Small fiber neuropathy is different than large fiber neuropathy, which causes weakness and balance issues. But some people may develop both.

Researchers found the increase in the number of cases by looking at records of people diagnosed with small fiber neuropathy in Olmsted County, Minnesota, over the last 20 years.

Study author and Mayo Clinic neurologist Dr. Christopher Klein says the higher rates may be because of heightened awareness of the condition. And another factor could be an increase in obesity and diabetes. People in the study with small fiber neuropathy tended to have higher body mass indexes and were more likely to have diabetes, heart problems and insomnia.

Dr. Klein says the good news is that most people with this condition don't develop major impairments, but they should be screened for heart disease and diabetes.

The study was published in the journal Neurology, which is the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

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