Peripheral nerves are those outside of the brain and spinal cord. Peripheral neuropathy is a result of damage to the nerves which can cause weakness, numbness, and pain. This usually occurs in the hands and feet. People with peripheral neuropathy usually explain the pain as burning, stabbing, or tingling. Let’s learn more about neuropathy stages and pain management.
Recognizing the Stages
If you have peripheral neuropathy, you don’t always recognize any changes to your symptoms. Treatment will, of course, help to relieve any pain as long as you begin treatment as soon as possible. Catching it early gives you and Madison Meddical Associates the opportunity to reverse or reduce the damage to the nerves.
Stage One: Intermittent Numbness
When someone experiences stage one of peripheral neuropathy, it is so subtle it can be forgotten about within a few minutes. Maybe you feel some numbness climbing steps or a little pain when getting up from a chair. You might not have those symptoms again for weeks or months, so they are quickly overlooked.
Stage Two: Symptoms Become More Regular
Once you reach stage two of peripheral neuropathy, you notice some changes. You feel the numbness and/or pain more frequently, and you wonder what is going on. Many patients see Madison Meddical Associates at this point wanting to know the causes.
Those who seek medical care at this stage and discover the cause are more likely to get treatment and the nerve damage does not progress.
Stage Three: Pain Is Relentless
By the time a patient reaches stage three, the pain is almost constant. In addition to pain, the numbness has also progressed to the point where you don’t feel injuries to your feet and legs. If they are not treated in a timely manner, infections can occur.
If a patient begins pain management treatments at this stage, the chance of improving symptoms and even the neuropathy itself increases. This is dependent on finding the root cause of the nerve damage.
Stage Four: Numbness Increases, Pain Decreases
You may think this is a positive thing, but it is not. You feel no pain because the nerves no longer communicate with your brain. Numbness is all you have.
Your ability to walk can be compromised, balance may become an issue. Temperature sensitivity is decreased, and reflexes are damaged. Your nerves are dying.
By this time the numbness is permanent.
Stage Five: No Feeling At All
At this stage the patient may need a wheelchair. Any injury or minor cut to the feet or legs can become infected necessitating amputation. There is no way to restore the damaged nerves. The only small positive step is to treat the underlying cause.
Causes and Pain Management Treatments for Peripheral Neuropathy
Finding the cause is the beginning. It could be one of the following:
- Diabetes and unchecked blood glucose. 60-70% of diabetics have peripheral neuropathy. Under-managed diabetic peripheral neuropathy is the most common cause of limb amputations each year, totaling 64,000.
- Chemo-induced peripheral neuropathy
- HIV-related peripheral neuropathy
Risk factors include smoking, alcohol abuse, repetitive stress, vitamin deficiency, toxic substances, and immune system disorders.
The FDA has approved some combined treatments.
- RST Electrical Cell Signaling Therapy
- Nerve Stimulation Therapy
- Physical therapy
- PRP injections
- Vitamin injections
- Class IV laser treatments
- Mechanical spine and extremity therapy
- Nutritional and lifestyle consultations: avoid smoking, engage in regular exercise, healthy foods, and manage diabetes.
Don’t wait to ask for treatment. As soon as you have reached stage two, ask Madison Medical Associates for a diagnosis and the best treatment options for you. Call (256) 325-1160 to schedule an appointment at our medical center in /madison, AL today.