Physical therapy is a critical piece of the comprehensive treatment plan for patients with neuropathy, a nerve disorder that causes a variety of symptoms, including sensory loss, muscle atrophy, balance issues, decreased circulation, dizziness, tingling, numbness, and pain. Though physical therapy cannot cure neuropathy, it can improve the quality of life for patients suffering from this disorder.
After taking a patient’s medical history and performing a thorough examination, a physical therapist can then create a tailor-made treatment plan to address a patient’s specific condition, type of neuropathy, and therapy goals.
Treatment plans can include different techniques and modalities—like therapeutic exercise, cold therapy, electrical stimulation, and ultrasound. Physical therapists may also use laser therapy, which can accelerate tissue repair, promote proper nerve function, and reduce pain and inflammation.
Regular, low-impact exercise performed under the watchful eye of a licensed physical therapist—who will make sure that the exercise isn’t painful or overly strenuous—can help patients increase muscle strength, circulation, coordination, balance, flexibility, and feeling in the feet and hands.
For diabetic neuropathy, many physical therapists apply a treatment called anodyne therapy, which uses flexible pads that emit infrared light. It can be very helpful in reducing some of the symptoms—like pain, numbness, tingling, burning, and sensory loss—by encouraging circulation of oxygen and nutrients.