Neuropathy is an umbrella term for a variety of ailments resulting from damage to the peripheral nerves. Also known as peripheral neuropathy, it causes numbness, tingling, and pain in the extremities, along with other, sometimes more serious symptoms. Neuropathy treatment works best in the early stages of the condition, so it’s important to be able to identify the stages of neuropathy. Neuropathy develops in five stages:
The first stage is subtle. Pain and numbness, usually felt in the hands and feet, come and go sporadically. Because it’s manageable, many people ignore these symptoms. However, because the leading cause of neuropathy at this stage is excessive sugar consumption, it can be treated with dietary changes like cutting out simple carbs, junk food, and sweets.
Pain and numbness become more consistent in stage two. It can be hard to know when the condition has progressed from the first to the second stage, but if symptoms are becoming more prevalent, that’s a good indication. Most people seek medical care at this stage, which is good, because when the underlying cause of neuropathy is addressed at this stage, the condition can often be fully cured. If allowed to progress into the later stages, neuropathy can cause permanent nerve damage. So, what are the end stages of neuropathy?
The pain peaks in the third stage. The symptoms of neuropathy are persistent, and the pain is nearly unbearable. There’s also numbness that’s so severe that it’s dangerous, as the person won’t notice injuries like burns and cuts. The injuries that occur in stage three can lead to serious conditions like sepsis and gangrene. In the worst case scenario, these infections will lead to amputation or death. However, there are still some treatments and lifestyle changes that can ease the symptoms.
In the fourth stage, numbness sets in. At this stage, nerve damage is so severe that there aren’t any healthy nerves sending signals to the brain. The pain recedes, but only because the nerves are dying. People in the fourth stage of neuropathy have less control over balance, and it’s harder to walk. There is treatment that can bring some improvement, but ultimately, the nerve damage is permanent at this point.
By the time a person reaches the fifth and final stage, the nerves are almost completely dead. The person cannot walk without assistant and may need a wheelchair to get around. The risk of amputation and other complications is extremely high.
Could you have neuropathy? Would you know how to know if you have nerve damage? Only a doctor can diagnose neuropathy, so if you have symptoms reflecting the first two stages, it’s best to seek medical treatment as soon as you can. There are steps you can take toward preventing neuropathy, like managing your diabetes, refraining from smoking, exercising regularly, and eating a nutrient-dense diet. Avoid repetitive motions, overindulging in alcohol, and other activities that can cause nerve damage. Go over your medications with your doctor to make sure they aren’t causing your symptoms, and take supplements if you’re suffering from a vitamin deficiency.
If you need help preventing or treating neuropathy, trust Oregon Medical Centers to help. Founded in 1989 as First Choice Chiropractic, Oregon Medical Centers was established in 2018 after adding Medical Providers and becoming an integrated medical facility. Specialists in treating car accident and workplace injuries, we also treat conditions like sciatica, pinched nerves, TMJ, neck and back pain, headaches, joint pain, and much more. We offer chiropractic care, physical therapy, massage, and regenerative medicine, and we specialize in diagnosing and treating chronic pain. Our dedicated medical team provides high-level care and compassion for patients in a collaborative environment where patients get the best possible treatment. What’s more, our insurance department assists in the insurance process, to alleviate stress for patients and allow them to focus on getting better. For more information, to find a location, or to schedule an appointment, call (503) 390-1552 in Salem, (503) 642-2845 in Aloha, or contact us through our website.