We are often asked, “What types of exercises help with neuropathy?”. Before we delve into a conversation about exercise and neuropathy let’s take a look at the causes, symptoms, and treatment of this debilitating condition.
What is Neuropathy
Neuropathy is a disease of the nerves. There are many types of the condition with different causes. Medical treatment must be directed toward the underlying cause of the disease so it is important to see your doctor right away if you begin to display symptoms of the condition. The symptoms of neuropathy vary and can include muscle weakness, loss of sensation, numbness, tingling, and pain. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates that approximately 20 million Americans have some form of peripheral neuropathy.
Causes of Neuropathy
Neuropathy is considered a neurological disorder rather than one distinct disease. It may be either inherited or acquired. Causes of neuropathy may include:
- autoimmune diseases
- poor nutrition and vitamin deficiencies (especially vitamins B, E and niacin)
- exposure to poisons
- trauma or pressure on the nerve
- kidney, liver or thyroid disorders
- bone marrow disorders
- alcohol abuse
Medications That May Cause Neuropathy
For a complete list of medications that may cause neuropathy, along with additional information about the condition, visit the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy website. Generally speaking the categories of medications include:
- cancer fighting medications
- HIV/AIDS treatment drugs
- anti-alcohol drugs
- heart or blood pressure medications
- infection fighting drugs
- skin condition treatment drugs.
The majority of symptoms of neuropathy are sensory, typically affecting circulation in the hands and feet. Any compromise in circulation affects the smallest blood vessels first, then the smallest nerves, making exercise one way to help manage the condition. Nerve damage may cause a loss of “position sense” or “proprioception”. If this is the case, it is difficult to tell what position the affected hand, arm, foot, or leg is in. When this symptom is present in the arm or hand, it may be difficult to find the armhole of a shirt or to button a button. When it is present in the foot, ankle, and leg, balance and walking may be impaired. Symptoms of neuropathy include:
- heat intolerance
- gradual onset of numbness
- sharp, jabbing, burning pain
- extreme sensitivity to touch
- increased episodes of falling or lack of coordination
- difficulty using arms, legs, hands or feet
- numbness or tingling associated with pain
- muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis
The good news is that peripheral nerves have the ability to heal. It may take months but recovery is possible in some cases. As with other injuries, the condition may not go completely away. If you notice symptoms it is important to take action.
- Seek medical treatment right away to identify and manage the underlying cause and to prevent further damage.
- Eat healthy and maintain optimal weight.
- Control blood sugar levels if you have diabetes.
- Exercises help with neuropathy. Exercise daily.
- Avoid exposure to toxins including tobacco.
- Discuss amino acid supplementation with your doctor as well as other complimentary therapies
Exercises Help With Neuropathy
Making fitness a part of your daily routine can help address the muscle weakness related to neuropathy and can help reduce neuropathy pain. We continue to hear from viewers that Sit and Be Fit workouts and exercises help with neuropathy.
The types of exercises to help those managing neuropathy include:
- core strength (including strategies for managing center of gravity)
- balance (including a combination of vestibular and vision exercises)
- foot/toe/ankle/hand (including exercises for sensory stimulation, dexterity, flexibility and strength)
- vibration (including impact exercises with the feet and full body vibration)
- pressure and proprioception
- sensory stimulation
Click on the link below to access a free guide that outlines exercises for neuropathy. While exercise alone has not been shown to significantly affect the disease of the nerve itself, it can help to strengthen weak muscles, preserve range of motion of affected parts of the body, and improve balance. Here is a list of Sit and Be Fit resources for neuropathy.
- Exercises for Neuropathy (8 pages) Click HERE to download.
- Neuropathy Brochure (2 pages) Click HERE to download.
- Click HERE for a complete list of medications that may cause neuropathy compiled by the Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy.
- Neuropathy Workout DVD
Naboso Barefoot Technology
We are excited to share a new resource. Podiatrist, Dr. Emily Splichal, has designed textured insoles and mats to stimulate the sensory receptors on the bottom of the feet. You can read more about the research behind Naboso technology and how it can help those managing neuropathy at http://nabosotechnology.com/neuro-rehabilitation/
If you order Naboso proprioceptive insoles or standing mats , and would like to receive a 10% discount, enter the promo code SITFIT at checkout. The promo code can also be used when ordering by phone at 347-705-0702, Monday – Friday between 9am – 6pm EST.