeling in the legs, arms, or other body parts*
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Sleep disruptions*

Toxic Exposures:

Often, we see most neuropathies associated with former atomic workers are related to specific job titles that involved being in close proximity to heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium.

Medication Induced:
We also see that certain medications that are used to treat cancers and tumors can have very harsh side effects, that which impact the nerves in the peripheral parts of the body. This can include the hands, feet, arms and legs. While the vast majority of the time these symptoms start in the most distal parts of the body, it has been noted that over time symptoms can move closer to central parts of the body.

We have helped many former atomic workers add Neuropathy to their white card and help manage their symptoms at home.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and want to inquire about adding neuropathy to your white card, we would love to connect! Contact your local Benefits Specialist.

How Is Neuropathy Diagnosed?

A neuropathy diagnosis can be made through a series of evaluations, assessments, and testing provided by a physician. Ultimately, a doctor will decide what course of action and tests best suit your particular needs. Here are some examples how neuropathy can be evaluated and tested:

  • Sensation testing
    • Your doctor may ask you to remove your socks and shoes and close your eyes while
      they perform sensation testing using a sharp and dull object to see if you can feel
      when they are touched. In extreme cases, you may not be able to feel either or one
      and not the other.
  • Nerve conduction study
    • This test involves placing small metal wires on the skin and inducing a small electrical shock to measure the speed and strength of responsiveness from your nerves.
  • Needle electromyography (EMG)
    • EMG is the technique of recording and analyzing the electrical signals derived from individual muscle fibers of motor units while at rest and during voluntary contraction.
  • Needle or punch biopsy
    • A healthcare provider will use a small, sometimes 3mm, punch to take a sample of tissue to evaluate for what is called small fiber neuropathies. This is often used when other tests are inconclusive.

Although neuropathy in most cases cannot be reversed, it can be managed with treatments and lifestyle modifications.


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