Neuropathy is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide and can place extreme limitations on a person’s mobility and functionality. Neuropathy is a complex condition that can have an effect on the body’s nervous system. Neuropathy can be considered a collection of disorders that develop when damaged to the peripheral nervous system occurs. The peripheral nervous system refers to the part of the nervous system outside of the brain and spinal cord; when damage occurs to the nerve cells or nerve axons, it is called peripheral neuropathy. Neuropathy is a painful condition that can have an effect on an individual’s life and their ability to maintain a normal active life
Treating neuropathy is the only way one can find relief from the painful symptoms of neuropathy. Neuropathy symptoms are often chronically felt and force a person off his or her feet as well as cause them to limit their desire to move about so the patient restricts his or herself to one particular location- a chair. By limiting movement the patient believes he or she is doing his or her body good when in fact the patient is doing further harm. As the muscles go unused they begin to stiffen and lose their mobility thus creating further pain and the threat of the loss of mobility.
Loosening Stiff Muscles
Therapy is an excellent tool to help with neuropathy pain. Therapy lessens pain while helping improve mobility. With neuropathy in feet every step is painful and regardless of terrain the pain is excruciating and overwhelming. All activity stops unless an effective treatment is found and implemented. Simple pleasures such as walking on the beach or running barefoot in the grass becomes agonizing and not the slightest bit enjoyable this is where therapy comes in handy. There are three different types of therapy that can help soothe and lessen neuropathy pain.
Physical therapy there is several goals or objectives to participating in physical therapy after being diagnosed with neuropathy.
- Maintaining a full range of motion
- Strengthening muscles that may have been weakened from the effect of neuropathy
Though a neuropathic patient may reach their goal of movement and pain tolerance when walking, it would be unwise to stop participating in physical therapy. Neuropathy patients should continue to adhere to their physical therapist maintenance instructions to avoid taking a step backwards in their therapy progress. For those neuropathic patients that suffer from diabetic neuropathy specifically should not solely rely on physical therapy as their form of neuropathy treatment, diabetic neuropathy sufferers must focus their time and energy on maintaining their blood sugar levels as their first and foremost form of neuropathy treatment.
Due to the devastation that neuropathy can have on an individual’s life and daily normality, it is often advised that the recently diagnosed neuropathy patient seek out occupational therapy. Occupational therapy is vital in helping newly diagnosed neuropathy patients learn coping mechanisms on how to live life with their new diagnosis. Occupational therapy can assist the patient by teaching valuable new life skills as well as limit the devastating impact that peripheral neuropathy can have on daily life by:
- Improving sensory motor skills
- Educates patients on how to avoid dangerous toxins and prevent exposing themselves to industrial or environmental hazards
- How to self-care
- Educates neuropathy patients on the importance of observation such as terrain changes, safely walking up and down stairs etc.
- How to safely sit, stand and walk that will not risk a drop in blood pressure or cause them to fall.
Massage therapy is looked at as a complimentary therapy that when used in combination with other treatments can be beneficial in reducing nerve pain. One complication of neuropathy is the development of still muscles due to poor circulation or from lack of use. Adding weekly massage therapy sessions, one can improve blood circulation as well as help loosen stiffened muscles thus providing relief to the damaged area. It appears as though research has shown through several studies that massage therapy has a way of calming the stressed nerve endings and relinquishing the pent up stress found in the nerve endings.
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