What is Neuropathy?
Neuropathy is damage to the peripheral nervous system resulting in weakness, decreased sensation, and sometimes pain. Multiple factors can cause neuropathy including, but not limited to vitamin B12 deficiency, chemotherapy, spinal stenosis, diabetes, or direct injury to the peripheral nerve itself through trauma. People suffering from neuropathy may experience increased risk of falls, decreased stability when walking, and difficulty with ADL’s (Activities of Daily Living) such as dressing and bathing. These complications can affect one’s social life, driving capabilities, ability to safely perform functions at work and home, and overall quality of life.
How can Physical Therapy help?
Research has found that when performed safely, exercise can improve nerve fiber branching and reduce pain in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. A qualified Physical Therapist is able to evaluate each patient to determine which impairments may be affecting one’s function and develop an individualized program that caters to their needs. Neuropathy can alter the way that a person walks and may lead to an increased risk of ulcers on the feet. Physical Therapists are trained in analyzing gait patterns and working with people to minimize those deviations. Most patients can expect their treatments to focus on improving their gait, balance, strength, and endurance. In addition, they can expect to be trained in a safe and effective home exercise program tailored to their specific needs.
Physical therapy has been found to help reduce chronic pain through increasing muscle strength, endurance, joint stability and muscle and joint mobility. A physical therapist may also use a variety of modalities such as ultrasound, hot or cold packs, and/or electric muscle stimulation which can help reduce pain to assist in returning to a higher level of activity. Other ways in which a physical therapist can work to improve a patient’s function is by helping to determine the least restrictive and most effective assistive device and/or bracing options to reduce the risk of injury. If you are suffering from signs and symptoms of neuropathy, schedule an appointment with a physical therapist for an evaluation and individualized treatment plan.
Contact us to see how PTS can help YOU today! Although no physician referral is needed to see a physical therapist, some insurance companies may require a referral for coverage.