Experience and Understanding of Sensory Neuropathy in the Filipino Context

Constantine L. Yu Chua1 and Paul Matthew D. Pasco2

1Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, College of Medicine and
Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines Manila
2Department of Neurosciences, College of Medicine and
Philippine General Hospital, University of the Philippines Manila

Background. Locally, understanding and communicating sensory neuropathy may be confounded by a “comprehension gap” during consults and limited “nerve literacy” or knowledge of patients about nerves. This may affect the effectiveness of healthcare.

Objective. The study aims to describe the Filipino patients’ experience of sensory neuropathy in local terms and their understanding of its causation.

Methods. A cross-sectional, descriptive study among 24 patients with sensory neuropathy was done using semi-structured individual interviews. The first part elicited Filipino terms and descriptions used to explain their experience. The second part elicited perceived cause pre- and post- consult and perceived body part affected.

Results. The most common descriptors of sensory neuropathy include “manhid”, “kuryente”, “tinutusuk-tusok”, “ngalay”, “kirot”, and “naninigas”. Many would initially identify “pasma” as a cause. Post-consult, many would cease to see it as part of natural ageing and would identify structural explanations such as impingement. They would however attribute it to an affectation of "ugat" which most defined as blood vessels.

Conclusion. The abovementioned terms are commonly used to describe sensory neuropathy and can be clinically useful in eliciting symptoms. There is existing confusion with regards to the nerve as a structure involved even after consultation.

Key Words: sensory neuropathy, nerve literacy, Filipino