Page 36 - Wallingford Magazine Holiday 2020 Issue 30
P. 36

Physical Therapy CAN Help Your Neuropathy!
by Dr. Chris Mulvey, DPT
President, FYZICAL Corporate Clinics
Peripheral neuropathy, often just called “neuropathy,” is a condition that interferes with the peripheral nervous system. The peripheral nervous system includes three types of nerves that connect the brain and spinal cord to the rest of the body:
• Sensory nerves carry signals from your senses to your brain, such as when you smell food;
• Motor nerves carry signals from your brain to your muscles, telling them to move;
• Autonomic nerves control unconscious body func- tions, such as digestion and heart rate.
Neuropathy occurs when any of these nerves are dam- aged. This distorts the messages sent to or from the brain.
CAUSES OF NEUROPATHY
Many different things can cause nerve damage lead- ing to neuropathy.
Diabetes is one of the most common causes of neu- ropathy. About 25 to 30 percent of Americans will develop neuropathy at some point in their life, but this rate in- creases to 60 to 70 percent among people with diabetes.
Trauma and physical injury are the most common cause of neuropathy involving a single nerve.
Problems with blood vessels, such as decreased oxy- gen supply from smoking, can cause nerve tissue damage. Autoimmune diseases may target nerves directly or
cause problems with the surrounding tissues.
Hormonal imbalances can interfere with the metabo-
lism, causing swelling that puts pressure on nerves. Certain diseases, such as those involving the kidney or liver, can lead to a buildup of toxic substances, causing
nerve damage.
Cancer or cancer treatments can damage or put pres-
sure on nerves.
COMMON SYMPTOMS OF NEUROPATHY
If you or a loved one has neuropathy, the symptoms may differ depending on the type of nerves that have been damaged.
Sensory neuropathy symptoms may include:
• Tingling feelings;
• Unexplained numbness;
• Sensations, such as pain or burning, with no obvious
cause; or
• Reduced coordination or reflexes.
Motor neuropathy symptoms may include:
• Muscle weakness, cramps, or twitching; • Difficulty walking or moving;
• Loss of muscle control;
• Reduced muscle tone;
• Reduced flexibility or dexterity; or
• Falling or unsteady walking.
Autonomic neuropathy symptoms may include:
• Unexplained changes in blood pressure or heart rate; • Decreased sweating;
• Difficulty urinating;
• Diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting;
• Dizziness or fainting;
• Sexual dysfunction; or
• Unexplained weight loss.
PHYSICAL THERAPY FOR NEUROPATHY
Because neuropathy can affect physical functioning, physical therapy can help you or your loved one improve the areas that have been affected. The specific treatment plan will depend on your condition and your personal needs and goals.
Here are a few physical therapy exercises that can help with neuropathy:
• Nerve gliding activities and exercises help promote nerve health and healing, and can help you manage neuropathy symptoms.
• Moderate exercise can boost physical strength and functioning.
• Balancing activities can improve coordination and reduce your risk of falling.
• Being fitted for braces and learning to use them may help protect injured nerves and promote safe movement.
• Education and coaching from a physical therapist can improve your safety, prevent symptoms from worsening, reduce complications, and improve qual- ity of life and overall functioning.
MANAGE YOUR NEUROPATHY AND LIVE BETTER
If you or a loved one is struggling to manage symp- toms of neuropathy, help is available. Compassionate, experienced professionals at FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers are ready to help create an individual treatment plan that works for you.
Contact us today for more information or to schedule an assessment, 203-741-9948 or keith.sobkowiak@fyzical.com.
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