Physiotherapists play a vital role in helping individuals improve and maintain functions that may be limited by Peripheral Neuropathy (PN). PN has a variety of causes, types and symptoms and therefore it is essential for each treatment plan to be tailored to help address each patient address their specific needs and goals. Physiotherapy may be helpful in maintaining strength, mobility, and function regardless of the underlying cause of PN.
Research has shown that strengthening exercises for peripheral neuropathy moderately improve muscle strength in people with PN. In addition, exercises to help peripheral neuropathy, when done regularly, may reduce neuropathic pain and can help control blood sugar levels.
The goals and treatment options associated with Peripheral Neuropathy are as follows:
- Decrease pain and numbness
- There are many different treatment options to help manage the patient’s symptoms, such as hands-on soft tissue work, stretching, and nerve glides. Nerve gliding/flossing are effective exercises to help ‘unstick’ the affected nerves. This type of treatment helps manage mononeuropathies (peripheral neuropathy where only one nerve is affected)
- Improving overall function by maintaining or improving range of motion
- This can be achieved through hands-on soft tissue work, passive range of motion or home exercises/stretching
- A physiotherapist can also recommend moderate-intensity exercises that are best suited for the patient, which will help improve their physical function
- Maintain or improve strength
- A specific series of exercises would be taught given a patient’s current strength, endurance and tolerance
- Prevention of falls
- Balance training and coordination exercises will be prescribed, as well as discussing strategies for home to help prevent a future fall
- Physiotherapists can also recommend braces and/or splints to enhance balance and posture
- Your physiotherapist may educate the patient on how to safely manage PN. The education will vary based on individual needs, and may focus on improving safety, preventing further complications, and finding alternative ways to perform certain tasks.