Neuropathy is a disease of the nerves. There are many types of the disease with different causes. Medical treatment must be directed toward the underlying cause of the disease, so it is important to see your doctor.
The symptoms of neuropathy vary, and can include muscle weakness, loss of sensation, numbness, tingling, and pain. One of the senses that may be lost is “position sense” or “proprioception”. Because of the nerve damage, the person cannot tell what position the affected hand, arm, foot, or leg is in. When this is present in the arm or hand, it may be difficult to find the arm hole of a shirt or to button a button. When it is present in the foot, ankle, and leg, balance and walking may be impaired. A person with neuropathy can damage the ankle joint without realizing it, sprain the ankle, or fall because of poor position sense.
Exercise has not been shown to significantly affect the disease of the nerve itself, but it can help to strengthen weak muscles, preserve range of motion of affected parts of the body, and improve balance.
One of the hallmarks of Sit and Be Fit programming is the use of exercise accessories. When it comes to finger exercises and feet exercises, we encourage the use of a small 2-inch ball. Using a small ball to exercise is ESPECIALLY recommended for those managing neuropathy and diabetes. Ideally, the ball should have a little give to it, as opposed to a hard solid ball such as a golf ball. In our Sit and Be Fit programs we use a small ball with a rubber exterior and hollow interior. Using a small ball of this type to exercise the feet and fingers help to improve dexterity, strength, proprioception, somatosensory awareness, tactile stimulation and range of motion of fingers, feet and toes. Another benefit of using a small ball to exercise the feet and hands is the increase of feels wonderful when you roll the ball under the feet or between the hands.