Stages of Neuropathy
Neuropathy is a chronic condition that results from damage to or compression of the nerves outside the spinal cord and brain. One suffering from neuropathy may experience a variety of symptoms, such as pain, tingling, numbness, burning, or weakness in the affected extremity. These symptoms often vary depending on how long the nerves have been compressed and the level of damage they have sustained. When a patient has neuropathy, it is beneficial to understand which stage they are currently at so our reconstructive plastic surgeons may evaluate the extent of nerve damage they have already experienced and what treatment options they may benefit from.
Stage One: Numbness & Pain
In this beginning stage, patients become aware that something feels “off” with the nerves in their hands and/or feet. They may feel pain, numbness, or a combination of the two somewhat infrequently. Individuals may also notice a problem with their balance or reflexes. The problem may not seem too severe during this stage, and many patients continue about their daily lives without seeking medical treatment. However, the sooner a patient seeks treatment for neuropathy, the better surgical outcomes may be.
Stage Two: Constant Pain
In this next stage, the patient’s pain becomes more apparent and becomes more difficult to endure. This stage is a great time to seek medical treatment and get to the root of the neuropathy before the nerves become more permanently damaged.
Stage Three: Intense Pain
In stage three, a patient will experience the worst of their pain, usually occurring every day. Many patients will have issues doing tasks that they used to be able to complete without hesitation, such as walking barefoot on the beach. This stage causes a huge impact on the everyday lives of the patient and is truly unbearable. This is the stage many of our patients decide to go with surgical intervention and have our surgeons perform nerve decompression surgery.
Stage Four: Complete Numbness/ Loss of Sensation
If a patient does not seek treatment for their neuropathy, they will begin to lose all feeling, and their risk of recurrent wounds and subsequent amputation will increase. It will be extremely difficult to balance if your affected area is your feet, and it will become troublesome to complete everyday tasks.