Neuropathy – What to expect with advanced neuropathy

Neuropathy is nerve damage that affects the peripheral nerves and can have many different causes. The most common type of neuropathy is diabetic neuropathy, where high blood sugar causes nerve damage. However, exposure to toxins, drugs (e.g. chemotherapy), alcohol and nutrient deficiencies can all lead to neuropathy. 

Advanced stages of neuropathy can result in the most extreme and painful symptoms. To manage these painful symptoms, different drug therapies are used to keep symptoms under control. These can range from non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs all the way to opioids.

Some individuals are prescribed multiple different drugs to control different pain sources, which can have dangerous side effects. While it is important to keep painful symptoms under control, these strategies do not address the nerve damage that is causing the symptoms.

In advanced cases of diabetic neuropathy, it is possible for injuries to the foot and lower leg to go unnoticed because of a loss of sensation. These injuries can progress to open wounds and ulcers. Because of the poor blood flow to the feet, these injuries can heal very slowly if at all. In the event of an infection, it is very likely that an amputation will occur. In fact, over 70% of amputations occur as a result of diabetic wounds.

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