Regular exercise provides no end of benefits for your body and mind. Exercise can boost your immune system, lift your mood, help you maintain a healthy weight, and can even help you manage a variety of health concerns 一 and that includes peripheral neuropathy.
Peripheral neuropathy refers to damaged nerves in your feet and legs, and our team here at Diabetic Foot and Wound Center in Bakersfield, California, often recommend lifestyle changes, including exercise, to help mitigate symptoms like pain, numbness, and tingling.
Read on as our board-certified wound care specialists and podiatrists explain how exercise helps improve your peripheral neuropathy symptoms.
Exercise improves circulation in your limbs
Your nerves need a healthy flow of blood (and the oxygen and nutrients it brings) to function properly. Because exercise improves your circulation, it promotes healthy blood flow to the nerves in your feet.
Exercise helps to reduce pain
According to research published in the journal Sports Medicine Open, exercise helps to reduce the sensation of pain. Specifically, aerobic exercise, a combination of aerobic and strength training, and high-intensity interval training all helped to reduce pain.
Don’t feel that you need to exercise vigorously to get the benefits of exercise. This data reveals that even low-impact aerobic exercise will help reduce pain. Try exercises that don’t stress your joints. Walking, swimming, and no-jump aerobics are all beneficial.
Exercise improves nerve function
Exercise also improves your nerve function and promotes nerve cell regeneration. Specifically, exercise increases the number of branches in your nerve fibers, increases the thickness of your myelin sheath (coating on nerves), and increases neurogenesis.
To recap, exercise helps with neuropathy by improving blood flow, supporting healthy nerve function, and reducing pain.
Safety tips for exercising with neuropathic pain
When you have neuropathy, you may experience burning sensations and sharp pains, but you might also experience numbness and weakness. Numbness can be particularly dangerous when exercising, so it’s important to make exercise safety a priority.
Keep these tips in mind:
- Review all new exercise programs with your Diabetic Foot and Wound Care Center provider before you start
- Wear exercise-appropriate shoes
- Work out with a buddy or in a group
- Try a beginner’s aerobics class and ask for modifications if needed
- Take a break when your body tells you to rest
- Choose low-impact activities over high-impact activities
- Always warm up and cool down
- Try seated exercises if you’re unstable on your feet
If diabetes is the cause of your peripheral neuropathy, exercise can help you manage the condition, but make you understand how exercise will impact your blood sugar levels.
Talk to us about your neuropathy
Exercise is just one part of your management plan for peripheral neuropathy. The Diabetic Foot and Wound Center team offers many different treatments to help you manage your symptoms.
Depending on how severe your symptoms are, you may benefit from:
- Oral medications, which include both pain relievers or anti-seizure medications
- Topical medications that contain lidocaine
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
- Physical therapy
- Plasma exchange
- Intravenous immune globulin
- Surgery (in rare cases)
Don’t let peripheral neuropathy zap your quality of life. Visit our walk-in wound care for urgent matters, or call our Bakersfield, California, office at 661-238-7526 to schedule your neuropathy consultation.