Peripheral neuropathy refers to a condition that occurs when your nervous system becomes damaged. You may not know how much nerve damage you have, as the phases of the disease are not easy to identify.
It is essential to understand the stages of the condition. If you catch it early, reversal of the nerve damage becomes possible. Below are the five stages of peripheral neuropathy and how to easily recognize each.
Peripheral neuropathy begins with pain and numbness. You will notice the symptoms occur occasionally but not persistently. You may experience a tingling in your feet and arms that comes and goes.
Another sign during the first stage is that you will notice your reflexes and balance becoming slightly out of tune. Most times, you will experience such symptoms after a few weeks; with time, they will occur more consistently. Most people ignore the signs of neuropathy during the first stage as they are usually subtle.
During the second stage of the condition, your numbness and pain occur regularly and become more consistent. The pain will become significant, and you will feel more numbness than before.
During this stage, ignoring the numbness and the pain becomes difficult. Most patients start realizing they have a problem and see their doctors for help.
If peripheral neuropathy is diagnosed by the second stage, you have a high chance of treating the nerve damage. But if the condition remains untreated past this stage, the nerve damage that follows is usually permanent.
The third stage of peripheral neuropathy is where you will experience pain every day due to nerve damage. The pain will begin affecting how you go about your usual activities. At this stage, over-the-counter pain medication will stop working, leaving you in desperate need to alleviate the pain.
You still have a chance to reverse the nerve damage. But in most cases, it is usually permanent.
During the fourth stage of the disease, your feet and legs start becoming numb. You lack nerves that are healthy enough to send your brain signals. You will begin noticing reduced pain and an increase in numbness. When you feel this way, you should know that your nerve fibers are becoming disintegrated as your nerves die. During this stage, your large nerve fibers are becoming damaged irreversibly.
Your balance will start becoming affected, and working will become hard. The numbness you will experience will be irreversible as the nerve damage that happens is permanent. It is essential to seek urgent medical help to prevent further irreversible numbness. However, you still stand a slight chance for improvement.
Losing feeling in your feet and legs is the last stage of peripheral neuropathy. At this point, you will feel severe numbness and not pain as your brain will not receive any signals from your nerves. You will have difficulty walking, and the disease will affect your balance that you may need a wheelchair to move around.
It is essential to seek medical help at this final stage of peripheral neuropathy. In this last phase of the condition, your nerves become damaged permanently. You lose all feeling in your lower limbs. However, it is possible to regenerate some of your nerve fibers.
For more about peripheral neuropathy, call the Pain and Laser Centers of North Carolina at (336) 815-5800 to reach our office in Greensboro, North Carolina.