Peripheral Neuropathy –

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition affecting the nerves of the body that result in a variety of symptoms including pain, changes in sensation, and alterations in muscle activity. Peripheral neuropathy may be associated with other disease processes such as diabetes, bodily injury, and overuse conditions. It also can occur as a side effect of medications, such as chemotherapy. Also the symptoms of some types of peripheral neuropathy have been shown to improve over time, many do not. Treatment by a physical therapist can help reduce symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in some cases, and reduce the effect the symptoms have on movements and activities, to improve an individual’s quality of life.

What is Peripheral Neuropathy?

Peripheral neuropathy is a condition that affects the nerves of your body. It is generally classified by the number of nerves affected, the type of nerve cells affected, or the process affecting the nerves. Depending on these factors, the symptoms of Peripheral Neuropathy vary widely, and can include sensory, motor, and /or autonomic issues. Common classifications of peripheral neuropathy include:
• Mononeuropathy. This is a condition only affecting 1 nerve. It is often a result of the compression of a nerve, which creates an onset of symptoms. Carpal tunnel syndrome is an example of a mononeuropathy, in which compression of the median nerve in the arm results in altered sensation, pain, and weakness of the hand.
• Polyneuropathy. This is a condition affected 2 or more nerves and is generally a result of a disease process that affects the entire body. This type of peripheral neuropathy can result in an individual experiencing symptoms in various body parts, on both sides of the body.
• Neuritis. This is a condition that results from inflammation of a nerve. There are many causes of this type of peripheral neuropathy including infection, injury, or exposure to chemicals.

How does it feel?

To understand symptoms of peripheral neuropathy, we must first understand that nerves have influence over 3 primary functions, all of which may be altered by peripheral neuropathy.
1. Sensation
2. Motor function (movement)
3. Autonomic (nervous system) function
Depending on the location and type of nerve(s) involved, people with peripheral neuropathy may experience:
• Numbness and tingling, most commonly starting in the feet and hands, and possibly spreading up the limbs
• Loss or absence of sensation (the ability to sense contact with outside objects)
• Pain, often described as burning, sharp, or “electric-like”
• Increased sensitivity to light touch
• Clumsiness or decreased coordination in the affected limb(s)
• Weakness or paralysis in the muscles or parts of the body affected by the nerve or nerves
• Bowel or bladder changes; nerves controlling these functions may be affected
• Temperature intolerances
• Decreased Balance
• Falls
• Poor wound healing
• Excessive sweating or skin dryness
• Flushed or pale skin
• Abnormal nail growth
• Decreased ability to participate in normal functional activities

Physical Therapy can help in the treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy

It has been shown that 60 – 70% of Diabetic patients could have mild to severe nervous system damage. Peripheral Neuropathy affects 50% of this population.

Physical Therapy can be helpful for the maintaining of strength, mobility and function regardless of the underlying causes of the peripheral neuropathy, such as, diabetic, chemo and idiopathic neuropathy.

Some of the benefits that we have been seeing with this treatment are:

• Improved Sensation
• Decreased pain
• Improved Balance
• Improved ability to walk and do all daily activities.

Some of the objectives used in physical therapy include:

• Maintaining and improving function via range of motion including implementing passive range of motion, manual stretching and self stretching exercises.
• Strengthening muscles which can include weight bearing exercises, using resistance and isometric exercises.
• Balance and Propriopceptive training prevent and reduce patients chance of falling.
• Micro Point Stimulation (M.P.S.) – a newer treatment technique.

Micro Point Stimulation for treatment of Peripheral Neuropathy:

• Micro Point Stimulation (MPS) is a newer drug free treatment that manipulates the autonomic nervous system stimulating acupuncture points by using a micro current. The patient can receive the benefit of the treatment with no involvement of needles.
• Studies have demonstrated that MPS can be up to 80 – 85% effective in the treatment of diabetic neuropathy pain, and sometimes patient can demonstrate full relief of pain.
• The Autonomic Nervous System can be affected with neuropathy by affecting the nerve pathways up regulation which can produce heightened supersensitive reflexes.
• MPS Therapy has been shown to deregulate the Autonomic Nervous System and help to reduce the supersensitive reflexes and symptoms that patients experience and produce a calming affect.
• Most of the therapists at Empower Physical Therapy are certified to administer this treatment for patients.

Photo 1: before. Photo 2: after. Photo 3: before. Photo 4: after.

Don’t let your daily discomfort seem like you are walking on pins and needles any longer. Contact our office to speak with one of our licensed Newton and Hesston physical therapists today and schedule your initial consultation! We will help you get started on the road toward long-lasting pain relief.