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Exercise + Physical Therapy For Neuropathy


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. A comprehensive physical activity routine includes four kinds of activities:

Refer to a physical or occupational therapist, or a healthcare provider, regarding an exercise program that’s right for you.

Physical therapy may be helpful in maintaining strength, mobility, and function regardless of the underlying cause of Peripheral Neuropathy (PN). Patients with diabetic neuropathy may also benefit from physical therapy, however, diabetic neuropathy patients must also tightly control their blood sugar levels to prevent major fluctuations.

The objectives of physical therapy include:

  • Maintaining and improve functions via a range of motion – passive range of motion exercises consist of progressive stretching and self-stretches
  • Strengthening muscles – this includes exercising against increasing resistance, use of weights, and isometric exercise
  • Balance training provides stability and prevents falls
  • Physical therapists can also recommend braces and/or splints to enhance balance and posture
  • Splinting is often used in the treatment of compression mononeuropathies, such as carpal tunnel syndrome

Occupational therapy is instrumental in helping a patient cope with the functional, vocational, and social impact of peripheral neuropathy by:

  • Improving sensory-motor skills
  • Teaching the patient to avoid exposure to environmental or industrial toxins
  • Teaching self-care activities
  • Teaching the patient safety issues, (e.g., paying more attention to the terrain when walking since falling or tripping may pose a risk for patients with PN)
  • Teaching the patient to pay attention to issues which involve automatic functions (e.g., learning how to change positions smoothly to avoid a sudden drop in blood pressure and the risk of falling)

Aerobic Exercise

Increases your heart rate, works your muscles, and raises your breathing rate. For most people, it’s best to aim for a total of about 30 minutes a day, between 3-5 days a week. If you haven’t been very active recently, you can start out with 5 or 10 minutes a day and work up to more time each week. Or split up your activity for the day — try a 10-minute walk after each meal.

Here are some examples of aerobic exercise:

  • Take a brisk walk (outside or inside on a treadmill)
  • Take a low-impact aerobics class
  • Swim or do water aerobic exercises
  • Stationary bicycle indoors

Flexibility Exercises

Flexibility exercises, also called stretching, help keep your joints flexible and reduce your chances of injury during other activities. Gentle stretching for 5 to 10 minutes helps your body warm up and get ready for aerobic activities such as walking or swimming. Here are some flexibility exercises you can do at home.

Check with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

Strength Training

Strength training exercises help to make the muscles stronger and more injury resistant. It can help you regain lost strength in your muscles through constant training routines. Here are some strength training exercises you can do at home.

Check with your physician before beginning any exercise program.


Keeping your balance system healthy is especially important if you have problems due to illness, such as joint pain, weakness or dizziness. Balance training can help you get back to normal, and overcome feelings of stiffness or unsteadiness. Balance, in particular, is emerging as an important element for the elderly. Older muscles are smaller and slower and respond less efficiently when you need to brace yourselves, making you more vulnerable to falls.

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