How can physical therapy help people with peripheral neuropathy?
Peripheral neuropathy (PN) is a condition that affects the nerves of the body and results in a variety of symptoms including pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness that usually affects the hands and feet. A common cause of PN is diabetes, but it can also result from various injuries, infections, and overuse conditions. It can also be a side effect of certain medications. Current treatment for PN is centered on medications which may help the pain and numbness.
But how can physical therapy help? Physical therapists play an important role in helping individuals improve and maintain functions that may be limited by PN. Your physical therapist will work with you to develop a treatment plan to help address your specific needs and goals. Your physical therapist may provide the following recommendations and care: Aerobic Exercise. Aerobic exercise, such as walking or biking, increases your heart rate, raises your breathing rate, and works your muscles. Whole-body movements help increase circulation in the body which can facilitate healing and prevent further damage to affected nerves. Strength Training. Strengthening exercises help make muscles stronger and more injury-resistant. It can help regain strength in areas of the body that have been affected by PN. Stretching. Stretching exercises help keep your joints flexible and reduce your chances of injury during other activities. Balance and Coordination Activities. Your physical therapist may work on strategies to improve your balance and coordination, both of which may be affected by PN. Improving balance and coordination can help decrease your risk of falling. Education. Your physical therapist will educate you on how to safely manage PN. The education provided will be individualized based on your goals and may focus on improving your safety, preventing further complications, and finding alternative ways to perform certain tasks.
Rachel Gorman, PT DPT
Restore PT & Wellness/FYZICAL Ashburn