REVIEWS IN THE NEUROSCIENCES, vol.26, no.2, pp.239-251, 2015 (SCI-Expanded)
Peripheral nerve hyperexcitability (PNH) syndromes can be subclassified as primary and secondary. The main primary PNH syndromes are neuromyotonia, cramp-fasciculation syndrome (CFS), and Morvan's syndrome, which cause widespread symptoms and signs without the association of an evident peripheral nerve disease. Their major symptoms are muscle twitching and stiffness, which differ only in severity between neuromyotonia and CFS. Cramps, pseudomyotonia, hyperhidrosis, and some other autonomic abnormalities, as well as mild positive sensory phenomena, can be seen in several patients. Symptoms reflecting the involvement of the central nervous system occur in Morvan's syndrome. Secondary PNH syndromes are generally seen in patients with focal or diffuse diseases affecting the peripheral nervous system. The PNH-related symptoms and signs are generally found incidentally during clinical or electrodiagnostic examinations. The electrophysiological findings that are very useful in the diagnosis of PNH are myokymic and neuromyotonic discharges in needle electromyography along with some additional indicators of increased nerve fiber excitability. Based on clinicopathological and etiological associations, PNH syndromes can also be classified as immune mediated, genetic, and those caused by other miscellaneous factors. There has been an increasing awareness on the role of voltage-gated potassium channel complex autoimmunity in primary PNH pathogenesis. Then again, a long list of toxic compounds and genetic factors has also been implicated in development of PNH. The management of primary PNH syndromes comprises symptomatic treatment with anticonvulsant drugs, immune modulation if necessary, and treatment of possible associated dysimmune and/or malignant conditions.