How To Recognize the Different Stages of Peripheral Neuropathy

Peripheral neuropathy, like many conditions, does become worse over time. However, it’s not always easy to tell how much nerve damage you’re dealing with. That’s because the different stages of neuropathy aren’t always easy to recognize. However, it’s important that you do understand each stage. While peripheral neuropathy treatment will help you with the pain, it’s important that you begin treatment as soon as you can. If you catch it early, it’s much easier to reverse or reduce the amount of damage to your nerves. Let’s take a look at the five stages of peripheral neuropathy and how you can recognize each.

Stage One: Numbness and Pain

When peripheral neuropathy first starts, you’ll feel some pain and numbness off and on. These symptoms don’t occur all the time, and they’re often subtle. You may feel a little bit of discomfort in your foot, for example, every few weeks. In some cases, the symptoms may be so minor you go months between experiencing them. You may also notice that sensations on your feet aren’t as strong as they used to be and that your balance and reflexes are a little off. Most people ignore these symptoms because they’re so minor or rare that they don’t realize something is wrong.

Stage Two: More Regular Symptoms

When your peripheral neuropathy progresses to stage two, the pain and numbness will be more consistent and regular. It’s hard to say when you move from stage one to stage two, but one thing is certain: you’ll notice your symptoms more often. It becomes harder to ignore them. Many people in stage two realize that something is wrong and book an appointment with their doctor.

During stage two, it’s very likely that by treating the underlying condition beyond your neuropathy, you can fully cure the nerve damage. However, this is often the edge of no return. The next several stages often lead to permanent nerve damage.

Stage Three: The Pain Reaches Its High Point

When you enter stage three of peripheral neuropathy, you’re feeling a good amount of pain daily or almost every day. This pain is so great that it’s impacting your life in a number of negative ways. You may have tried several pain medications, but discovered that they don’t help. You’re also likely suffering from the other symptoms of nerve damage. Due to the nerve damage, you may not feel injuries to your lower legs and feet. It can also take much longer for cuts and other damage to your feet to heal, which can lead to festering wounds. Infection can set in if you’re not careful.

By stage three, while some of the damage can be reversed, some of it may be permanent if you don’t immediately begin working on the condition causing your neuropathy and working with us to treat the nerve damage.

Stage Four: Constant Numbness

By stage four, your lower legs and feet will start becoming very numb because there will no longer be any healthy nerves to carry signals to your brain. The pain will actually start to decline, but that’s not a good thing. It indicates that the nerves are dying. While the relief may be nice, it also shows that much of the small nerve fibers have disintegrated. The larger fibers are now beginning to become permanently damaged, too. Your balance is likely affected by this, and you may find that it’s difficult to walk.

At stage four, nerve damage is permanent. It’s still possible to see some improvement, but overall, you’re going to have to live with some of this numbness. You do need to seek treatment for whatever condition is causing the neuropathy right away. If it’s diabetes, it’s very likely you’re already experiencing other issues such as loss of eyesight or kidney damage.

Stage Five: Total Loss of Feeling

By stage five, you’ve lost all feeling in your lower legs and feet. You’re not in any pain because there are no longer any nerves capable of sending signals to your brain. It’s hard to walk, and you feel unsteady most of the time. You may actually have to use a wheelchair some or all of the time. Any small cut to your feet could become infected and lead to amputation.

This is a very serious condition. Your nerves are permanently damaged, and there’s no way to restore them to what they were originally. It may be possible to regenerate some of the nerve fibers, though, so there is hope. However, you have to treat your underlying condition immediately.

Do You Need Help with Neuropathy?

If you’re dealing with peripheral neuropathy, you need to work with medical professionals who are experienced with the condition. Here at Fox Integrated Healthcare, we help people reverse nerve damage on a daily basis. Contact us right away if you’re experiencing neuropathy so we can begin treating the condition.