Is Walking Good For Neuropathy?

Neuropathy usually used as a shortened term for peripheral neuropathy is a general term referring to the damage or malfunctioning of the peripheral nerves. It can be sensory, motor, or autonomic in nature. Usually, the sensory and motor neuropathy is more common than the autonomic neuropathy.

Is Walking Good For Neuropathy?

For rehabilitation purpose in the patients suffering from neuropathy, various rehabilitation exercises have been tried and their benefits have been proven. Most common exercise suggested in these patients is walking. It could be started from a normal walk for 15 minutes only and the time duration of the walking could be increased day by day with the increment of 2 to 5 minutes. As the person reaches a stage where he could walk for one hour without debilitating symptoms then the next goal is made to increase the speed gradually. Brisk walking is started in phases like for the first day only 5 minutes of brisk walk is added to the daily routine and this time period is increased with a gap of 2 to 5 minutes every day. The patient should make the routine still he or she could brisk walk for 45 minutes to 1 hour without any symptoms.[2]

As the muscles of lower limbs start working, the blood supply of the muscles increases due to an increase in demand for the same. The calf pump of the calf muscles starts to squeeze the blood and maintain an efficient circulatory system in the limbs. The increased blood flow helps to recover the damaged tissues including the nerves which were affected in the neuropathy. Although the cure is not complete some improvement could be seen and the disability gets minimized. It helps to reduce the neuropathic pain occurring due to the collection of inflammatory mediators by flushing them into the circulatory system. Muscle strength of the limbs increases and the wasting incurred by the loss of trophic factors due to damaged nerves also gets compensated enough to bear its own weight.

Neuropathy has a long list of causes some of which are diabetes mellitus, leprosy, trauma, radiation therapy, drug-related, excessive alcohol consumption, heavy metal poisoning, vitamin deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, genetic causes and finally the idiopathic cause, etc.

Varieties of symptoms are experienced in neuropathy which can be divided into sensory and motor symptoms. Sensory symptoms include tingling, numbness, pins and needle sensation, itching, crawling, loss of sensations, etc. Motor symptoms include painful muscle cramps, tiredness, muscle twitches, tremors, loss of muscle mass, gait abnormalities, balance disorders, bone degeneration, fasciculations, etc.[1]

Medical treatment is available to reduce the symptoms of neuropathy. The treatment includes various groups of drugs like antidepressants, antiepileptics, analgesics, antihistaminics, opiates, etc. These are very effective in managing the pain but the sensations lost in the neuropathy are usually not recovered with these medications.

Newer techniques for impulse generation in the damaged nerves with the help of electrical stimulation systems have been devised and are placed surgically in the region of damaged nerve to bring back the function of that nerve. These are only partial treatments and cannot heal the damaged nerves. It can be only improved by the rehabilitation exercises and natural healing of the nerves by the body.

Conclusion

Symptoms of neuropathy get improved by the rehabilitation exercises like walking, running, treadmill, skipping, jumping, etc. although it may not get completely reversed because the damage to the nerves is irreversible. The sensory symptoms like tingling, pins and needle sensation, loss of sensation can be minimized. The motor symptoms like muscle cramps, muscle wasting, tremors, fasciculations can go away easily with the partial recovery and improvement in the bulk of muscles.

The treatment and elimination of the causative factors and diseases like diabetes mellitus, excess alcohol consumption, etc. are a must for preventing peripheral neuropathy. Early detection of the neuropathic changes not only decreases the progression but also minimizes the final disability caused by it.

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