Peripheral nerves in a general sense, can be subdivided into large and small nerve fibers. Typically, small nerve fibers are affected before large nerve fibers. Small fiber neuropathy, aka: small fiber sensory neuropathy (SFSN), or C fiber neuropathy is a newer focus of neuropathy that is able to offer an earlier detection of neuropathy. Small nerve fibers are the nerve fibers near the skin's surface, which is why the symptoms deal with sensation. Usually the symptoms start in the feet and lower legs. The symptoms may include insensitivity to heat and/or cold, tingling, numbness, muscle weakness, cramps, pain, and other symptoms. Some people describe the pain as an electric shock, or walking on broken pieces of glass, or bags of ice on their feet. Sometimes people experience a loss in the ability to feel and do not even know it.
The disorder can be caused by diabetes, alcoholism, or other conditions, but many times it is idiopathic. Identifying that you have small fiber neuropathy is the first step. Other tests to identify potential causes is the next step, as therapy often consists of treating the underlying cause, as well as relieving the symptoms.