Peripheral Neuropathy Treatment | 9 Tips On How to Handle Neuropathy in Feet!
How to Stay Active with Neuropathy
Neuropathy is a painful condition that is often the result of nerve damage, commonly resulting from diabetes.You may experience pain, tingling, burning, and/or numbness, which can interfere with your physical activities. Research shows that exercising, for example aerobics, strengthening, and balancing exercises, may reduce neuropathic pain, improve muscle strength, and help control blood sugar levels.Therefore, exercise is important if you want to stay active while suffering from neuropathic pain. Aerobic exercise like swimming and stationary bikes are low-impact exercises that are easy on the joints. However, always discuss any exercise programs with your doctor before engaging in them. If your pain is preventing you from exercising, discuss other pain management options with your doctor. These include cognitive therapy and medications.
Using Aerobics to Stay Active
Take a brisk walk.Walk outside or on a treadmill. If you haven’t been very active, start out by walking for five to ten minutes per day. Gradually increase your time by adding five minutes to your walk each week. Ideally, you want to walk for 30 minutes a day, three to five times per week.
- Alternatively, you can break up your 30 minute walks into increments of 10, for example, walk for 10 minutes after each meal.
- Make sure to use a cane, walking stick, or walker when you walk if you do not have good balance.
Swim.Swimming is great for neuropathic patients because it is very low impact, helps control swelling, and regulates blood pressure. Falls are also less of a concern because of the water, so it is safer to do vigorous exercise. It’s an exercise that involves many muscle groups without putting too much strain on the joints. Patients whose pain prevents them from walking or cycling can choose swimming as an alternative.
- Swim for 30 minutes, three to five times a week.
- Water aerobic classes are also great. Find one at your local gym.
Try a stationary bicycle indoors.Stationary bicycles are also low impact exercises that are easy on the joints. You can either purchase a stationary bike, or get a gym membership. Bike for 30 minutes, two to three times per week.
- Stationary bikes cost around 0 to 0. Alternatively, you can purchase a mini exercise bike for .
Increasing Your Balance
Do a hip flexion exercise.Start by holding onto a chair or table with one hand. While holding onto the chair, stand straight. Then, begin to gradually raise one knee to your chest. Do not bend your waist or hips. When your knee reaches the height of your hips, hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Lower your leg and repeat the process with your other leg.
- Repeat this twice for each leg and twice a day. Do this exercise three to five times a week.
- Increase the difficulty of the exercise each week by balancing yourself with your fingertip instead of your hand. Then try no hands and no hands with your eyes closed.
Try a hip extension exercise.Stand 12 to 16 inches (.3 to .4 meters) away from a piece of furniture, like table or chair. Hold the chair with your hand. Slightly bend at the hips and gradually lift one leg backwards. The other leg should be straight. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Lower your leg and repeat the process with your other leg.
- Do two repetitions for each leg twice per day, three to five times per week.
- Increase the difficulty of the exercise each week by balancing yourself with your fingertip instead of your hand, then no hands, finally, no hands with your eyes closed.
Do side leg raises.With your feet slightly apart, stand straight behind a table or chair. Place your hand on the chair for balance. Gradually lift one leg 6 to 12 inches (.15 to .3 meters) to the side. Hold for 5 to 10 seconds. Your back and knees should be straight throughout the exercise. Gradually lower your leg and repeat the process with your other leg.
- Repeat this twice for each leg, two times a day. Do this exercise three to five times a week.
- Increase the difficulty of the exercise each week by balancing yourself with your fingertip instead of your hand. Then try no hands and, finally, no hands with your eyes closed.
Walk heel to toe.Walking heel to toe is also known as the tandem stance walk and it is a good way to improve your balance. Start by standing and then take a step forward with one foot. Then, take the other foot and place the heel right up against the toe of your other foot. Then, take the back foot and step forward in the same way, ending with the heel of your front foot against the toe of your back foot. Continue to step forward in this way slowly and carefully to keep your balance.
- Try walking back and forth across a room a few times. Repeat this exercise three to five times per week.
Strengthening Your Muscles
Exercise your calves.Stand facing the kitchen counter. Place two hands on the counter for balance. Standing on one foot, bend your other knee backwards and lift your foot. Then, raise yourself onto your toes with your standing foot. Hold for one second. Come down from your tiptoes and slowly lower your foot. Repeat with your other leg.
- Do this 10 to 15 times for each leg twice. Do this exercise three to five times a week.
- After a week or two, increase the difficulty of this exercise by balancing yourself with your fingertips instead of your hands.
Try chair squats.Find a solid chair with armrests. Stand in front of the chair. Position your feet so that one foot is at the base of the chair. Place the other foot in front and out to the side, i.e., like scissors. Place your hands on the chair’s armrests behind you for balance. Slowly lower your hips to the chair. Once your hips touch the chair, slowly raise yourself back up for the next repetition.
- Do not plop, sit, or rest in the chair in between squats.
- Repeat 10 to 15 times. Do two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions twice a day, three to five times per week.
Do seated dorsiflexion exercises.Sit on the front half of a steady chair, i.e., your thighs should not be supported by the chair. Place your feet apart and flat on the ground in front of you. Slowly flex your toes and feet up as high as you can. Then, lower your feet and toes down. Repeat this 10 to 15 times.
- Do three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions twice a day, three to five times per week.
- Make this exercise more challenging by placing your feet closer to your body.
Managing Your Pain
Consult your doctor.While exercises and exercise programs are beneficial for alleviating chronic pain, you must discuss them with your doctor before engaging in them. Your doctor will be able to recommend an exercise program that is tailored to your individual needs, as well as recommend safety precautions.
- Also discuss other pain management options with your doctor to help you stay active.
Try cognitive therapy.Some patients use cognitive therapy as an alternative to medications in order to manage their pain. Psychologists trained in cognitive therapy help patients utilize their own body’s ability to increase natural chemicals, which are known to reduce pain. This is often done through relaxation and visualization techniques.
- A well-known psychologist at the University of Alabama, Beverly E. Thorn, has researched the benefits of cognitive therapy for managing neuropathic pain. She or her staff may be able to recommend a cognitive therapist in your area.
Consider medication.Neuropathic pain is primarily treated with two classes of drugs: antidepressants and anti-seizure medications. While these medications have helped patients, sometimes the side effects are worse than the patient’s neuropathic symptoms. In severe cases, opiates are used to treat pain.
- With patients who have localized pain or cannot take oral medications, topical pain relieving medications, i.e., topical anesthetics, are used.
- When considering medications, discuss the comorbidities, symptoms, and contraindications of each medication with your doctor. Also, take into consideration your lifestyle, history of mental health problems, and your existing medication history before choosing a medication.
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