If you suffer from neuropathy, physical therapy treatment could help reduce pain, improve balance, and help with other symptoms. Neuropathy symptoms happen when the nerves except for the brain and spinal cord suffer damage.
What Are the Peripheral Nerves?
Peripheral nerves do not include the brain and spinal cord, which are the central nervous system. Instead, the peripheral nervous system consists of the nerves that send information to the spinal cord and brain.
What Is Peripheral Neuropathy?
Because the peripheral nerves stretch all over the body, peripheral neuropathy has several symptoms, making it difficult to diagnose. The common symptoms tend to show up in the hands and feet as weakness, numbness, and pain. Symptoms also show up in the digestive and circulatory systems.
Along with weakness and numbness, people with peripheral nerve damage have specific descriptions of the pain. Often they describe it as burning or stabbing. Those who experience numbness talk about having a tingling sensation.
Nerve damage can come from traumatic injuries, but it can also come from internal causes like infections, tumors, hypothyroidism, or metabolic issues like diabetes. Excessive exposure to toxins and genetic problems can also cause neuropathy.
Fortunately, health care providers can treat peripheral neuropathy. Medications help, and so does physical therapy.
Symptoms of Neuropathy
People who have neuropathy can have several symptoms. Because the peripheral nerves include sensory, motor, and autonomic nerves, the symptoms can show up as pain, weakness, numbness, extreme sensitivity, lack of coordination, and paralysis.
Peripheral neuropathy can also affect blood pressure, perspiration, and bladder functioning. Some people with peripheral neuropathy have lightheadedness and dizziness.
Treating Neuropathy with Physical Therapy
Physical therapy for neuropathy has proven to be a successful treatment method. Providers often suggest various types of exercise to reduce pain, strengthen muscles, and control blood sugar levels. Physical therapists help patients develop a routine that includes aerobic exercise and exercises to help develop flexibility, strength, and balance.
During physical therapy for neuropathy, providers suggest that patients do exercises that increase their heart rates but do not cause pain to the extremities. Some helpful aerobic exercises include swimming and water aerobics, pedaling on a stationary bicycle, and walking inside or on a treadmill.
Before engaging in aerobic exercises, patients should also stretch their legs, feet, arms, and hands. Physical therapists will teach their patients how to safely stretch their calves, hamstrings, and the bottom of their feet.
Physical therapists will also help their patients do gentle strength training exercises. Many of them involve chairs and other supports like counters and tables to reduce pressure on peripheral nerves in the feet. Often, the same strength training exercises also help improve balance.
Rather than living with the pain, numbness, and weakness from peripheral neuropathy, physical therapists can offer solutions that decrease the uncomfortable sensations related to this disorder.
Call Mid-County Physical Therapy today to start on your path to recovery with our physical therapy solutions!