For those suffering from neuropathy, staying active can become a challenge. By understanding the condition and its triggers you can learn what exercises and movements are still safe and effective.
What is neuropathy?
Neuropathy is a condition that occurs when your nerves become damaged. It’s estimated that neuropathy affects a little over two percent of the general population and about eight percent of those 55 and older. Neuropathy affects the peripheral nervous system that is in charge of things like voluntary muscle movement, involuntary organ activity, and sensory nerves. When these nerves become damaged, it can cause pain as well as difficulty moving.
What causes neuropathy?
Neuropathy can either be acquired by birth or can develop later in life due to another illness or condition. The neurological disorder Charcot-Marie Tooth disease is the most common form of inherited neuropathy. It affects 1 in every 2,500 people in the United States.
For those who develop neuropathy later in life, there are several conditions that may be to blame. These include:
- Kidney Disorders
- Chemical Imbalances due to liver diseases
- Alcohol Abuse
- Blood diseases and blood vessel damage
- Vitamin deficiencies (specifically E, B1, B6, B12, and Niacin)
- Physical trauma
Other medical conditions like HIV, Shingles, and Lyme Disease can also lead to neuropathy.
Of all of the possible causes, diabetes is the most common. High blood sugar can injure nerves throughout your body. For diabetics, this is usually seen in the legs and feet. In order to avoid developing neuropathy if you’re a diabetic it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and remain active.
What are the symptoms of neuropathy?
The symptoms of neuropathy will vary depending on which nerves are affected. When the peripheral nerves are affected symptoms can include:
- Inability to feel pain or temperature changes
- Muscle weakness
- Loss of balance
- Increased sensitivity to touch
- Loss of balance, coordination, and reflexes
If a patient is experiencing neuropathy within the automated nervous system other problems may arise such as:
- Bladder control issues
- Difficulty swallowing
- Increased heart rate when you’re resting
- Stomach issues (nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, bloating)
When neuropathy affects the nerves in the lower body (thighs, legs, buttocks) patients may experience sudden or severe pains in those areas as well as weak muscles and weight loss.
If only a specific nerve is involved, symptoms can include:
- Difficulty focusing
- Partial paralysis on one side of the face
- Pain in the chest, abdomen, thigh
Is there a cure for neuropathy?
Some forms of neuropathy can be cured; each case is different. But for the most part it’s about pain management and therapy. Receiving care from the Pain Care Clinic of Idahocan help if you are experiencing some of the many symptoms of neuropathy. Professionals can help pinpoint a specific therapy that will help you deal with your neuropathy issues. Other treatments can include pain medications and cream. In many cases symptoms will lessen but may not completely go away. It’s best to talk to your doctor to determine the best line of treatment for your specific case.
How can I stay active with neuropathy?
One of the best ways to treat neuropathy is to try to remain active. While you may think it is virtually impossible to keep moving through the pain, there are exercises you can do that will help.
Seated exercises with weights
Sit in a sturdy chair or on a balance ball. Choose a pair of hand-held weights that is challenging but manageable. From here you can do arm raises, bicep curls, or any other movement you’d like with the weights while staying seated.
Find the right cardio active
An appropriate cardio active can be anything from walking to swimming depending on what you feel comfortable doing. Some people enjoy water activities because of the soothing benefits of water therapy. A stationary bike indoors is also a popular activity for some with neuropathy.
Ask your doctor about simple stretches you can do at home to keep your joints flexible. A yoga class may also be a possibility if that interests you.
Maintaining balance can be difficult for those with neuropathy. Doing balance exercises regularly can improve balance and stability.
Non-weight bearing exercises are usually most recommended for those with neuropathy. Always consult with your doctor before beginning any form of exercise. Also be sure to have the proper footwear. Not doing so can lead to foot problems for those with neuropathy.
Why should I stay active with neuropathy?
It is extremely important to stay active with neuropathy to improve muscle strength. Exercising regularly can help with heart issues and increase blood flow. Keeping active can also help maintain appropriate glucose levels. Since most neuropathy cases are attributed to diabetes, keeping an eye on glucose levels is crucial. Anything that can be done to keep them at an appropriate level can help with neuropathy and other diabetic issues.
For more information on how to deal with neuropathy, contact the Pain Care Clinic of Idaho at (208) 629-2492. Let their team of experts help you determine what treatments can help to ease your pain.