How Physical Therapy Can Help Patients With Peripheral Neuropathy

When you’re suffering from chronic pain due to peripheral neuropathy, exercise may be the furthest thing from your mind as a possible solution. But physical therapy can improve muscle strength, coordination, and mobility, and it can reduce your pain.

And, as most cases of peripheral neuropathy are caused by diabetes, engaging in regular activity may improve blood sugar levels and reduce your risk of further nerve damage. In honor of National Diabetes Awareness Month, the team at Ohio Institute of Comprehensive Pain Management wants to emphasize the importance of exercise to those with diabetic neuropathy for both pain relief and blood sugar control.

Mervet Saleh, MD, and her team of pain specialists work to find ways to alleviate your pain, no matter the cause — not only looking at medications to manage symptoms, but also developing treatment plans that give you long-term relief and reduce your reliance on prescription medication.

A little about peripheral neuropathy

Your nerves act as the communication system between your brain and the rest of your body. They send signals that your feet are cold or that your finger hurts after you slammed it in the car door. Your nerves also signal your muscles to contract, including the ones you control, like those in your legs, and the ones you don’t, like those in your digestive system.

Types of nerves:

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition in which your nerves are damaged and no longer function properly. Any type of nerve can be affected, which means peripheral neuropathy may affect many systems in your body.

About 70% of diabetics have some form of peripheral neuropathy and are more likely to develop polyneuropathy, which is when many nerves are affected. People with diabetes are more at risk of developing peripheral neuropathy due to elevated blood sugars, which damage tiny nerve endings.

Physical therapy and peripheral neuropathy

Because peripheral neuropathy can affect any nerve and many body systems, symptoms are quite variable. In addition to pain, you may also experience:

Your physical therapist provides specialized testing, including muscle strength, reflexes, and sensory tests, to determine what nerves are affected and how the symptoms are impacting your life. Based on this information, your therapist can create an exercise program that helps improve how your body functions and helps relieve some of your symptoms.

Components of your physical therapy plan may include:

Strength-training exercises help build muscle to improve both strength and function, which help with balance and coordination. Better muscle function may also reduce peripheral pain.

Aerobic exercise helps burn up excess blood sugar, which reduces risk of further nerve damage for those with diabetic neuropathy. It also pushes more oxygen and blood to far-reaching nerve endings to help repair damage.

Continuing your exercises at home

Your physical therapist works out with you at the office and also provides a specialized program for you to follow at home. To get the greatest benefits from your physical therapy, it’s important to follow your home exercise program as directed. This not only helps you meet your therapy goals faster, but it also helps you maintain the improvements you’ve made in between visits and after you’ve completed your therapy sessions.

 

Dr. Saleh and her team at Ohio Institute for Comprehensive Pain Management aim to treat the underlying cause of your neuropathy pain. If you’re diabetic and want to find out more about managing peripheral neuropathy, take advantage of National Diabetes Awareness Month and call the office or use the online booking button to get expert pain management from a compassionate team.

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