Impaired Sensation
Impaired sensation is the inability to perceive things accurately with the senses. Decreased sensations, tactile hypesthesia, hypoaethesia, lim...

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What Is Impaired Sensation?

Impaired sensation is the inability to perceive things accurately with the senses.

Alternative Names

Decreased sensations, tactile hypesthesia, hypoaethesia, limited sensation, reduced sensations.


Impaired sensation is often a signal that there something affecting a nerve or the nervous system. Changes in sensations are often subjective and difficult to describe, that is, experienced by the patient but difficult for the provider to diagnose and treat. Sensations are carried from the extremities of the body to the brain via peripheral nerves and then by neurons in the spinal cord. Damage to sensory nerve fibers can result in an inability to feel stimuli or determine the body’s position, making one vulnerable to injury. An example is an impaired ability to sense temperature with a hand or foot and suffering a burn or frostbite as a result.

Associated Diagnoses

  • Abetalipoproteinemia
  • Adult brain tumor
  • Chronic kidney failure
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Delirium
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Neuropathies
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Guillain-Barre syndrome
  • Head injury
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Intracerebral hemorrhage
  • Isolated nerve dysfunction
  • Lead poisoning
  • Leprosy
  • Medullary cystic disease
  • Opioid dependence
  • Primary cerebral lymphoma
  • Spinal cord abscess
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Ulnar nerve palsy

Diagnosis and Treatments

A complete history and physical will need to be done by an experienced clinician, and you may be referred to a neurologist or pain specialist. Diagnostic studies, including nerve stimulation (conduction) studies, X-rays, MRI scan or bone scan may be requested to determine the cause and extent of any disease process. Physical therapy may be indicated to avoid disuse and atrophy if the impaired sensation is interfering with normal function.

Call your provider if:

  • You experience impaired sensation with pain in an area that is persistent, especially if it becomes difficult to manage or move that part of the body.
  • If impaired sensation is a sudden or new onset and of more than a few minutes duration.
Written by: JC Jones MA, RN
Edited by:
Medically Reviewed by: Paul Auerbach, MD
Published By: Healthline Networks, Inc.
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