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Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is rarely seen in the United States, but it is common in developing countries and is one of the leading causes of peripheral neuropathy worldwide. Leprosy is a chronic bacterial disease involving the skin and nerves. It is characterized by potentially disfiguring skin lesions, peripheral nerve damage, and progressive debilitation. Neurological damage caused by leprosy may result in sensory loss, particularly in the hands and feet. Leprosy is difficult to transmit from person-to-person and has a long incubation period, which makes it difficult to determine where or when the disease in a particular individual was contracted. Children are more susceptible than adults to contracting the disease.

Symptoms & Signs

(Not all symptoms and signs may be present.)

It’s possible to have no symptoms, or to have symptoms that appear suddenly and then vanish, without the patient or doctor noticing or understanding the cause. The symptoms will vary, depending upon the parts of the body that are affected.

Symptoms may include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Numbness, pain or tingling in feet or hands
  • Skin lesions

Evaluation & Tests

Treatment & Therapy

(Not all treatments and therapies may be indicated.)

Treatment focuses on relieving pain by reducing inflammation, slowing joint and bone damage and improving the ability to function with the disease.

  • Antibiotics
  • Corticosteroids 
  • Multidrug therapy:
    • Diaphenylsulfone (Dapsone®),
    • Rifampicin (Rifadin®)
    • Clofazimine (Lamprene®)
  • Physical therapy / splints
  • Surgery may be necessary
  • Take safety measures to compensate for loss of sensation

FPN's Support Groups

The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy is connected to over 100 Support Groups in the U.S.A. and Canada, as well as several virtual groups.

The goal of our Support Groups is to offer tips and support to patients and caregivers and offer a sense of community to those who want to be a part of something bigger.